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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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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 20 October 2019

Prelude

Prelude

LʼOrfeo, or the Anxiety of the Moderns

Chapter:
(p.19) Prelude
Source:
Bach's Cycle, Mozart's Arrow
Author(s):

Karol Berger

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520250918.003.0002

The shift in the fundamental attitudes toward musical time did not occur suddenly within the few decades separating the two composers Bach and Mozart. Rather, both shifts extended over several centuries. This chapter offers an interpretation of Monteverdi's L'Orfeo, a work that captures conflicting attitudes toward an early stage of emerging modernity. L'Orfeo was a vote of confidence for musical modernity. However, it was a half-hearted sort of confidence, affirming the values of modern harmony only as a consolation prize for the early modern subject defeated in his quest for autonomy. Almost two centuries had to pass for modern self-confidence to grow sufficiently to allow us to imagine a successful quest for autonomy, an Orpheus who triumphs in life, as in Mozart's The Magic Flute, rather than in death.

Keywords:   Bach, Mozart, L'Orfeo, Monteverdi, musical modernity, Magic Flute, Orpheus

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