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Teaching New Classicality

Ferruccio Busoni's Master Class in Composition


Tamara Levitz

Ferruccio Busoni's master class in composition in Berlin from 1921 to 1924 has long been a neglected aspect of Busoni research. This study fills that lacuna by reconstructing the master class and Busoni's teachings of New Classicality on the basis of extensive archival research. Unpublished correspondence, writings, musical manuscripts, governmental records, and diaries, as well as the stories told by surviving students served as primary sources in establishing the cultural, political, and economic context of the master class, examining its educational content, and evaluating Busoni's relationships with and possible influence on students such as Kurt Weill and Wladimir Vogel. The resulting story offers new light on a vital aspect of cultural life in Berlin during the early Weimar Republic.
Contents: Musical Life in Berlin around 1920 - The Politicisation of Music in the Early Weimar Republic - The Role of Leo Kestenberg - The Teachings of New Classicality - Kurt Weill - Wladimir Vogel - The Objective Setting of Texts - Busoni's Personal and Professional Crisis - Swiss Students in Berlin: Robert Blum, Luc Balmer, and Walther Geiser - The Classical Goal: Opera - The Role of Piano Performance in the Master Class - Busoni's Final Illness - Consequences of the Master Class.