Brent Wetters
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Dissertation
Darmstadt and the Philosophical Turn This critical history of the Darmstadt International Summer Courses for New Music centers on their formative years from 1946 to 1960. Musicologist Wolfgang Steinecke founded the summer courses immediately after World War II with the support of the American reconstruction effort, and within the context of the wider denazification process in Germany at the time. Because it was difficult to obtain travel permits in the occupied Germany, the summer courses remained a local phenomenon for the first several years. In 1950, however, Bruno Maderna, Luigi Nono, Pierre Boulez arrived from Italy and France, turning it into an international event. Philosopher Theodor W. Adorno also arrived in the same year to teach seminars on music criticism. His Philosophie der Neuen Musik, published in 1949, was widely read and distributed among the participants. The book showed ways in which a compositional philosophy could be extrapolated from musical compositions, but it also had the unintended effect of suggesting the opposite: compositions could be written to conform to a philosophy. My history of Darmstadt recasts its major developments - especially the rise of serialism and aleatoric compositional methods - as symptoms of this philosophical turn. By accounting for the philosophical underpinnings of these compositions, my research offers a new way to approach forgotten and often misunderstood musical works, with a particular emphasis on the music of Bruno Maderna.
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Contact: bwetters at medusarecords dot org
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