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Rethinking Schubert$
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Lorraine Byrne Bodley and Julian Horton

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190200107

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190200107.001.0001

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Disability, Self-Critique and Failure in Schubert’s ‘Der Doppelgänger’

Disability, Self-Critique and Failure in Schubert’s ‘Der Doppelgänger’

(p.418) 20 Disability, Self-Critique and Failure in Schubert’s ‘Der Doppelgänger’
Rethinking Schubert

Benjamin Binder

Oxford University Press

One commonly acknowledged indicator of ‘late style’ in music is self-critique. At the end of a long career, a composer subjects his or her musical language to a rigorous deconstructive analysis, exposing its fundamental premises in order to reassess its expressive validity. In 2008, however, Joseph Straus suggested that ‘late-style’ musical features are often more fruitfully interpreted as inscriptions of a composer's physical or mental disability. Speaking of a retrospective, self-critical ‘late style’ in Schubert’s case is potentially problematic, since he was only thirty-one when he died. But there is general consensus that Schubert’s experience of his fatal illness (and the limitations it placed upon him) left traces in his music. This chapter offers a reading of Schubert’s ‘Der Doppelgänger’ as a ‘late’ work in both respects. Schubert’s artistic response to disability in this song takes the form of a reflective self-critique.

Keywords:   theories of late style, Adorno, Joseph Straus, Schubert’s text setting, ‘Der Doppelgänger’, Disability

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