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ART AND DEMOCRACY

Art was rooted in democracy. Symphony conductor Arthur Fiedler believed music and democracy were synonymous because it was said art (such as music, painting, architecture, literature) and democracy (or the masses of the people) were one. An education authority told the press in 1919, "Art is the world speaking to itself. It comes from the great font and belongs to the people. We must break through the barriers which prevent them from receiving it. No education worthy this name is possible without music. It should take second place only to the rudiments, reading, writing, and arithmetic." 

Symphony conductor Dr Walter Damrosch told the world in 1941, "Music is the one great international language, and if through music we can create a feeling of universal brotherhood, isn't this just another way to express the ideals of democracy? And that's what being an American means. Here we do not stop to ask a man what his racial antecedents may be – German, French, Italian, Norwegian, English – he is still an American. And so, if a man has a soul for music and learns to love it culturally, his nationality will not matter.

"America is a composite of nations and peoples from all over the world who have come to us bringing their racial customs and music – a wealth of beauty. Through the intermingling of their arts they have created a national unity – and music as an international language is an important factor in our civilization. Centuries ago, music, like art, and the ability to read and write, and other cultural arts belonged principally to the so-called upper classes, but as man's freedoms have grown these gifts have been given to the people. 

"So, loving music as I do, I wanted to show my love and appreciation for all that America has done for me by sharing my music. And so, following in my father's footsteps, I did what I could to make music truly democratic in my adopted land. If we could teach the people, peoples of all lands, everywhere, that nations must and can work together like the instruments of a great symphonic orchestra, each doing his job in a world that was created for everybody, then we could say, 'peace on earth, good will to men.'" 

George Keppel Thomas was matter-of-fact back in 1918, "Great art is not for one certain class, it is for all. Beauty and art are the only stimulating food and drink to uplift the soul. The war (World War I) is ended. The world is entering a new age. But that new age will not come of its own accord, as the dawn of a new day appears. The people must work to make it. The spectacle of Allied nations shaking hands with each other and making treaties does not in itself constitute the brotherhood of man. 

"People may learn to understand the hearts of the humble souls among humanity. When this is learned there will not be so many spectacles of Christ crucifixions, of noble souls crying out and dying in poverty to be exalted as geniuses by a wiser age; nor will there be a class of high art for one and a low class for another. Democracy does not, and cannot make all persons wealthy, or prevent indolence from paying its natural penalty; but it can bring the understanding that each human being; no matter how lowly, can rise in greatness and goodness. Art, more than any other thing, has tended toward impressing this upon the world; but its lessons have been chiefly in picture. 

"The world knows that many of its great geniuses were neglected because the fashionable of the time considered them only ignorant members of the servant class; and yet the attitude is about the same today (in 1918) as it was several thousand years ago. A perceptible change in this attitude will be noted when there becomes a general realization that art expresses man's highest ideals, that it is not for one class, but for all, and that its beauty and spirit must be explained to the people so that they may love it rather than loathe the lofty learning of its praters." 

Back in 1939, Arthur Fiedler voiced, "It dawns upon me with amazement, that I am the only native musician directing a great orchestra. All the others either come directly from the other side of the Atlantic or have emigrated to this part of the world." However he lamented, "Twenty years ago (in 1919) we would walk miles to hear a performance of Cesar Franck's Symphony in D minor. Now (in 1939), I am afraid, there are many of us who might want to run miles to get away from one." 

Skitch Henderson made the observation in 1965, "Cinematography is on an elegant plane, but the music is the last thing the producers think of. And when they do think of it, they want the kind of music that won't get in the way of the message. Doing commercials exercises you, and most times, it is a pretty clean challenge. However, I thought I would be a great creator, and I find I have become a great manipulator. In the field of commercials, no one ever says, 'I like it.' The standard answer, to everything, is 'I don't know, but…' In doing commercials, there is no line to lean on. It's a medium full of all kinds of esthetics, from corn pone to diamonds. As far as music goes in the commercial business, it's a continual audition. In any other area, if you achieve a certain reputation, you can lean on it for a couple of days. Not here – and then the answer is still, 'I don't know, but…'"

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