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Music Research Seminar



Room AG09, College Building, St John's Street London EC1V 0HB

Naomi Waltham-Smith: 'All Work and No Play'

Ian Pace: The Beginnings of the New Music Infrastructure in the Western Zones of Post-War Germany: The First Year, 1945-1946


Naomi Waltham-Smith: 'All Work and No Play'

The traditional conception of musical creativity that crystallized in early German Romanticism and that persists in musicological discourse today rests upon the idea of creative work or labour. This paper puts forward two alternative theories of musical creativity that seek to dispense with this presupposition and, with it, its politico-ethical consequences. After exploring the possibility of musical production as spontaneous decisive action, I draw upon the concept of désœuvrement in recent French philosophy to speculate about what musical creativity might look like if it were to emancipate itself entirely from the sphere of production and instead present itself as pure idleness. I illustrate my argument with reference to examples drawn from Mozart's piano and chamber works whose formal tendencies cut across the emergent aesthetics of creativity.

Ian Pace: The Beginnings of the New Music Infrastructure in the Western Zones of Post-War Germany: The First Year, 1945-1946
Contemporary Germany lies at the heart of the infrastructure for contemporary classical music in Europe, supported by a large and diverse network of festivals, radio stations, concert series and teaching. Yet relatively little is known about how this infrastructure came into being; existing studies have tended to concentrate almost exclusively on the Musica Viva concert series which began in Munich in October 1945, the first Internationale Ferienkurse für Musik at Darmstadt in August 1946, and the re-establishment of the Donaueschinger Musiktage in July 1946 (which had last taken place in 1939). Drawing upon a wide range of archival materials relating to the cultural authorities of the American, British and French occupying powers, and from numerous town, state, radio and other archives, I trace the rapid development of a wider range of related institutions and events - in Munich, Überlingen, Berlin, Konstanz, Bad Nauheim, Donaueschingen and Tübingen, culminating in the first Darmstadt Ferienkurse, as well as the individuals responsible for making such events happen here and in the newly founded radio stations. In opposition to currently fashionable theories maintaining that the growth of New Music in post-war Germany constituted primarily an American-initiated negative response to Soviet Bloc socialist realism, I look briefly at the more nuanced relationship in particular between the French and American authorities and the musical institutions which resulted, and suggest that the seeds of later 'new music' were sown in this first year.

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When and where

5.00pm - 7.00pmWednesday 11th May 2011

College Building City, University of London St John Street London EC1V 4PB UK