January 2022

The Musical Symptoms of Modernism

Listed in: European Studies, as EUST-223  |  Music, as MUSI-223

Formerly listed as: MUSI-23


Klara Moricz (Section 01J)


(Offered as MUSI 223 and EUST 223) Two World Wars, the Holocaust, the Cold War, and the dropping of the atomic bomb were cataclysmic events that made the twentieth century one of the most traumatizing time periods in human history. And yet music did not fall silent. Composers continued writing music, giving aural expression to symptoms characteristic of the condition of modernism. How did Richard Strauss's opera Salome about a necrophiliac princess lusting for a severed head become one of the most successful operas in Europe? Why did Stalin alternately persecute and reward the Soviet Union's most talented composer, Dmitri Shostakovich? Why did composers insist on writing unlistenable, incomprehensibly complex music after World War II? Listening to a wide variety of music from Mahler to Kaija Saariaho, reading historical documents and other relevant essays, we'll explore symptoms of modernism and how composers and their music interacted with their culture milieu and historical context. Assignments will include regular listening, periodic short papers, and a culminating project.

This course will be taught in person. 

Requisite: MUSI 111 or 112, or consent of the instructor. January semester. Professor Moricz.


Artistic Practice, Fine Arts for Non-majors


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2011, Fall 2013, Fall 2015, Spring 2018, Fall 2019, January 2022, Spring 2022