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Visiting Scholars Seminar: New Research on Europe

Hearing Echoes: Reception History, the Musical Memorial, and the Case of Alban Berg’s Violin Concerto


September 27, 2017
12:15pm - 1:45pm
Hoffmann Room, Busch Hall
September 27, 2017
12:15pm - 1:45pm
Hoffmann Room, Busch Hall

In recent years, the field of memory studies has increasingly reached beyond cultural representations to address questions of reception. Building on the theoretical work of Aleida Assmann, this paper will explore how these developments may be applied to the study of music as a medium of cultural memory. More specifically, I will ask how a work’s performance history affects the range of interpretive meanings it can carry forward, and I will illustrate these processes with regard to Alban Berg’s Violin Concerto. I argue that recovering the history of this score’s extraordinarily contested premiere in Berg’s native Vienna in 1936 has the potential to shift the memorial content of this work today, bringing it into explicit dialogue with the cultural memory of the Second World War and with the end of German-Jewish modernism in Central Europe.

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