The persistence of modernism in the music and thought of Mathias Spahlinger

Smith, Neil T. (2017) The persistence of modernism in the music and thought of Mathias Spahlinger. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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This thesis discusses the music and thought of one of Germany’s leading practitioners of contemporary music, composer Mathias Spahlinger. His work will be examined within the framework of studies of modernism in music, and aesthetics more widely, revealing a compositional approach that displays significant continuities with the practice of previous modernists, while also constituting a compellingly critical reinvention of many of their ideas. Through engaging with positions critical of previous modernist music, crucial debates in the composer’s music and thought will be identified, including the modes of listening assumed by modernist composers, implicit hierarchies in the thought and practice of modernist music, and issues of musical autonomy and political effect. In particular, Spahlinger’s unique exploration of the issue of musical autonomy will be considered from two differing perspectives in analyses of his breakthrough orchestral piece, passage/paysage (1990), and the choral work, in dem ganzen ocean von empfindungen eine welle absondern, sie anhalten (1985). It will be shown that these pieces rely on a form of expression in which abstract musical argument and political intention are merged to the point of indivisibility – and that this constitutes a crucial element of Spahlinger’s modernist project.

Alongside these two vital examples of the composer’s practice, this thesis will also seek to contextualise the composer within a specifically West German historical situation, and within a wider aesthetic discourse than his own favoured Frankfurt-School-influenced paradigm. To this end, the practice of the poet Hans Magnus Enzensberger, and the painter Anselm Kiefer, will be discussed to argue that the composer is part of a wider, particularly German, strand of modernist thinking; while the work of Jacques Rancière will also be employed as a framework to examine the composer’s intense interest in the politics of musical perception. In considering these broader cultural and aesthetic conditions, this project is wider ranging than previous scholarly contributions in German, and is the most substantial contribution to English-speaking Spahlinger scholarship to date.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Adlington, Robert
Lane, Jeremy
Keywords: Music, Modernism, Mathias Spahlinger, Aesthetics, Germany, Anselm Kiefer, Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Jacques Ranciere
Subjects: M Music and Literature on music > ML Literature of music
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Arts > School of Humanities
Item ID: 41562
Depositing User: Smith, Neil
Date Deposited: 20 Jul 2017 04:40
Last Modified: 07 May 2020 11:32

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