Chapter

Beethoven Antihero

Andrew Dell'Antonio

in Beyond Structural Listening?

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2004 | ISBN: 9780520237575
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520937024 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520237575.003.0005
Beethoven Antihero

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This chapter looks at Susan McClary's comparison of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony to a failed rape. The chapter recontextualizes McClary by linking her to a hermeneutic tradition of sublimating description that predates high-modernist formalism. The rape image presented by her, when read with full attention to its kinesthetic specificity, encodes the complex and postmodern relation to form with aphoristic brutality. The rape described by McClary is a failure where her antihero is unable to attain release and this argument is used as a key formal insight into Beethoven's aesthetics of failure. THe chapter also discusses how identifying the moment of recapitulation as a failed rape turns out to be powerful analytical key instead of a distraction from form or a deviation into dodgy politics.

Keywords: Susan McClary; Beethoven's Ninth Symphony; hermeneutic tradition; high-modernist formalism

Chapter.  19463 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Music Theory and Analysis

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