Composing the Canon in the German Democratic Republic: Narratives of Nineteenth-Century Music

ISBN : 9780199998098

Elaine Kelly
264 Pages
163 x 240 mm
Pub date
Oct 2014
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When the German Democratic Republic (GDR) was founded in 1949, its leaders did not position it as a new state. Instead, they represented East German socialism as the culmination of all that was positive in Germany's past. The GDR was heralded as the second German Enlightenment, a society in which the rational ideals of progress, Bildung, and revolution that had first come to fruition with Goethe and Beethoven would finally achieve their apotheosis. Central to this founding myth was the Germanic musical heritage. Just as the canon had defined the idea of the German nation in the nineteenth-century, so in the GDR it contributed to the act of imagining the collective socialist state. Composing the Canon in the German Democratic Republic uses the reception of the Germanic musical heritage to chart the changing landscape of musical culture in the German Democratic Republic. Author Elaine Kelly demonstrates the nuances of musical thought in the state, revealing a model of societal ascent and decline that has implications that reach far beyond studies of the GDR itself. The first book-length study in English devoted to music in the GDR, Composing the Canon in the German Democratic Republic is a seminal text for scholars of music in the Cold War and in Germany more widely.


Table of Contents
List of Abbreviations
Introduction: Bourgeois Pasts and Socialist Futures
Part 1: Constructing the Canon
Chapter 1: Writing the Nation
Chapter 2: A Case of Wagner
Part 2: Critiquing the Canon
Chapter 3: Late Beethoven and Late Socialism
Chapter 4: The Romantic Revival and the Search for Utopia
Chapter 5: Staging Late Socialism: Ruth Berghaus and the German Opera Tradition
Epilogue: Art After Socialism

About the author: 

Elaine Kelly is Senior Lecturer in Music at the University of Edinburgh. She is co-editor, together with Amy Wlodarski, of Art outside the Lines: New Perspectives on GDR Art Culture (2013). Her research has been published in journals such as 19th-Century Music, Music & Letters, and Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History.

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