The Creative Process in Music from Mozart to Kurtag

The Creative Process in Music from Mozart to Kurtag

Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 248
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    The Creative Process in Music from Mozart to Kurtag
    Book Description:

    Great music arouses wonder: how did the composer create such an original work of art? What was the artist's inspiration, and how did that idea become a reality? Cultural products inevitably arise from a context, a submerged landscape that is often not easily accessible. To bring such things to light, studies of the creative process find their cutting edge by probing beyond the surface, opening new perspectives on the apparently familiar._x000B__x000B_In this intriguing study, William Kinderman opens the door to the composer's workshop, investigating not just the final outcome but the process of creative endeavor in music. Focusing on the stages of composition, Kinderman maintains that the most rigorous basis for the study of artistic creativity comes not from anecdotal or autobiographical reports, but from original handwritten sketches, drafts, revised manuscripts, and corrected proof sheets. He explores works of major composers from the eighteenth century to the present, from Mozart's piano music and Beethoven's Piano Trio in F to Kurtag's Kafka Fragments and Hommage à R. Sch. Other chapters examine Robert Schumann's Fantasie in C, Mahler's Fifth Symphony, and Bartók's Dance Suite._x000B__x000B_Kinderman's analysis takes the form of "genetic criticism," tracing the genesis of these cultural works, exploring their aesthetic meaning, and mapping the continuity of a central European tradition that has displayed remarkable vitality for over two centuries, as accumulated legacies assumed importance for later generations. Revealing the diversity of sources, rejected passages and movements, fragmentary unfinished works, and aborted projects that were absorbed into finished compositions, The Creative Process in Music from Mozart to Kurtag illustrates the wealth of insight that can be gained through studying the creative process. _x000B__x000B_

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09428-6
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations
  1. Front Matter (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction (pp. 1-16)

    Works of art have been compared to icebergs: what is visible is but a small part of the whole. An artwork might seem to exist in splendid isolation, but that impression is misleading. Cultural products inevitably arise from a context, a submerged landscape that is often not easily accessible. It is an undertaking of research to bring such things to light, and studies of the creative process find their cutting edge by probing beyond the surface, opening new perspectives on the apparently familiar.

    In the case of Beethoven, whose music has served as a locus classicus for studies of musical...

  5. 1 Mozart’s Second Thoughts (pp. 17-41)

    The popular image of Mozart’s music as having sprung into existence fully formed as the miraculous product of genius, as is conveyed in Peter Shaffer’s play Amadeus and in Milos Forman’s film of the same title, is seriously misleading. While Mozart did not make nearly as many sketches and drafts for his works in progress as did Beethoven, he nevertheless invested much labor in the compositional process, and he was by no means always satisfied with his initial attempts to work out compositions. Mozart not only composed in his head but tried out ideas at the keyboard and made written...

  6. 2 Beethoven’s Unfinished Piano Trio in F Minor from 1816 (pp. 42-76)

    The subject of this chapter is a piano trio that would have become one of Beethoven’s major chamber works had it been completed. On 1 October 1816 the composer wrote to publisher Robert Birchall in London concerning various publication arrangements (see Figs.2.1–2.2).¹ Beethoven opens the letter with the rather hopeful admonition that “you would not encrease the number of inglishmen neglecting their word and honor, as I had the misfortune of meeting with two of this sort.” He returns to the notion of “honor” in his closing paragraph, in which he entreats Birchall to “honor” him “as soon as...

  7. 3 Schumann, Beethoven, and the “Distant Beloved” (pp. 77-101)

    We turn now to a much-discussed composition by Robert Schumann, a piece that lies at the center of his innovative cluster of piano works from the 1830s and that was conceived in 1836 at the stressful nadir of his struggle for the hand of Clara Wieck, the brilliant young pianist who became his wife four years later. Perhaps no other work by Schumann underwent a more fascinating genesis. As originally conceived, the composition in question was an offering to Beethoven, who had died almost a decade earlier, in 1827. The call for a monument to Beethoven at his birthplace, Bonn,...

  8. 4 Aesthetics of Integration in Mahler’s Fifth Symphony (pp. 102-137)

    The intertwining of song and symphony so characteristic of Gustav Mahler’s Wunderhorn years did not end with his purely orchestral Fifth Symphony but assumed another form. Unlike the preceding three symphonies, which include both song quotations and texted movements, the Fifth Symphony contains no vocal setting; instead, an entire orchestral movement virtually stands in place of a song. The fourth of five movements, the Adagietto, bears a strong affinity to Mahler’s song on Friedrich Rückert’s poem “Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen” (I’ve become lost to the world).¹ Through its use in Luchino Visconti’s 1971 film Death in Venice (Morte...

  9. 5 Folklore Transformed in Bartók’s Dance Suite (pp. 138-162)

    In his book The World of Yesterday, Stefan Zweig looked back at the land of his youth and early manhood, the Austro-Hungarian monarchy of the pre–World War I era, as a “world of security” in which “everything had its form, its appropriate measure and weight.” Zweig observed further how

    In this vast realm, everything stood fixed and unmovable and in the highest position stood the aged Emperor; but should he die, one knew (or one expected) that another would come and that nothing would change in the well-designed framework. No one believed in wars, revolutions, or upheavals. Everything radical...

  10. PLATES (pp. None)
  11. 6 Kurtág’s Kafka Fragments and Hommage à R. Sch. (pp. 163-196)

    Like Franz Schubert’s Winterreisecycle, György Kurtág’s Kafka Fragments, op. 24 (1985–86), centers on the archetypal theme of wandering, the seeking of a path that remains profoundly elusive. Certain of the trenchant texts extracted by Kurtág from Kafka’s diaries and letters call into question or even deny the very existence of such a path, or Weg.¹ Yet for Kurtág as for Schubert, the need to keep searching for the elusive goal is inescapable, an existential necessity. So central is this theme that it dominates the entire second part of the four-part structure of the Kafka Fragments as well as numerous...

  12. Notes (pp. 197-224)
  13. Index (pp. 225-234)
  14. Back Matter (pp. 235-237)

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