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Biography and the New Musicology

Wiley, C (2010) Biography and the New Musicology In: (Auto)Biography as a Musicological Discourse. Musicological Studies, 3 . Fakultet muzičke umetnosti / Belgrade : University of Arts, Department of Musicology, Belgrade, pp. 3-27. ISBN 8660510275

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Traditional musicology has long resisted biographical interpretations in favor of formalistic approaches. While the so-called “New Musicology” has more recently redressed this imbalance by encouraging the contextualization of music, including critical studies that take account of issues of biography in relation to musical works, the ideologies of musical biography themselves have remained largely unexplored. In consequence, the modern discipline may have unwittingly absorbed wholesale many of the tendencies that accumulated within the genre in the course of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The many fascinating scholarly studies of musical biography to have recently appeared offer little assistance in this respect, for they primarily scrutinize the assumptions that historically underpinned the genre without giving due consideration to their lingering existence within current musicology. This essay surveys of some of the most fascinating biographical readings that have appeared in recent years in order to demonstrate that debates such as those over Schubert’s sexuality and Shostakovich’s relationship with the Soviet regime, as well as various other hermeneutical studies conducted in relation to aspects of composers’ lives, have a wider grounding within musical biography’s historical preoccupations than has hitherto been recognized. I show the continuing presence in modern musicology of the phenomenon by which attempts to redress a past biographical misconception merely re-inscribe a new one in place of the old, and argue that the current climate of epistemic inclusivity is such that consideration of the extent to which a given study may be a reflection of its author is now more important than ever. By way of conclusion, I advocate the future cultivation of a more self-reflexive approach in biographical scholarship within musicology, one that knowingly takes into account the relationship between different composer biographies rather than merely focusing on that of a single figure in isolation.

Item Type: Book Section
Divisions : Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences > School of Arts > Music
Authors :
Date : 2010
Uncontrolled Keywords : music, musical biography, New Musicology
Related URLs :
Additional Information : This is an electronic version of a book chapter published as Wiley C. (2010). Biography and the New Musicology In (Auto)Biography as a Musicological Discourse. Editors: Marković T, Mikic V. 3: 3-27. Fakultet muzičke umetnosti / Belgrade : University of Arts, Department of Musicology, Belgrade. ISBN 9788660510275
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 09 Dec 2013 12:59
Last Modified : 09 Jun 2014 13:50

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