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Bach's Cycle, Mozart's ArrowAn Essay on the Origins of Musical Modernity$
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Karol Berger

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780520250918

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520250918.001.0001

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Die Zauberflöte, or the Self-Assertion of the Moderns

Die Zauberflöte, or the Self-Assertion of the Moderns

(p.280) 7 Die Zauberflöte, or the Self-Assertion of the Moderns
Bach's Cycle, Mozart's Arrow

Karol Berger

University of California Press

This chapter discusses The Magic Flute, a work that probes modernity's democratic, communitarian aspirations. The subject of The Magic Flute is the revolution in values that occurred when the old regime, in which power was in the hands of the old, was replaced by a new order, in which the young were able to make their own autonomous choices. It is about the passing of mercy and the arrival of autonomy, and is also the work in which modern instrumental music acquires its own foundation myth. The abstract, autonomous subject of modern politics, no longer a mere “prince” but a universal “man,” finds his own medium in the new, abstract, autonomous art. Beethoven later took up the fundamental structure of this myth in a number of works, Fidelio and the Ninth Symphony among them.

Keywords:   Magic Flute, autonomy, modern instrumental music, modern politics, Ninth Symphony, Beethoven

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