Debussy's Critics: Sound, Affect, and the Experience of Modernism

ISBN : 9780190847241

Alexandra Kieffer
324 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Jun 2019
Send mail

Debussy's Critics: Sound, Affect, and the Experience of Modernism explores the music of Claude Debussy and its early reception in light of the rise of the empirical human sciences in Western Europe around the turn of the twentieth century. In the midst of a sea change in conceptions of the human person, the critics who wrote about Debussy's music in the Parisian press-continually returning to this music's nebulous relationship to sensation and sensibilite-attempted to articulate a music aesthetic appropriate to the fully embodied, material self of psychological modernism. While scholarship on French music in this period has often emphasized its affinities with other art forms, such as Impressionist painting and Symbolist poetry, Debussy's Critics demonstrates that a preoccupation with the specifically sonic materiality of Debussy's music, informed by late nineteenth-century scientific discourses on affect, perception, and cognition, was central to this music's historical intervention. Foregrounding the dynamic exchange between sounds and ideas, this book reveals the disorienting and bewildering experience of listening to Debussy's music, which compelled its early audiences to reimagine the most fundamental premises of the European art-music tradition.


Chapter 1: Wagnerisme and the Aesthetic of Sentiment
Chapter 2: Pelleas et Melisande and the Aesthetic of Sensation
Chapter 3: Marnold: Music as Epistemology
Chapter 4: Laloy: Music as Truth
Chapter 5: Rewriting Modernism

About the author: 

Alexandra Kieffer is Assistant Professor of Musicology at Rice University. She received her Ph.D. from Yale University in 2014 and spent the 2014-2015 academic year as an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities at Stanford University. Her work explores intersections between musical culture and physiologies of affect, listening, and sensation in Belle Epoque France.

The price listed on this page is the recommended retail price for Japan. When a discount is applied, the discounted price is indicated as “Discount price”. Prices are subject to change without notice.