We are going to take a piece of music (Charles Ives’ The Unanswered Question) and look at how Bernstein and Adorno used it as a means to delve deeply into these questions regarding the meaning of crisis and the expression of social transformation. As a preliminary to that discussion, in part one we are going to review a few examples of the varieties of expression and experiences of Bernstein’s « crisis of ambiguity ». Can music be expressive of a time and place, and if so, what is the meaning of these expressions? Is Pierre Boulez correct when he says that: “An idea does not exist until we realize how it may be used. In musical terms, there is no such thing as an idea in itself, it is a reaction to our whole cultural environment. » – Pierre Boulez. “Idea, Realization, Craft.” Music Lessons: Lectures at the College de France.
This recording was prepared for the course SS.235, Sociology of Music/Sound/Noise, Department of Social Science & Culture Studies, Pratt Institute. Spring 2020. Additional materials are available on the course LMS site.
Part Two of this lecture can be found via any of these links:
Part Three of this lecture can be found via any of these links:
Adorno, Theodor. 1973. Philosophy of Modern Music. New York, Seabury Press.
Bernstein, Leonard. The Unanswered Question, part 5: The XXth Century Crisis (lecture and performance).
Bernstein, Leonard. The Unanswered Question, part 6: The Poetry of the Earth (lecture and performance).
Boulez, Pierre. 2019. “Idea, Realization, Craft.” Music Lessons: Lectures at the College de France. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Cage, John. 4’ 33” (A performance by William Marx.)
Chomsky, Noam. 1975. Aspects of the Theory of Syntax. Cambridge: MIT Press.
Ellison, Ralph. 2002. “A Snow of Blizzard Proportions” from Flying Home and Other Stories. Modern Library.
Horkheimer, Max. 1947. “The Revolt of Nature” from The Eclipse Of Reason. New York: Continuum.
Ives, Charles E. 1908. The Unanswered Question: For Chamber Orchestra (performable also as Chamber Music). New York: Southern Music Publishing.
Joyce, James. 1946. “The Dead” from Dubliners.
Luxmburg, Rosa. 1913-15. The Accumulation of Capital and the Anti-Critique. New York, Monthly Review Press.
Marx, Karl and Fredreich Engels. 1846. The German Ideology. https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1845/german-ideology/
Norris, Frank. 1901. The Octopus: A Story of California.
And for fun, as one in the original graphic novels series:
Satie, Erik. Douze Petits Chorals (1906-1908) – XII. Choral No 12.
12 Petits chorales: No. 12, Grave. Christiane Oelze, soprano — Eric Schneider, piano.
Webern, Anton. 4 Lieder nach Gedichten von S. George (1908-9). Christiane Oelze and Eric Schneider. Boulez conducts.
1. “Erwachen aus dem tiefsten traumes-schooße”
2. Kunfttag I
3. Trauer I
4. Das lockere saatgefilde lechzet krank
Webern, Anton. Symphony Op. 21. 1927-28. Berliner Philharmoniker with Pierre Boulez, conducting.
Williams, Raymond. 1961. The Long Revolution. Braodview Press.
Andreyev, Samuel. The Unanswered Question: Analysis.
Anton von Webern, explained in 10 minutes.
Anton von Webern’s Drei Lieder, Op. 18: Analysis.
Anton Webern’s Zwei Lieder, Op. 19: Analysis.