Listening to Reason: Culture, Subjectivity, and by Michael P. Steinberg

By Michael P. Steinberg

This pathbreaking paintings unearths the pivotal position of music--musical works and musical culture--in debates approximately society, self, and tradition that cast ecu modernity during the "long 19th century." Michael Steinberg argues that, from the past due 1700s to the early 1900s, tune not just mirrored but additionally embodied glossy subjectivity because it more and more engaged and criticized outdated regimes of energy, trust, and illustration. His purview levels from Mozart to Mahler, and from the sacred to the secular, together with opera in addition to symphonic and solo instrumental music.

Defining subjectivity because the adventure instead of the location of the "I," Steinberg argues that music's embodiment of subjectivity concerned its obvious ability to "listen" to itself, its prior, its wishes. Nineteenth-century tune, specifically song from a north German Protestant sphere, encouraged introspection in a fashion that the tune and artwork of past classes, particularly the Catholic baroque with its emphasis at the visible, did not.

The e-book analyzes musical subjectivity firstly from Mozart via Mendelssohn, then seeks it, in its valuable bankruptcy, in these features of Wagner that contradict his personal ideological imperialism, earlier than ultimately uncovering its survival within the post-Wagnerian restoration from musical and different ideologies.

Engagingly written but theoretically subtle, Listening to Reason represents a startlingly unique corrective to cultural history's long-standing inhibition to have interaction with tune whereas proposing a strong substitute imaginative and prescient of the modern.

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Additional info for Listening to Reason: Culture, Subjectivity, and Nineteenth-Century Music

Sample text

At the same time, he exerts power from beginning to end over the world around him through an erotic power musically defined. Although he is not identical to musical energy in the opera’s cosmos—Joseph Kerman and others have argued convincingly that his own music is the opera’s least innovative—he is at least simultaneous to the opera’s musical and emotional energy. After his demise, the surviving characters sag and droop—like Wagner’s gods in the absence of Holda’s apples. They regain life only in their memory of Don Giovanni, even if they censor their own memories into a collective, moralizing posture.

The Habsburg perspective that binds Vienna to Venice and Mozart to Da Ponte also binds Italy to Spain as the sites of baroque power and energy. In these operas’ referential world, old-regime Europe is a function of the Catholic baroque. Consequently, modernist antagonists of the baroque regime often invoke the gestures and categories of Protestantism, even when an ex- Staging Subjectivity • 23 plicit avowal of a new religion is completely irrelevant. Protestantism provides a rhetoric of antibaroque resistance, even when its own structure of belief is not avowed or relevant.

For an instant, pious terror displaces sensuality, and a cathedral seems to displace both Don Giovanni’s palace, his party, and the opera house itself. The baroque architecture of domed interiors, especially in cupolas over altars, integrates sensuality and its possibilities of excess into the shape and ideology of its overall scheme of divine totality and power. This baroque— perhaps Mozart and Da Ponte’s idea of the Spanish baroque—is unable to do so. The sensuality of Don Giovanni is too blunt for social integration.

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