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Musical Modernism in the Twentieth Century

Translated by Wojciech Bońkowski

Series:

Maciej Gołąb

This book offers a fresh discussion of the methodology of music historiography. So far historiographical methodology has always depended on other fields within humanities (especially on history) to a degree where it moved the focus of its thought away from the musical work’s structure and away from the musical work itself. Musical Modernism in the Twentieth Century looks at musical structures in its cultural context, using different methodological models for the interpretation of the subsequent phases of the twentieth-century musical modernism.
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Chapter 1. What History of Modernism?

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Chapter 1

What History of Modernism?

1. Old and New Source Studies

Historians of twentieth-century music rarely systematise their sources, and often use them freely instead of reflectively, professing a kind of source naturalism. This is because historiography of twentieth-century music is the younger sister of music criticism, who has never held academic methodological strategies in high esteem. The source situation of twentieth-century music history, similarly to that of general twentieth-century culture,11 is one of excess. The instinct of self-preservation should guide the historian to the restriction rather than extension of his body of sources. I will follow this strategy in the present book. This decision, however, should be preceded by identifying the potential classes of sources. The sources documenting the musical life and culture of the twentieth century will offer future generations an insight into different aspects that elude historians of earlier eras. For a historian of twentieth-century music (I am using that term conventionally, even though the meaning of “musical work” and even that of “music” is continuously evolving), a source is not only all that was created in the complex process of musical communication (primary sources) but also that contributed to the structure of social, economic and political conditions of that process’s participants (secondary sources). Sources will not only include the produce of direct relationships between the composer and performer or performer and listener, but also those between the composer and listener or audience. They will include not only strictly...

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