Aptly coinciding with the twenty-fifth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, this is the first large-scale English-language account of music in the German Democratic Republic. It is not an exhaustive account of music during the forty years of the socialist regime; rather, Elaine Kelly productively examines how the GDR recast history, including the historiography of nineteenth-century composers and musical works, in order to construct self-images of the socialist state. She argues that the socialist canon—especially works by Bach, Beethoven, and Wagner—emerged as a site at which engagements between state and society played out. By tracing the historical and musicological approaches used by the SED (Socialist Unity Party of Germany) to construct national myths, she offers a fascinating account of what this “society reveals of itself through its relationship with its cultural heritage” (p. 1).

Studies of music and cultural politics in regimes burdened with state control demand erudite...

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