The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Which political campaigns have used classical music? | August 14, 2016

By Jacob Stockinger

In the past, the music that political campaigns used was often jingles that reminded one of Madison Avenue advertising, even when they were composed by Broadway song master Irving Berlin.

These days, it seems to The Ear that most political campaigns use rock, pop or country music.

Sometimes folk music.

Never jazz.

And, one supposes, you will never hear the blues since that would be a pretty downbeat message for politicians.

But leave it to our friends at WQXR-FM, the famed classical music radio station in New York City, to offer some samples of political campaign music, including some that used classical music.

Ike campaign political campaigns and classical music

Donald Trump (below), the current Republican nominee for president, has tried to use the famous opera aria “Nessum dorma” (None Shall Sleep) from “Turandot” by Giacomo Puccini.

Donald Trump thumbs up

Fittingly, in the opera the moving and beautiful aria is sung by a prince to woo a Chinese tyrant or despot.

The Ear especially loved the way it was used so appropriately during the carpet bombing of Cambodia by the U.S. in the movie “The Killing Fields.”

Trump used one of the best versions available – sung by Luciano Pavarotti, one of which has 38 million hits and which you can hear in a YouTube video at the bottom.

But the Pavarotti estate refused to grant him permission to use it and asked him to cease and desist. Good for them.

Now Trump uses something in the public domain: the Overture to the opera “The Thieving Magpie” by Giachino Rossini.

Anyway, here is a link to the story:!/story/6-us-political-campaigns-set-to-classical-music/


  1. Here’s a detailed list of presidential candidates with their campaign songs going back to 1800 (when Thomas Jefferson used “Jefferson and Liberty” written by Robert Treat Pain Jr.).

    Only a baseball historian, Mr. STUART SCHIMLER, would have put in all this kind of detailed work on such an earth shaking subject!

    Note that none of the songs (that I can see) are classical music.

    My favorite: “Click with Dick” for Richard Nixon.

    Comment by fflambeau — August 14, 2016 @ 7:24 am

  2. At least 2 of the examples cited in the linked article contain no classical music at all:

    the Ike (Eisenhower) campaign song (which sounds like it could be selling toothpaste or hair oil) and the Hillary Clinton campaign song, “Fight Song”, which is actually quite a neat, zippy number.

    But the fact that Renee Fleming may have been in that video clip doesn’t mean it is classical music!

    Another example of a writer in search of a catchy headline?

    Comment by fflambeau — August 14, 2016 @ 6:56 am

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