Listening Awry: Music and Alterity in German Culture

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This work contains highly original observations about the relationship between music and German culture. In his first book, Listening Subjects , David Schwarz succeeded in fusing post-Lacanian psychoanalytic, musical-theoretical, and musical-historical perspectives. In Listening Awry , he expands his project to tell a story of historical modernism writ large - how German music spanning two centuries refracts changes in society and culture, as well as the impacts of concepts introduced by psychoanalysis. Schwarz shows how post-Lacanian psychoanalysis can be applied to ideological interpellation that connects psychoanalysis to culture and how music theory can ground these considerations in precise details of musical textuality. He listens awry in several ways: by understanding musical meaning in both objective and socially structured ways, by embracing historical and also aesthetic approaches, by addressing high art as well as popular music, and by listening around conventional forms of musical meaning to reach toward that which evades signification. Structured around four themes - trauma, the other/Other, the look/gaze binary, and Judaism - Listening Awry explores five key moments in post-Enlightenment music: the rise of the singular orchestral conductor and the emergence of a new form of alterity, the Art Song and the sublime of the delicate (a correlate of the Kantian mathematical and dynamical sublime), the birth of psychoanalysis and the twentieth-century turn toward atonality, German war songs and the subversion of German music by the Nazis, and two different versions of Wagner's Parsifal that were performed one hundred years apart and in radically different contexts. This highly original work, filled with imaginative readings and disquieting observations, links trauma with the culture and history of modernity and German music, deftly tying the experience of the body to the sounds it hears: how it reaches us slowly, penetrates the skin, and resonates.