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Title:A Static Sublime: Morton Feldman and the Visual, 1950--1970
Author(s):Boutwell, Brett N.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Patterson, David
Department / Program:Music
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Abstract:Few artists of the past half century have experienced such a rise in posthumous stature as has Morton Feldman (1926--1987), a composer who began his career in the shadow of his more famous colleague John Cage, but one whose creative voice is now regarded as among the most distinctive in American music since the Second World War. This dissertation concerns the role of visual sources in general, and abstract expressionist painting in particular, on Feldman's music and artistic thought during the first two decades of his career. Its first chapter serves as an overview of Feldman's professional life and a review of primary sources and secondary literature pertaining to his work. Chapter Two is devoted to two series of pieces he composed during the early 1950s in a new notational format of his own invention, focusing especially on the influence of contemporary gesture painting on those works' style and on the compositional processes that gave rise to them. In those early years of his career, Feldman encountered in the discourse surrounding New York School painting a perspective on art with close ties to the philosophy of existentialism, then in vogue among many of the city's intellectuals, artists, and writers; Chapter Three concerns his embrace of its rhetoric in framing his own artistic stance in numerous essays and interviews of the 1950s and 1960s. Chapter Four examines the development of his musical style across those decades through the lens of his evolving notational designs and addresses the role played by these inherently visual forms in giving rise to his conception of a "suspended" musical temporality, the centerpiece of his mature aesthetic. Chapter Five considers the stylistic traits of his work during the 1960s in light of the visual artists who most inspired it, parsing the relationship between their motionless paintings and his seemingly static music. The dissertation's Epilogue traces Feldman's exit from New York City in the early 1970s and previews the changes in his music and artistic outlook that ensued in the next phase of his career.
Issue Date:2006
Description:285 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2006.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI3242797
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-25
Date Deposited:2006

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