Wynton Marsalis on How Music Theory Applies to Diplomacy, Personal Life

November 19, 2013

In the video above, famed musician Wynton Marsalis speaks with Aspen Institute President and CEO Walter Isaacson and explains why cultural education is an important tool of diplomacy and decision-making, from the international level to the personal.

It’s no surprise that legendary musician, composer and educator Wynton Marsalis responds to questions through both conversation and music. At the Aspen Institute’s 30th Annual Awards Dinner, Marsalis did both, providing insightful commentary on everything from international diplomacy to the impact of the lack of cultural education in the US. Marsalis was honored with the 2013 Henry Crown Leadership Award at the dinner, along with former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who was honored with the 2013 Global Leadership Award.

Marsalis, a US State Department cultural ambassador for jazz and a United Nations-appointed messenger of peace, is a long-time practitioner of music in diplomatic settings who uses commonalities to bridge differences. Responding to the question, “what should we do about Pakistan?” Marsalis replied thoughtfully, “we need to find the nuances and the things that we have in common.” He continues his response, this time with music, in the video below.

He finished the night with a stunning rendition of George and Ira Gershwin’s “Embraceable You.”

View the full video of Marsalis’ remarks and performance on our Institute Multimedia page.


Kissinger on Syria: Absolute Victory for Anybody Would Lead to Bloodbath