Modernism and the Cult of Mountains: Music, Opera, Cinema: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Modernism and the Cult of Mountains: Music, Opera, Cinema

1st Edition

By Christopher Morris


220 pages

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Adopting and transforming the Romantic fascination with mountains, modernism in the German-speaking lands claimed the Alps as a space both of resistance and of escape. This new 'cult of mountains' reacted to the symptoms and alienating forces associated with modern culture, defining and reinforcing models of subjectivity based on renewed wholeness and an aggressive attitude to physical and mental health. The arts were critical to this project, none more so than music, which occupied a similar space in Austro-German culture: autonomous, pure, sublime. In Modernism and the Cult of Mountains opera serves as a nexus, shedding light on the circulation of contesting ideas about politics, nature, technology and aesthetics. Morris investigates operatic representations of the high mountains in German modernism, showing how the liminal quality of the landscape forms the backdrop for opera's reflexive engagement with the identity and limits of its constituent media, not least music. This operatic reflexivity, in which the very question of music's identity is repeatedly restaged, invites consideration of musical encounters with mountains in other genres, and Morris shows how these issues resonate in Strauss's Alpine Symphony and in the Bergfilm (mountain film). By using music and the ideology of mountains to illuminate aspects of each other, Morris makes an original and valuable contribution to the critical study of modernism.


'Christopher Morris takes the cult of mountains as an unusual and fascinating point of view from which to consider anew some of the creative tensions at the core of German modernism, including such hotly debated themes as the place of the aesthetic in modernist thought and the role of music in early-twentieth-century German culture. This original and exciting book will interest not only musicologists, but also film scholars, cultural historians, and anyone interested in the relationship between art, culture and society.' Emanuele Senici, University of Rome La Sapienza, Italy 'With Modernism and the cult of mountains, Christopher Morris provides a most interesting contribution both to the lively field of opera studies and to the investigation of German modernism.' Die Theaterforschung

About the Author

Dr Christopher Morris is Lecturer in Music at University College Cork and teaches in the university's interdisciplinary programmes in film studies and digital arts. He has published widely on opera, new media and film music, including Reading Opera Between the Lines (2002). Current research projects include a critical analysis of opera on video and an investigation of contemporary staging practices in opera.

About the Series

Ashgate Interdisciplinary Studies in Opera

Ashgate Interdisciplinary Studies in Opera
The Ashgate Interdisciplinary Studies in Opera series provides a centralized and prominent forum for the presentation of cutting-edge scholarship that draws on numerous disciplinary approaches to a wide range of subjects associated with the creation, performance, and reception of opera (and related genres) in various historical and social contexts. There is great need for a broader approach to scholarship about opera. In recent years, the course of study has developed significantly, going beyond traditional musicological approaches to reflect new perspectives from literary criticism and comparative literature, cultural history, philosophy, art history, theatre history, gender studies, film studies, political science, philology, psycho-analysis, and medicine. The new brands of scholarship have allowed a more comprehensive interrogation of the complex nexus of means of artistic expression operative in opera, one that has meaningfully challenged prevalent historicist and formalist musical approaches. The Ashgate Interdisciplinary Studies in Opera series continues to move this important trend forward by including essay collections and monographs that reflect the ever-increasing interest in opera in non-musical contexts. Books in the series are linked by their emphasis on the study of a single genre - opera - yet are distinguished by their individualized and novel approaches by scholars from various disciplines/fields of inquiry. The remit of the series welcomes studies of seventeenth century to contemporary opera from all geographical locations, including non-Western topics.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MUSIC / Ethnomusicology