Back to Whom?

Richard Taruskin

in The Danger of Music and Other Anti-Utopian Essays

Published by University of California Press

Published in print December 2008 | ISBN: 9780520249776
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520942790 | DOI:
Back to Whom?

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This chapter appraises the origins, the styles, and the ideologies related to neoclassicism in music. Retrospectivism and stylistic allusion—in particular, pastiche or parody of eighteenth-century styles and forms—are indeed the features by which twentieth-century neoclassicism in music is generally identified. The origins of neoclassicism are usually located in the disruptions of World War I. Writers hostile to it have often attempted to write it off as a warbred hysteria, of which the chief outward manifestation, to quote its fiercest antagonist, was “retrogression into the traditional.” Some recent studies have attempted to reconstruct the historical contexts and circumstances out of which the neoclassicizing impulse emerged. The importance of this work lies not only in its contribution to the factual elucidation of the subject but also in its potential for dismantling many of the false premises on which the historiography of twentieth-century music has long been resting.

Keywords: retrospectivism; stylistic allusion; art music; retrospective classicism; eighteenth-century music; modernism

Chapter.  11512 words. 

Subjects: Music Theory and Analysis

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