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Discourses on Time in the European Avant-Garde

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dc.contributor.advisor Lochhead, Judith en_US
dc.contributor.advisor Smith, Stephen D en_US
dc.contributor.author Hayes, Aaron Allen en_US
dc.contributor.other Department of Music en_US
dc.date.accessioned 2017-09-20T16:50:37Z
dc.date.available 2017-09-20T16:50:37Z
dc.date.issued 2015-12-01
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/11401/76552 en_US
dc.description 289 pg. en_US
dc.description.abstract In the 1950s and 1960s, European composers, especially those interested in the development of serialism and electronic music, framed many of their aesthetic and compositional challenges as problems of time. This dissertation examines the writings and music of five notable composers from this era, and reconstructs the philosophical discourses that implicitly and explicitly provide the intellectual horizons for these temporal problems. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Karel Goeyvaerts, Pierre Boulez and Jean Barraqué attended the seminar offered by Olivier Messiaen at the Conservatoire National Supérior de Musique de Paris. With the exception of Barraqué, these composers also attended the International Summer Courses at Darmstadt, the famous center for new music in post-war Europe. There they engaged with the philosopher Theodor Adorno and other composers who were also interested in developing theoretical approaches to new music. This musical and intellectual climate fostered a number of discourses that considered time to be of central importance to the study and creation of music. In doing so, these composers channeled the broader concern with time that marked philosophy and science in the twentieth century. In each chapter of this dissertation, I situate the music and writings of these composers into the philosophical discussions of time that lived in close proximity to their intellectual world. While there were a variety of different theories about musical time to emerge from this era, these composers shared a similar set of intellectual inspirations that led them to formulate their problems in similar ways, notably the problem of musical experience. The first two chapters demonstrate that Henri Bergson’s thought provides an important philosophical background for a number of composers, especially the music and theory of Stockhausen and Boulez. Stockhausen’s interest in ‘qualitative’ forms of musical time channel the strong Bergsonian influences that the composer most likely received through Messiaen, Adorno, and Pierre Souvtchinsky. In Stockhausen’s famous essay, “…how time passes…†and his woodwind quintet Zeitmaße (1957) it becomes clear that his concept of ‘qualitative flow’ relies on a Bergsonian response to his scientific study of acoustics. Boulez must be viewed in a similar context. The idea of ‘smooth’ time that Boulez works through in his 1960 Darmstadt lectures parallel the mathematical concept of smoothness in the work of Hermann Weyl, a compatriot of Einstein who was influential in the development of topology. But contrary to Boulez’s mathematical heritage (the field he studied before committing himself to music), the composer was also concerned with the experience and ‘occupation’ of time, and brought in psychological principles of musical experience that also echo Bergsonian premises about the nature of musical time, especially Bergson’s critique of early twentieth century mathematics. After pointing out the resonances between Boulez’s concept of smooth and striated time with both Bergson and the development of calculus and topology, I demonstrate how this tension within the concept of smooth time is exemplified in one of his settings of Mallarmé’s poems, ‘Une dentelle s’abolit’ (1957) from Pli selon Pli. Both Stockhausen and Boulez thus use the problem of time to negotiate between scientific or mathematical frameworks on one hand, with their concern with the temporal nature of human experience on the other. The confrontation between Goeyvaerts and Adorno at Darmstadt over the aesthetics of integral serialism is another famous situation that was directly related the issue of musical time. Adorno’s philosophy of time grounds his critique of serialism, and Goeyvaerts’s Sonata for Two Pianos (1951) illustrated for the philosopher the problematically ‘static’ character of serial music. The way in which Goeyvaerts and Adorno conflicted in their interpretation of musical time provides a major window into the general aesthetic challenges that the composers at Darmstadt presented themselves with. In the fourth chapter, I develop a related notion of musical stasis that was interpreted through the theological concept of eternity that Messiaen, Goeyvaerts, and Stockhausen referred to, focusing on the influence of their their Catholic faith and the theological traditions surrounding time and eternity. Responding to the large body of work on Messiaen’s theological background, I argue that Messiaen’s concept of eternity is indebted on many points to Augustine, even though the composer himself refers most often to the thought of Thomas Aquinas. This subtle yet decisive difference in the theological understanding of eternity opens up a number of useful analytical approaches to Messiaen’s interest in rhythm and his influence on his students. This influence can most readily be felt in Messiaen’s Quatre études de rythme (1951), and my analysis focuses on the metric and rhythmic elements of the first etude, ‘Île de feu I.’ The final chapter develops a concept of temporality that grows out of the intellectual world of Barraqué. Although it is well known that Barraqué was Michel Foucault’s lover in the early 1950s, the full implications of their shared intellectual pursuits have not been fully grasped by prior scholarship. Their mutual interest in the writings of Hermann Broch, Maurice Blanchot, and Ludwig Binswanger clarifies some of the extent to which Barraqué absorbed important theses about the nature of human temporality from these philosophers. My analysis of Barraqué’s piece, Le temps restitué (1957) for soprano and large ensemble illustrates how Barraqué interpreted the philosophical question of human temporality through the treatment of voice, expressivity, and large scale organization. These composers do not share a single definition of time, but rather the same intellectual horizons. These horizons provide composers with a set of problems that are generative of a diversity of creative solutions. The question of time helped to articulate a set of common problems and challenges that these composers took to be of central importance to their compositional and theoretical efforts, and likewise defined a significant portion of their historical influence. en_US
dc.description.sponsorship This work is sponsored by the Stony Brook University Graduate School in compliance with the requirements for completion of degree. en_US
dc.format Monograph en_US
dc.format.medium Electronic Resource en_US
dc.language.iso en_US en_US
dc.publisher The Graduate School, Stony Brook University: Stony Brook, NY. en_US
dc.subject.lcsh Music -- Philosophy en_US
dc.subject.other Barraque, Jean, Boulez, Pierre, Goeyvaerts, Karel, Messiaen, Olivier, Stockhausen, Karlheinz, Time en_US
dc.title Discourses on Time in the European Avant-Garde en_US
dc.type Dissertation en_US
dc.mimetype Application/PDF en_US
dc.contributor.committeemember Steege, Benjamin en_US
dc.contributor.committeemember Casey, Edward en_US
dc.contributor.committeemember Hulse, Brian en_US
dc.contributor.committeemember . en_US


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