Orchestrating Activism: Notes on Music, Audience, & History from 1930s Brazil
In this talk, Micah Oelze shares his research on the profoundly musical politics of interwar Brazil.
In 1934, a scandal erupted in São Paulo. The city’s sole black political party (the Black Brazilian Front) denounced their bandleader for “traitorous” actions and “machiavellian strategies.” The public firing of the composer and activist Alfredo Pires was about more than musical taste; it was about fierce differences in ideology.
During this presentation, Micah Oelze uses the case of fired bandleader Alfredo Pires as an opportunity to see how musical work was not above the fray of polarized politics. Oelze then reflects on insights the case might offer those working toward social activism today.
Banda de Música da Fôrça Pública Paulista que acompanha o Batalhão de Guardas, tomando parte nos exercícios preparatórios com o Batalhão / The São Paulo Armed Forces Music Band, rehearsing with the Guards Battalion
Micah Oelze is a musician and a history professor at New York’s Adelphi University. As a historian, Oelze teaches on Latin America and offers special courses on Brazil and the Caribbean. He is currently finishing a book project on 1930s Brazil, zooming in on a series of collaborations between music composers and social psychologists who sought to use the concert hall as a site for social engineering and reform. As a musician, he plays the seven-string classical guitar, specializing in the style of instrumental music called chorinho, also from Brazil in the 1930s. Micah Oelze received his PhD from Miami’s Florida International University.