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Beyond Structural Listening?Postmodern Modes of Hearing$
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Andrew Dell'Antonio

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780520237575

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520237575.001.0001

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Beethoven Antihero

Beethoven Antihero

Sex, Violence, and the Aesthetics of Failure, or Listening to the Ninth Symphony as Postmodern Sublime

(p.109) Four Beethoven Antihero
Beyond Structural Listening?

Andrew Dell'Antonio

University of California Press

This chapter looks at Susan McClary's comparison of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony to a failed rape. The chapter recontextualizes McClary by linking her to a hermeneutic tradition of sublimating description that predates high-modernist formalism. The rape image presented by her, when read with full attention to its kinesthetic specificity, encodes the complex and postmodern relation to form with aphoristic brutality. The rape described by McClary is a failure where her antihero is unable to attain release and this argument is used as a key formal insight into Beethoven's aesthetics of failure. THe chapter also discusses how identifying the moment of recapitulation as a failed rape turns out to be powerful analytical key instead of a distraction from form or a deviation into dodgy politics.

Keywords:   Susan McClary, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, hermeneutic tradition, high-modernist formalism

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