This book takes up pieces of music that imagine community. These works do not illustrate concepts of community or make community an explicit theme. However, the particular techniques and structure of each work project an imagining of community that is unique to the piece. Studying the pieces together lays the groundwork for re-imagining the relation of arts and society. Imagining community means imagining what is good for the community and what is involved in pursuing its good. The apparently erratic imagining of the common good in Shostakovich's music reveals a commitment continuously to re-imagine the good of the community and its bearing on the individual's well-being. The imagining also means envisioning a group identity that constitutes and is constituted by the individuals in the group. The shifting relations between protagonists and the identity of their community (enacted by the chorus) in Verdi's operas show what happens when leaders lull to maintain this connection.
Composers are far more aware of the bases of social problems than has generally been supposed, and learning to hear the wisdom bound up in their music-making opens fresh prospects for basic and far-reaching renegotiations of community.