The Music of Asylum


There’s an amazing history of musicians and music companies who’ve supported asylum seekers.

I blogged about Bluthner doing just that, when Hitler was in power-probably for them at great commercial and personal risk.

Less known but an individual very active in that same cause was Arnold Schoenberg, who, while not technically an asylum seeker as we now use the term, benefitted from his pre-WWII ‘relocation’ in America-as did many other musicians, artists, and writers. At the same time many asylum seekers came to the UK. And many went elsewhere, to Central and South America.

Had Arnold Schoenberg not been permitted to relocate to the US he never would had John Cage as a student in his UCLA counterpoint class. How differently things might have turned out if Cage never studied with Schoenberg (who told him because he didn’t understand harmony he’d never be a composer)! How differently things might have been had Arnold Schoenberg not left Europe when he did. Arnold Schoenberg and John Cage. Between them they just about represent a split, a line of demarcation, betwee 20th century art music if divided by two. Together they just about represent all that caused and led modernism to transform into post-modernism.

Which all leads to: People’s Project voting ends tomorrow (Sunday, 13 March) at 12 noon. Leicester City of Sanctuary, an org that supports asylum seekers from 27 countries who amongst them speak about 150 different languages, has a stake in that vote and a chance to win £50k for its programs benefitting Leicester asylum seekers. If you can see your way to visiting the direct link to vote for them, that would be hugely appreciated. Because asylum seeker are people and they need our help.