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

Bartók and the Grotesque
Studies in Modernity, the Body and Contradiction in Music

ISBN 9780754657774
Published November 28, 2007 by Routledge
192 Pages

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Book Description

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.

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.

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


’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