This weekend saw the inaugural annual conference of the new RMA Music and Philosophy Study Group, organized with brilliant success by musicologists and philosophers around the UK. I was chairing a session and was invited to join a group of three musicologists live-tweeting the event (the others were @eeleach and @laurenredhead). Since the study group itself is an interesting new venture and the experience of live tweeting from a conference both a relatively new idea and a curious experience, I thought it worth blogging about my reflexions. Continue reading
The next issue of The Wagner Journal will carry my review-article on Laurence Dreyfus’s Wagner and the Erotic Impulse. The full text PDF is available here; the full text may also be read as a web page. Dreyfus’s discussion of the erotics in Wagner’s music is based on an attentiveness to historical voices, including Wagner’s own. I find the decision to sidestep more than a century of later thought problematic and the decision to offer a personal reading of the erotic in Wagner’s music, rather than broadening out into cultural criticism, something of a missed opportunity. Continue reading
I’ve been awarded an AHRC Fellowship from January 2011 to January 2012 to work on my next book, Modernism’s Quilting Points: Heidegger, Žižek, Walton’, which will result in a Cambridge University Press monograph (with the slightly different title The Quilting Points of Musical Modernism: Revolution, Reaction, and William Walton). A summary of the project follows.
Modernism is both a contested aesthetic category and a powerful political statement. Modernist music was condemned as ‘degenerate’ by the Nazis and forcibly replaced by ‘socialist realism’ under the Soviets. Sympathetic philosophers and critics have interpreted it as a vital intellectual defence against totalitarianism, yet some American critics have labelled it ‘elitist’, ‘undemocratic’, and ‘unnatural’. Despite its evident importance, there is little agreement among this range of critics as to what the canon of modernist music actually comprises, or what its aims are. Continue reading