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Revealing MasksExotic Influences and Ritualized Performance in Modernist Music Theater$
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W. Anthony Sheppard

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780520223028

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520223028.001.0001

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Partch's Vision of “Integrated Corporeal Theater” and “Latter-Day Rituals”

Partch's Vision of “Integrated Corporeal Theater” and “Latter-Day Rituals”

(p.180) 12 Partch's Vision of “Integrated Corporeal Theater” and “Latter-Day Rituals”
Revealing Masks

W. Anthony Sheppard

University of California Press

More than any other figure considered here, Harry Partch consistently and rigorously explored the possibilities of a genuine Gesamtkunstwerk. Moreover, his entire musical and theatrical outlook was profoundly influenced by both ancient Greek and East Asian models, and by primitivist and Orientalist fantasies. Finally, his ritualistic works were intended to have a direct spiritual effect on their audiences and to render social change. Despite Partch's warning that it “is not only difficult to define my theater concepts as a whole—it is impossible,” this chapter attempts to provide a sketch of these concepts, relying heavily on his own attempts to describe them. Partch's writings and correspondence provide a rich source of information documenting an evolving vision of totally integrated theater.

Keywords:   Harry Partch, ancient Greek, East Asia, Orientalist fantasies, theater concepts, music theater

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