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auseinandergerissene Hälften

Pace, I. ORCID: 0000-0002-0047-9379 (2018). auseinandergerissene Hälften *

Abstract

auseinandergerissene Hälften is a short work which nonetheless could be considered ‘mixed media’, to use the fashionable term, as it will consist playing as well as spoken and written text, and a small amount of theatre. The title comes from the notorious letter written by Theodor Adorno to Walter Benjamin on 18 March 1936, in the context of discussion of the latter’s ‘Das Kunstwerk im Zeitalter seiner technischen Reproduzierbarkeit’, first written the previous year. Adorno wrote to Benjamin on the subject of the dialectics of ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture: ‘Beide tragen die Wundmale des Kapitalismus, beide enthalten Elemente der Veränderung (freilich nie und nimmer das Mittlere zwischen Schönberg und dem amerikanischen Film); beide sind die auseinandergerissenen Hälften der ganzen Freiheit, die doch aus ihnen nicht sich zusammenaddieren läßt’ (‘Both bear the stigmata of capitalism, both contain elements of change (but never, of course, simply as a middle-term between Schönberg and the American film). Both are torn halves of an integral freedom, to which, however, they do not add up’). My starting point for this piece is both this conception of the ‘torn halves’ of cultural freedom, but also my own ‘torn halves’, as both a pianist and a musicologist intensely engaged with the conflicting demands of both activities. In the latter context, I return to the high/low culture question as it has informed my teaching of a former core module in music history. This attempted to navigate fairly between this ‘torn halves’ and their continuous co-presence, sometimes interacting, sometimes antagonistic, in Western musical history since 1848. For this piece I have drawn upon the materials I used there to create a series of interconnected musical vignettes, each of which draw upon different species of music from a series of dates (including 1936, the date of Adorno’s letter to Benjamin). All of these are heavily modified, viewed from a contemporary perspective, but I attempt, inevitably unsuccessfully, to make them ‘add up’. The music is accompanied by slides with disembodied fragments from the lecture slides from the aforementioned module, together with passages extracted from modernist texts from the periods in question, and material from social media (a low culture of today in contrast to the supposedly elevated world of the lecture).

Publication Type: Composition
Additional Information: © Ian Pace, 2018. This score contains pieces 1-3, and the associated slides. Pieces 4-6 will be added to this record when completed.
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Departments: School of Arts & Social Sciences > Music
Date Deposited: 04 Jun 2019 09:13
URI: https://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/22295
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