The Operatic Roots of Gestus in ‘The Mother’ and ‘Round Heads and Pointed Heads’

Joy H. Calico

in Brecht at the Opera

Published by University of California Press

Published in print August 2008 | ISBN: 9780520254824
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520942813 | DOI:
The Operatic Roots of Gestus in ‘The Mother’ and ‘Round Heads and Pointed Heads’

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The 1930s brought a fundamental shift in Brecht's life, as the familiarity of Weimar-era Berlin declined into the uncertainty of exile. This shift precipitated change in every area of his work: in primary musical collaborators, from Kurt Weill to Hanns Eisler; in generic concentration, from Lehrstück and opera to plays designed for audiences; in audiences, from like-minded thinkers to uninformed, passive spectators; and in performers, from the politically astute amateur to the traditionally trained professional. The direct link Brecht identified between music and gesture in the mid-1930s is reminiscent of the standard operatic stage practice known as mimesis. Brecht's theory and his implementation of it changed with and responded to his circumstances. His writings in this period belong to a particular historical moment and this historical moment is significant for the development of the notion of gestus.

Keywords: Brecht; gestus; The Mother; gesture; mimesis

Chapter.  13140 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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