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Out of TimeMusic and the Making of Modernity$
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Julian Johnson

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780190233273

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190233273.001.0001

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The Precarious Present

The Precarious Present

(p.82) Chapter 3 The Precarious Present
Out of Time

Julian Johnson

Oxford University Press

Between the weight of history and the rush towards the future, the present becomes increasingly fragile. The simultaneity of different temporalities is heard from the madrigal to Mahler symphonies; Berlioz and Rossini anticipate Baudelaire’s formulation of modernity as both fleeting and immovable. The bifurcation of time was exacerbated by the development of technologies of transport on the one hand, and discoveries in astronomy and natural science on the other. Boredom was one response, for which music was an antidote (Offenbach). A fascination with clocks and other machines highlights the gap between organic and mechanical time (from Haydn to Ligeti). From ‘moments musicaux’ to the craze for waltzes and galops associated with railways, music intensified the ephemeral present. But all this took place against a growing historicism, evident equally in summative histories and collected editions as in the Neoclassical turn of the twentieth century.

Keywords:   simultaneity, Berlioz, astronomy, boredom, Offenbach, waltz, railways, historicism, Neoclassicism

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