Music, Criticism, and the Challenge of History: Shaping Modern Musical Thought in Late Nineteenth-Century Vienna

Music, Criticism, and the Challenge of History: Shaping Modern Musical Thought in Late Nineteenth-Century Vienna

Music, Criticism, and the Challenge of History: Shaping Modern Musical Thought in Late Nineteenth-Century Vienna

Music, Criticism, and the Challenge of History: Shaping Modern Musical Thought in Late Nineteenth-Century Vienna

Synopsis

More than a century after Guido Adler's appointment to the first chair in musicology at the University of Vienna, Music, Criticism, and the Challenge of History provides a first look at the discipline in this earliest period, and at the ideological dilemmas and methodological anxieties thatcharacterized it upon its institutionalization. Author Kevin Karnes contends that some of the most vital questions surrounding musicology's disciplinary identities today-the relationship between musicology and criticism, the role of the subject in analysis and the narration of history, and theresponsibilities of the scholar to the listening public-originate in these conflicted and largely forgotten beginnings. Karnes lays bare the nature of music study in the late nineteenth century through insightful readings of long-overlooked contributions by three of musicology's foremost pioneers-Adler, Eduard Hanslick, and Heinrich Schenker. Shaped as much by the skeptical pronouncements of the likes of Nietzscheand Wagner as it was by progressivist ideologies of scientific positivism, the new discipline comprised an array of oft-contested and intensely personal visions of music study, its value, and its future. Karnes introduces readers to a Hanslick who rejected the call of positivist scholarship anddedicated himself to penning an avowedly subjective history of Viennese musical life. He argues that Schenker's analytical experiments had roots in a Wagner-inspired search for a critical alternative to Adler's style-obsessed scholarship. And he illuminates Adler's determined response to Nietzsche'swarnings about the vitality of artistic and cultural life in an increasingly scientific age. Through sophisticated and meticulous presentation, Music, Criticism, and the Challenge of History demonstrates that the new discipline of musicology was inextricably tied in with the cultural discourse ofits time.

Excerpt

More than a hundred years after Guido Adler's appointment to the first chair in musicology at the University of Vienna, the ambivalence, uncertainties, and ideological dilemmas that characterized the discipline at the time of its institutionalization remain largely unacknowledged and little understood. While musicology in Adler's day is widely identified with a positivist endeavor to transform the discipline into a science, this book argues that the fi eld consisted of a contested array of diverse and often highly personal visions of music study, its value, and its future. Exploring for the first time the encounters of three of the period's leading writers on the art—Adler, Eduard Hanslick, and Heinrich Schenker—with the work of each other and their contemporaries, it elaborates a portrait of the nascent discipline that is far more complex than has previously been suspected. It suggests that these fi gures’ pioneering work owed as much to such skeptical and irrationalist currents in the fin de siècle cultural discourse as Nietzsche's philosophy of science, Richard Wagner's theories of nation and identity, and Julius Langbehn's “idealism of anti-modernity” as it did to the positivist movement itself. And it argues that some of the most pressing quest ion s to figure in

1. For representative views of music study and positivist scholarship, see Joseph Kerman, Contemplating Music: Challenges to Musicology (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1985); Bojan Bujić, ed., Music in European Thought, 1851–1912, Cambridge Readings in the Literature of Music (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988); Kurt Blaukopf, Pioniere empiristischer Musikforschung. Österreich und Böhmen als Wiege der modernen Kunstsoziologie, Wissenschaftliche Weltauffassung und Kunst, no. 1 (Vienna: Hölder-Pichler-Tempsky, 1995); and Alastair Williams, Constructing Musicology (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2001).

2. Classic studies of such skeptical ideologies and the movements to which they gave rise include Fritz Stern, The Politics of Cultural Despair: A Study in the Rise of the Germanic Ideology (New York:

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