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Representing the Good NeighborMusic, Difference, and the Pan American Dream$
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Carol A. Hess

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199919994

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199919994.001.0001

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Memory, Music, and the Latin American Cold War

Memory, Music, and the Latin American Cold War

Frederic Rzewski’s 36 Variations on “The People United Will Never Be Defeated!”

(p.171) 7 Memory, Music, and the Latin American Cold War
Representing the Good Neighbor

Carol A. Hess

Oxford University Press

This chapter tracks the further demise of Pan Americanism via nueva canción, a folkloric, often anti-U.S. genre popular in cold war Latin America. It also attracted the U.S. composer and Marxist sympathizer Frederic Rzewski, whose fifty-minute virtuosic piano piece, 36 Variations on “The People United Will Never Be Defeated!,” reflects the values of nueva canción despite having been premiered under the auspices of the U.S. Bicentennial. Unlike Copland’s El salón México or Gershwin’s Cuban Overture, The People United commemorates one of the bleakest moments in U.S.–Latin American relations: the CIA-assisted coup that brought Augusto Pinochet to power in Chile. Applying theories of Freud and Paul Ricoeur reveals that the work’s unusual formal structure explicates processes of memory and forgetting, both central concerns in Latin America today. Memory and forgetting are also germane to the historiography of Latin American music in the United States, which has largely forgotten sameness-embracing in favor of fetishizing difference.

Keywords:   Frederic Rzewski, Latin American cold war, Quilapayún, Sigmund Freud, theories of memory, Paul Ricoeur, U.S. Bicentennial, Ursula Oppens, keyboard virtuosity, variation form

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