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Title: Half a Life: Dialectics of Music and Poetry in German and English Art Song
Authors: Bergmann, R. J. Rubin
Advisors: Brodsky, Claudia
Contributors: Comparative Literature Department
Keywords: Art Song
German Lied
Intermedial Aesthetics
Musico-Poetic Relations
Song Cycles
Subjects: Aesthetics
German literature
Issue Date: 2021
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: It is widely agreed that the German Lied underwent a profound reinvention under the auspices of Franz Schubert, who recognized untapped artistic potential in the setting of poetry to music. There is far less agreement on the philosophical meaning of Schubert’s innovations. Half a Life: Dialectics of Music and Poetry in German and English Art Song asks what is expressed and accomplished through the German Romantics’ renewed interest in the setting of poetry to music. The two basic questions that drive the project are: What are the aesthetic properties of the art song (speaking both generically and of individual art songs), and what conditions permitted and promoted the rebirth of art song in nineteenth-century Europe? While focusing on the German-speaking world of the early nineteenth century, this dissertation also looks to England for comparison, especially by way of the nineteenth-century British novel and the English Musical Renaissance of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The central claim is that in the art song form, words and music exist in a dialectical relationship that is at once cooperative and mutually undermining. Several dialectical phenomena receive special attention, including dialectics of meaning-making, meter, the creative aspect of interpretation, the concept of the “lyric” in Lieder, and the capacity of music to extend the afterlife of a poem in posterity. The conclusion develops the analogy between intermedial and interpersonal interdependence, exploring the ethical as well as aesthetic implications of the comparison. An introduction and coda situate this inquiry within the political and pedagogical contexts of the present moment.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Comparative Literature

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