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In Langston Hughes' poem called "Cultural Exchange", he uses the names Leontyne and Lieder. I've never heard these before,and was curious as to what he was relating them to. I assume they are some sort of German Nazi names, but are they well-known ones that I've never heard of, are they just some random German names, or am I completely off?

-- Anonymous, April 02, 2000


Lieder is the technical term used for "art songs" in German. In other words, classical music and opera, not pop songs.

Leontyne has to be a reference to Leontyne Price, especially with that spelling. Leontyne Price was a very well known black singer who was one of the first black singers to become well known in the areas of classically trained singing, particularly opera. She was probably best known for her role in the second staging of "Porgy and Bess," but she also made history by being cast in several operas as an Egyptian woman, most specifically Aida and Cleopatra. Given Hughes' emphasis several times on the black history of having raised the pyramids, I'm sure this is part of what he's talking about.

He's saying that Black culture is "infecting" high culture at the same time that high culture is "infecting" black culture. After all, Jazz, which is absolutely a black form of music, is considered by most today to be a "highbrow" sort of music, isn't it?

-- Anonymous, April 03, 2000

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