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Lateness and BrahmsMusic and Culture in the Twilight of Viennese Liberalism$
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Margaret Notley

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195305470

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195305470.001.0001

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BRAHMS AND THE PROBLEM OF LATE STYLE

BRAHMS AND THE PROBLEM OF LATE STYLE

Chapter:
(p.36) CHAPTER 2 BRAHMS AND THE PROBLEM OF LATE STYLE
Source:
Lateness and Brahms
Author(s):

Margaret Notley

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195305470.003.0003

Acknowledging both the general aging of music that Adorno heard in Brahms and observations that most of his oeuvre sounds “twilit”, this chapter asserts “late style” as nonetheless meaningful. Rejecting cause and effect, it draws on Freud's concept of overdetermination to address the emergence of late-style features and proposes an addendum to late-style dialectics: late works are at once an expression of their time and alienated from the contemporary context. The significance of German nationalism to works from the mid-1880s and others from the 1890s is explored, as is the politicization of “late style”. Rather than simplifying late style, the chapter uses diverse manifestations — e.g., mannerism, blending of technical and expressive features — as hermeneutic points of entry. Special emphasis is placed on Brahms's mastery of ways and degrees of asserting a key in tonality's late period, and on moments of expressive complexity that model psychological process, evoking Freud's Vienna.

Keywords:   Adorno, chamber music, Freud, German nationalism, hermeneutic, late style, mannerism, tonality, Vienna

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