Bartók and the Grotesque: Studies in Modernity, the Body and Contradiction in Music, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Bartók and the Grotesque

Studies in Modernity, the Body and Contradiction in Music, 1st Edition

By Julie Brown


192 pages

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pub: 2007-10-28
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The grotesque is one of art's most puzzling figures - transgressive, comprising an unresolveable hybrid, generally focussing on the human body, full of hyperbole, and ultimately semantically deeply puzzling. In Bluebeard's Castle (1911), The Wooden Prince (1916/17), The Miraculous Mandarin (1919/24, rev. 1931) and Cantata Profana (1930), Bartók engaged scenarios featuring either overtly grotesque bodies or closely related transformations and violations of the body. In a number of instrumental works he also overtly engaged grotesque satirical strategies, sometimes - as in Two Portraits: 'Ideal' and 'Grotesque' - indicating this in the title. In this book, Julie Brown argues that Bartók's concerns with stylistic hybridity (high-low, East-West, tonal-atonal-modal), the body, and the grotesque are inter-connected. While Bartók developed each interest in highly individual ways, and did so separately to a considerable extent, the three concerns remained conceptually interlinked. All three were thoroughly implicated in cultural constructions of the Modern during the period in which Bartók was composing.


’This volume is a valuable contribution to the literature that provides thought-provoking material for future research, especially regarding the interpretation of bodily meanings. … Julie Brown has opened up a hugely fascinating area of musical modernism that remains largely unexplored.’ Music and Letters

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; Bartók and the19th century grotesque; Bartók and the body; The Mandarin's miraculous body: 'expressly for our vexation'?; The 3rd String Quartet as grotesque; Conclusion and coda: on Adorno and the grotesque; Select bibliography; Index.

About the Author

Julie Brown is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Music at Royal Holloway, University of London, UK.

About the Series

Royal Musical Association Monographs

Royal Musical Association Monographs

This series was originally supported by funds made available to the Royal Musical Association from the estate of Thurston Dart. Its purpose is to provide a medium for specialized investigations of a topic, concept or repertory - studies of a kind that would not normally be feasible for commercial publishers and that would be too long for most periodicals.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MUSIC / General