What does it mean for music to be political? Can music be political? Should music be political? Who has the right to determine a musical work’s political meaning? In this course, we will explore the ways in which historical actors have created and used music for political ends in Europe across the 20th century and into the present. Working thematically, we will consider four major moments in European musical politics: the Soviet Union under Lenin and Stalin, Germany in the Weimar and Nazi eras, the youth protest movements of Cold War Europe in the 1960s-1980s, and our current moment of globalized culture. Along the way, we will explore how authoritarian regimes have tried to use music to serve their purposes, and how musicians have complied with or resisted such efforts. We will also consider the perspectives of musicians who used their music to make a political statement and discover how music influenced the thinking of protest leaders and disaffected young people on both sides of the Berlin Wall. Turning to the present, we will examine how musicians have tried to heal the rifts of the 20th century and think critically about what has been gained and lost in the process. Most of all, we will confront the indeterminacy of musical meaning. This course emphasizes close reading, careful listening, creative thinking, and vibrant discussion. No prior musical training is required; we will work together in class to develop our own vocabulary for discussing musical works.