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Absolute MusicThe History of an Idea$
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Mark Evan Bonds

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199343638

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199343638.001.0001

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Epilogue: Since 1945

Epilogue: Since 1945

Chapter:
(p.297) Epilogue: Since 1945
Source:
Absolute Music
Author(s):

Mark Evan Bonds

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199343638.003.0015

The idea of absolute music became so central to Western aesthetics after World War II that its development from that point onward cannot be traced apart from the broader sweep of musical aesthetics in general. Both as a repertory and as a philosophical concept, it enjoyed its greatest prestige in the period between roughly 1945 and 1970. Its abstract nature appealed to composers and audiences who had lived through a period when music and all the arts had been co-opted by national, social, and political ideologies to an unprecedented degree. Partly in response to this, Western artists actively promoted an approach to music that favored material autonomy, which was the surest guarantor of ethical autonomy. The Soviet Union’s repeated denunciations of art for art’s sake helped make the aesthetics of absolute music all the more attractive in the West. Eastern bloc regimes, echoing Wagner, denounced as “formalist” any art that was not socially engaged. Nikita Krushchev, for one, attacked serial composition publicly on more than one occasion....

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