Modernity is also the sense of being too early. A self-conscious searching for the new is exhibited by music from Caccini’s Le nuove musiche (1602) to the avant-garde. Beethoven’s sonata forms articulate the sense of future-oriented time that followed the French Revolution and was manifest everywhere from the speed of the new railways to industrialized capitalism. The idea of time in flight, built into the Baroque fugue, finds expression in forms that threaten to fall apart. But it is in tonality itself that the desire of modern subjectivity finds its most powerful musical expression, from Monteverdi to Schoenberg. In extreme form the urgency of sensual desire becomes self-annihilating as music becomes a key site for utopian longing and the moment of suddenness in which the world might be definitively transformed (from Bach’s Matthew Passion to Janáček’s Makropulos Case).
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