The Conservative Tradition

Nicholas Cook

in The Schenker Project

Published in print October 2007 | ISBN: 9780195170566
Published online September 2008 | e-ISBN: 9780199871216 | DOI:
The Conservative Tradition

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Schenker's sometimes virulently conservative politics have been a major problem for later commentators, who have sought to minimize their relevance to his theory. Taking as its starting point his essay “The mission of German genius” (1921), this chapter argues that while prompted by the experience of the First World War, Schenker's politics expressed an underlying cultural conservatism, with roots in the previous century, that is fundamental to his work. In early 20th-century Vienna, the collision between this conservative tradition and processes of modernization resulted in a perniciously binary pattern of thought that is reflected in Schenker's writings, but also prompted a desire for reconciliation heavily coloured by nostalgia. Both the desire and the nostalgia — which are shared with such disparate contemporaries as the piano manufacturer Ludwig Bösendorfer and T. W. Adorno — are central to Schenker's project, for which music is understood as always imbued with social meaning.

Keywords: politics; conservatism; nostalgia; social meaning; Ludwig Bösendorfer; T. W. Adorno

Chapter.  28113 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ethnomusicology

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