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The Danger of Music and Other Anti-Utopian Essays$
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Richard Taruskin

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780520249776

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520249776.001.0001

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The Poietic Fallacy

The Poietic Fallacy

(p.301) 36 The Poietic Fallacy
The Danger of Music and Other Anti-Utopian Essays

Richard Taruskin

University of California Press

This chapter focuses on the music career of the composer Arnold Schoenberg and the book Arnold Schoenberg's Journey by Allen Shawn. The music of Schoenberg has been influential and controversial out of all proportion to the frequency with which it has ever been performed or otherwise disseminates. The din surrounding the name of this composer has always threatened to drown his music out. Allen Shawn, a composer on the faculty of Bennington College, wants to rescue the music from the din through his book. In his book Shawn opposes the poietic fallacy—the conviction that what matters most in a work of art is the making of it, the maker's input. He constantly emphasizes listener response as a measure of Schoenberg's value, and constantly implies that that response should not be mediated by “theories,” Schoenberg's or anyone else's. Many of Schoenberg's most painful works such as Erwartung, make their first appeal on a visceral, humane level.

Keywords:   Arnold Schoenberg, Allen Shawn, Arnold Schoenberg's Journey, poietic fallacy, Erwartung

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