The Schenker Project Culture, Race, and Music Theory in Fin-de-siècle Vienna

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2010-05-24
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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Today we think of Heinrich Schenker, who lived in Vienna from 1884 until his death in 1935, as the most influential music theorist of the twentieth century. But he saw his theoretical writings as part of a comprehensive project for the reform of musical composition, performance, criticism, and education-and beyond that, as addressing fundamental cultural, social, and political problems of the deeply troubled age in which he lived. This book aims to explain Schenker's project through reading his key works within a series of period contexts. These include music criticism, the field in which Schenker first made his name; Viennese modernism, particularly the debate over architectural ornamentation; German cultural conservatism, which is the source of many of Schenker's most deeply entrenched values; and Schenker's own position as a Galician Jew who came to Vienna just as fully racialized anti-semitism was developing there. As well as presenting an unfamiliar perspective on the cultural and political ferment of fin-de-siecle Vienna, this book reveals how deeply Schenker's theory is permeated by the social and political. It also raises issues concerning the meaning and value of music theory, and the extent to which today's music-theoretical agenda unwittingly reflects the values and concerns of a very different world.

Author Biography

NICHOLAS COOK is 1684 Professor of Music at Cambridge University. He previously directed the AHRC Research Centre for the History and Analysis of Recorded Music (CHARM) at Royal Holloway, University of London. He is the author of articles and books on a wide variety of musicological and theoretical subjects. He was elected Fellow of the British Academy in 2001.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Schenker's contexts
Foundations of the Schenker project
Schenker and the philosophers
Formalists against formalism
Rehabilitating musical logic
The reluctant modernist
Curlicues and catastrophe
Ornamentation and critique in fin-de-siècle Vienna
Modernists against modernism
Alienated classics
The conservative tradition
Schenker's politics
The logic of nostalgia
The anachronistic city
The politics of assimilation
Schenker's project and Jewish tradition
The logic of alterity
Schenker and others
Beyond assimilation
Schenker's Rosenhaus
The posthumous Schenker
Conclusion: music theory as social practice
List of references
Appendix: 'The spirit of musical technique', Translated by William Pastille
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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