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This article appears in the July 22, 2022 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.

[Print version of this article]

Dennis Speed

Panel 4 Welcoming Remarks

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Schiller Institute
Dennis Speed

June 19— Hello, and welcome to all of you from around the world to the fourth and final panel of the international Schiller Institute conference, “There Can Be No Peace Without the Bankruptcy Reorganization of the Dying Trans-Atlantic Financial System.” We’ve just heard the “Kyrie” of Mozart’s Requiem, as performed by the Schiller Institute NYC Chorus in January of 2014. Eight years ago, the Chorus, augmented by additional singers and an orchestra largely comprised of volunteers from the New England Conservatory of Music, presented Mozart’s Requiem in its entirety to an audience of 1,200 people at Boston’s Cathedral of the Holy Cross, performed exactly 50 years to the day of the 1964 Solemn High Requiem Mass that had been specially requested by the Kennedy family for the slain President John F. Kennedy. There was a reason why we chose this selection for our beginning.

Our two-day conference has devoted itself to a comprehensive discussion of the pathway toward providing a solution to today’s conjunctural crisis—economic, military, political, and emphatically cultural. Now many wish to avoid the last topic, that of culture. We call it, of course, “Classical culture.” They seek to trivialize the topic, or sloganize it, or make it politically correct. At the Schiller Institute, we prefer to confront it, as did Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. We believe that the solution to the present crisis lies in the hearts, as well as in the actions, of the citizens of the world. And we chose the “Kyrie,” because its two words, Greek words, “Kyrie eleison,” “Lord have mercy,” place us in the proper mindset to actually address these matters.

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Left: Gordon County Chamber of Commerce; right: Maud Cuney-Hare
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Carl Van Vechten
“Roland Hayes, a man who sang with honesty from the depths of his soul, whose arrangements of the Spirituals are on a par with the greatest writings of Franz Schubert—simple, but not simplistic; powerful beyond explanation.” —George Shirley

The topic of today’s panel is “Classical Culture and the Dialogue of Civilizations,” and to assist me in introducing it today, I sought to bring two persons up, who were involved in a section of a presentation given at a Schiller Institute conference back on January 17, 1998. First, we’re going to hear from the great Metropolitan [Opera] tenor, George Shirley, who will discuss the identity of Classical music composition and the African-American Spiritual. And he will demonstrate.

George Shirley [video]:

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Tenor George Shirley singing Ronald Hayes’ arrangement of “Lit’l Boy” at the Schiller Institute Martin Luther King Day Conference, Alexandria, VA, Jan. 17, 1998.

One of the hallmarks of the music of Schubert, Schumann, is the great honesty and simplicity with which it speaks. Yes, the music in its way is complex, but the result in the mouth of an artist, is something so disarmingly simple, that there are no barriers in the way to understanding. And the Spiritual is much the same: Simple, direct, without artifice, speaking from the depths of the soul. One of the singers who was a model for me, when I was growing up, was the tenor Roland Hayes. Indeed, when I was a child, singing in Detroit, I could receive no greater compliment than someone coming up to my parents and saying “Oh! He’s going to be another Roland Hayes!”

Well, there could never be another Roland Hayes. All that I, or anyone else could hope to do, would be to imitate the principles for which he stood, as a man, who sang, who sang with honesty from the depths of his soul. His arrangements of Spirituals are on a par with the greatest writings of Franz Schubert—simple, but not simplistic; powerful beyond explanation.

I would like to end my portion of this segment, before any questions that you might have to ask me, with a Spiritual that was Hayes’ signature.

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My Songs: Aframerican Religious Folk Songs, arranged and interpreted by Roland Hayes, 1948.

When I started my career as an opera singer, and as a recitalist, I purposely eschewed the performance of Spirituals, for a number of years. Why? Because I knew everybody expected me to sing them. And I’ve taken great pride—I trust it’s not false pride—but pride in not doing what people expect me to do, especially when it enters the realm of race. People expected me to me a blues singer, a jazz singer.

So, I purposely left Spirituals off of my programs for a while, but I knew that I had to come back to them, because it was great music. There was a cartoon drawn by the late E. Simms Campbell that I’ve never forgotten, which was published in the 1950s, and sort of illustrates visually what I’m talking about.

The fifties was a time when the faculties of some universities in this country began to desegregate, and this cartoon shows a distinguished-looking black gentleman in a conference room at a university. And there are a number of white males at the table, and one of these gentlemen, who is evidently the chair of whatever committee this happens to be, is addressing the black gentleman, who’s standing there with a rather perplexed look on his face, with a sheaf of papers in his hand. And the statement goes something like this: “Now, Professor Jones, before you read us your paper on “The Effects of Nuclear Fission, blah, blah, blah, blah”—how about a good ol’ Spiritual?” [laughter]

So, I decided, for a period of time at least, not to program Spirituals in my recitals, but to do the music of Schubert, Puccini, Verdi, Brahms.

