What does it mean to think of Western Art music - and the Austro-German contribution to that repertory - as a tradition? How are men and masculinities implicated in the shaping of that tradition? And how is the writing of the history (or histories) of that tradition shaped by men and masculinities? This book seeks to answer these and other questions by drawing both on a wide range of German-language writings on music, sound and listening from the so-called long nineteenth century (circa 1800-1918), and a range of critical-theoretical texts from the post-war continental philosophical and psychoanalytic traditions, including Lacan, Zizek, Serres, Derrida and Kittler. The book is focussed in particular on bringing the object of historical writing itself into scrutiny by engaging in what Zizek has called a 'historicity' or a way of writing about the past that not merely acknowledges the ahistorical kernel of historical writing, but brings that kernel into the light of day, takes account of it and puts it into play. The book is thus committed to a kind of historical writing that is open-ended - though not ideologically naÃ¯ve - and that does not fix or stabilize the nature of the relationship between so-called 'primary' and 'secondary' texts. The book consists of an introduction, which places the study of classical music and the Austro-German tradition within broader debates about the value of that tradition, and four extensive case studies: an analysis of the cultural-historical category of listening around 1800; a close reading of A. B. Marx's Beethoven monograph of 1859; a consideration of Heinrich Schenker's attitudes to the mob and the vernacular more broadly and an examination, through Franz Kafka, of the figure of Mahler's body.
Ian Biddle is Senior Lecturer and Head of Postgraduate Studies in Music at Newcastle University, UK. He is a cultural theorist and musicologist, working on a range of topics in music and sound-related areas. His work ranges from the cultural history of music and masculinity, music in the Holocaust, theorising music's intervention in communities and subjectivities, sound, soundscapes and urban experience, and the politics of noise. He has interests in memory studies, sound studies, Italian workerist and autonomist theory, psychoanalysis and theoretical approaches to 'affective' states. He is co-founder and co-ordinating editor (with Richard Middleton) of the journal Radical Musicology.
'In significant ways like a love letter to a complicated lover, this book displays both its commitment to and critique of the nineteenth-century German repertoire. I am certain that this will become one of the most cited and read books in the field. Ian Biddle makes a substantial contribution to the literature on gender in general, and masculinity in particular - an excellent piece of scholarship.' Anahid Kassabian, University of Liverpool, UK ’By re-examining the musical works as well as musical writings and analyses, Biddle succeeds in broadening the concepts of Romantic musical discourse and makes readers consider the positioning of works like Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde in music history.’ Choice '... energetic and thought-provoking...' Music and Letters