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Title:Anton Webern and the politics of historicism
Author(s):Miles, Stephen Tipton
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Brun, Herbert
Department / Program:Music
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Abstract:The appropriation of historical techniques and formal models in a modernist context presents numerous problems, both aesthetic and political. The subject of this thesis is the unique approach to these problems practiced by Anton Webern, an approach which can be described as "critical historicism." The author attempts to show that Webern's historicism supported the innovative features of his music and, in so doing, enhanced its political significance.
The chapters of this thesis are designed to deal successively with the three aspects of this subject. Chapter One, "The Problems of Historicism", offers definitions of historicist practice and delineates the principal varieties of musical historicism, including tribute, invocation, parody, and pastiche. Chapter Two, "The Elements of Webern's Historicism", discusses the origins of Webern's interest in historical techniques and models, and presents an inventory of the basic devices employed by Webern.
Chapters Three and Four deal with those features of Webern's style that are most widely known and that are commonly regarded as modernist in character. Chapter Three, "The Innovations of Webern's Music", discusses not only the most original aspects of Webern's technique (his concentration of form and new concept of theme), but also the sources of those techniques, both musical and nonmusical. Chapter Four, "Historicism and Innovation", attempts to demonstrate the unique nature of Webern's historicism, focusing on Webern's intensification of the logical function of each appropriated form or technique.
Having established the main elements and procedures of Webern's historicism in its unequivocal embrace of modernism, attention is then turned to the social importance of the music. In Chapter Five, "The Political Significance of Webern's Music", the political implications of Webern's compositional practice are examined, as are the consequences of this practice to Webern's career. Actions taken by the Nazis against Webern are discussed, as well as Webern's attitudes toward his oppressors. The final chapter, "The Politics of Historicism", serves as a summary, drawing implications from the preceding argument.
Issue Date:1990
Rights Information:Copyright 1990 Miles, Stephen Tipton
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9114346
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9114346

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