The Politics of Assimilation

Nicholas Cook

in The Schenker Project

Published in print October 2007 | ISBN: 9780195170566
Published online September 2008 | e-ISBN: 9780199871216 | DOI:
The Politics of Assimilation

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A Galician Jew who came to Vienna on a government scholarship, Schenker arrived just as a fully racial anti-semitism was developing; the binary pattern of thought discussed in Chapter 3 became most pernicious when linked to the binary opposition Jew/not Jew. True to the tradition of German cultural conservatism, Schenker constructed his identity through an extreme appropriation of high German culture, while at the same time maintaining his personal adherence to the Jewish tradition. Though attempts to explain Schenker's theory in terms of that tradition are ultimately unconvincing, his situation in an increasingly anti-semitic society explains much about the motivation of Schenker's project and the way it developed. These issues of culture and race are drawn out through comparisons with two of the principal Others of Schenker's cultural and intellectual universe: Richard Wagner, to whom Schenker's entire project can be understood as a response, and Arnold Schoenberg.

Keywords: culture; race; anti-semitism; Jewish tradition; Richard Wagner; Arnold Schoenberg

Chapter.  22473 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ethnomusicology

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