But, as I said, I had to come back to the Spiritual, because it’s great music. The Spiritual that I’ll sing for you today, the one that became Roland Hayes’ signature, is entitled, “Lit’l Boy.” And it depicts Jesus’ meeting in the synagogue with the elders. My orchestra on this occasion is a lady who is not unknown to many of you, whose 10 musicians formed one of the greatest orchestras in the country: Miss Sylvia [Olden] Lee. [applause]

Last night at the banquet, we were honored with impromptu performances by Mattawilda Dobbs, Shirley Verrett, and William Warfield. And Bill, before he got up to sing, said, “I’m going to do something that I tell my students never to do”—and I’m going to do the same thing—“I’m going to sing for you without warming up.” [laughs] [performs “Lit’l Boy”]

Speed: The Classical principle is everywhere universal. As Mozart, who was a great supporter of the American Revolution, knew, there’s nowhere for an artist to hide from politics. The recent attacks on artists in various parts of the world either for their political views, or for their lack of certain political views, are for an entirely other reason than would be admitted. The actual reason is that Classical culture is a culture of discovery and its participants and its masters are discoverers. They discover the truth, and that idea of truth is always poetic.

For example, Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and Second Inaugural Address are both examples of politics as art. This is the kind of politics as art that was practiced by Lyndon LaRouche. Moments after what you have just seen, LaRouche engaged in an extended dialogue with the audience. But a very particular thing happened at a particular point, when someone was asking him a question, and he went into a short discussion about the true nature of the American Revolution and specifically, the role of Abraham Lincoln, and the true allies of the United States. We present it here, as a kind of continuity between what you’ve been hearing from our first panel and second and third panels, to what we’re about to discuss with you now.

Lyndon LaRouche [video]:

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“From about 1789–93 until the end of the 19th century, the most important ally of the U.S. was Russia.” —Lyndon LaRouche, at the Schiller Institute Martin Luther King Day Conference, Alexandria, VA, Jan. 17, 1998.

You’ve got two parts to the question. First of all, what was the nature of the Lincoln-Carey program in its 1861–1876 phase. The significance of 1876 is, this was the great centennial celebration of the American Revolution Declaration of Independence, which was an international festival, in which the accomplishments of the United States in economy and technology were featured at the Philadelphia fair. This coincided with the first efforts by the enemies of the United States from within, to destroy the United States’ system, beginning 1873 with the bankrupting of Jay Cook in order to bring the United States back under the control of the London bankers and their New York City and New England stooges.

So therefore, 1876 is a turning point which represents a cumulative high point of a period of development of about 15 years of economy, despite efforts already in place to disrupt it. Sometimes the product is finished after the plan is about to be shut down—you know, this sort of thing.

So that this model of the American System, the 1876 model, was adopted by Germany, that is, by the national economy faction in Germany. It was adopted by Bismarck, shortly after that, who changed his policy, who introduced a social welfare policy into Germany, as part of this, and broke with the British. It was introduced into Russia through the scientist Mendeleev, who was the great railroad builder, and the great developer of many industries in Russia, together with his friends, including his friend, a younger man, Graf Sergei Witte, Finance Minister and for a time Prime Minister of Russia, who was eliminated by the British with the 1905 revolution, and things like that. And Russia was rearmed afterward, but it was only rearmed with British and French support, especially French support, after 1907–1908, in order to build up Russia for war against Germany; because Russia had become, after the 1905 Revolution, a complete tool of the Anglo-French forces in a conspiracy to destroy Germany.

And up to that time, up until 1898 approximately, and in this period, 1894, Japan broke with the United States with the Sino-Japanese War and went over to the British side, totally. And Japan was an enemy of the United States from 1894 until the end of World War II. As a matter of fact, the attack on Pearl Harbor was originally planned by the British and Japanese together in the early 1920s, when the British and Japanese were planning to conduct a war against the United States, in the context of the naval power treaty agreements, the so-called Locarno [Treaties in 1925], etc. business.

But in that period, from the Lincoln period, the victory in the Civil War, until approximately the end of the 19th century, the allies of the United States were or became Russia—we had no allies before that; none. We had only one thing: We had the Bey of Tunis and the United States had an alliance with the Tunisians against the Barbary pirates, early in the 19th century. That was our only ally, from about 1789–1793, our only ally until the 1850s. And our first important ally came in the 1850s, in terms of Russia, Alexander II of Russia.

Speed: Shocking, isn’t it? The British were the enemy and Russia was the first great ally of the United States. So why do you think the opposite? We need to be more curious, don’t you think? At least as Americans, and I think it probably goes for people all over the world.

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