Graduate Research Colloquium: Anhad Arora, Min Erh Wang, and Jason Weir

Free to attend, register here.

Anhad Arora
Orientalism and the Lied: Some Issues

Min Erh Wang
Music as Propaganda: The Reception of Pablo Casals in Japan and the Sinophone World during the Cold War

Pablo Casals (1876-1973) is generally understood as one of the most influential musicians and a musical humanitarian of the twentieth century. However, this understanding ignores that the Cold War ideologies, such as humanitarianism, communism, and anti-communism, have played a very crucial role in the construction of Casals’ reputation in the English language literature as well as the reception of this musical figure in Japan and the Sinophone world.

Stemming from the image constructed in the English literature, Japanese critics attempted to articulate their own way of appreciating Casals’ legacies by evaluating his cello performance and re-interpreting his presence in Japan to confirm his image as a humanitarian. The ideology of humanitarianism was also imported into Taiwan. Yet, within the context of a series of diplomatic failures in the 1970s, Casals’ humanitarian efforts were interpreted as an anti-communist to comply with the protocol of the nationalist government. In contrast with his reception in Japan and Taiwan, the image of Casals’ humanitarianism was adapted to a leftist musician in communist China. Political labels, such as ‘people’s artist’, and ‘people’s character of art’ were used to introduce Casals to a Chinese readership. The reception of Casals in Hong Kong offers another point of reference to reveal how the introduction of Casals was politicized in Japan, Taiwan, and China. Compared with those three countries, the perception of Casals was quite superficial since the Hong Kong government avoided promoting a certain ideology through music. The case of Hong Kong, therefore, is counterevidence that the introduction of Casals in these places was not only a musical but also a political event. By scrutinising the reception of Casals in Japan, Taiwan, China, this paper demonstrates that how Western art music was used for political propaganda during the Cold War. 

Min-Erh Wang is a DPhil candidate in music at the University of Oxford. Min-Erh’s research focuses on how East Asian countries responded to the importation of Western art music in the twentieth century. Stemming from this point, his doctoral project examines the reception history of Western art music in Japan, Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, through the lens of colonialism, Cold War ideologies, and capitalism with a case study of the reception of the Spanish cellist and humanitarian, Pablo Casals. His project received financial supports from the China Centre, the Nissan Institute of Japanese Studies, and St Catherine’s College of the University of Oxford. 

Min-Erh is a co-founder of the interdisciplinary research network ‘Colonial Ports and Global History’ in Oxford and the organiser of academic conferences, including ‘Myriad Materialities: Towards a New Global Writing of Colonial Ports and Port Cities’ in 2021, and ‘Sensing Colonial Ports and Global History: Agency, Affect, Temporality’ in 2019. Meanwhile, Min-Erh participated in musicological research panels of the Cold War and global music history, which includes ‘Towards Global Music History in the Post-/Cold War Era Research Panel’ in 2021 and ‘Cold War and Global Music History: Nationalism, Ideologies, and Knowledge Production’ in 2019. 

Jason Weir
Musical Noise and Vernacular Culture in Vienna's 'Wild West'

Jason has just completed a DPhil in musicology, supervised by Daniel Grimley. His thesis explored the development of vernacular music and culture in suburban Vienna from the 1870s to 1914, specifically through case studies about the acoustic environment, working-class life, as well as clocks and organ grinders. When he is not dreaming about Austria, Jason can often be found playing fiddle, or engaging in his favourite pasttime of cloudspotting.

About the series:
The Colloquia feature leading figures, as well as younger scholars, from across the world. They present their research in papers on all kinds of music-related topics. Graduate students Marinu Leccia and Judith Valerie Engel organise the series. Presentations are followed by a discussion and virtual drinks reception. Free and open to all Music Faculty students and members. If you would like more information, please email or