A Music of One's Own

Judith A. Peraino

in Listening to the Sirens

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2005 | ISBN: 9780520215870
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520921740 | DOI:
A Music of One's Own

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Knowledge of the “truth of God” can only be achieved through a process of thorough self- examination that leads to self: regulation of sexuality. But equally important to sexual discipline in the production of truth and subjectivity is the discipline of disclosure. This chapter explores how the notion of confession applies to music; that is, how music can function as disclosure and as discipline. The primary focus is on the post-Freudian cultural climate, in which Christian confession was secularized through psychoanalysis. At nearly the same point in time in the late nineteenth century, the medical category of the “homosexual” emerged. Two composers, Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky and Benjamin Britten, provide case studies for the role of musical disclosure and discipline in the modern homosexual subject. The finale of Tchaikovsky's Sixth Symphony offers an exemplar of presumed sexual sublimation and confession, while Britten's compositions Billy Budd and Abraham and Isaac together disclose a methodical exploration of the ethics and erotics of self-discipline.

Keywords: music; sexual sublimation; sexual confession; Christian confession; self-discipline

Chapter.  15733 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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