Eros and Orientalism In Britten's Operas

Philip Brett

in Music and Sexuality in Britten

Published by University of California Press

Published in print November 2006 | ISBN: 9780520246096
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520939127 | DOI:
Eros and Orientalism In Britten's Operas

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This chapter represents a reverse project in that, instead of deconstructing Western narrative to understand oriental culture, it deconstructs the same to understand Western culture itself. Needless to say, its approach charts the musical narratives pertaining to depiction of the oriental. Edward Said asserted that orientalism is an exclusively male domain and one of sexuality. Nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century music is deeply implicated in the general Eurocentric perception of the Orient, particularly in France and Britain, the countries Said points to as having the longest tradition of orientalism. The revelation of the extent of Britten's engagement with Asian music was important, if only because it also revealed the parochialism of those critics who, in a curious evocation of an essentially imperialist vision of London as center of a Eurocentric world, saw Britten as having cut himself off in his later years, to the detriment of his musical development.

Keywords: orientalism; Edward Said; Eurocentric Asian music; musical development; parochial

Chapter.  8334 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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