Situated at the intersections of twentieth-century music history, historiography, and aesthetics, Middlebrow Modernism uses Benjamin Britten’s operas to illustrate the ways in which composers, critics, and audiences mediated the “great divide” between modernism and mass culture. Reviving mid-century discussions of the middlebrow, Christopher Chowrimootoo demonstrates how Britten’s works allowed audiences to have their modernist cake and eat it: to revel in the pleasures of consonance, lyricism, and theatrical spectacle even while enjoying the prestige that came from rejecting them. By focusing on moments when reigning aesthetic oppositions and hierarchies threatened to collapse, this study offers a powerful model for recovering shades of grey in the traditionally black-and-white historiographies of twentieth-century music.
Dalla seconda/terza di copertina
"Arnold Schoenberg may have claimed that the middle road is the only one that doesn’t lead to Rome, but Christopher Chowrimootoo’s exhaustively researched and elegantly written study proves otherwise. Deftly navigating between the entrenched oppositions of the Great Divide, he charts a course to the ambivalent heart of postwar modernism, inviting us to listen anew to its obfuscations and disavowals and offering along the way provocative reinterpretations not just of Britten’s operas, but of a range of figures from Sibelius to Boulez."—Arman Schwartz, author of Puccini’s Soundscapes: Realism and Modernity in Italian Opera
"With Middlebrow Modernism, the concept of the middlebrow has finally arrived on the musicological scene—and arrived it has! No mere primer, Chowrimootoo's provocative monograph reads between the lines of historical criticism to tease out the middlebrow's wide-ranging ambivalence and contradictions with unparalleled sophistication and depth. More than this, it inaugurates a middlebrow methodology, mediating nimbly between composition and criticism, and between aesthetic and social considerations. A must-read for anyone with interests in twentieth-century cultural history writ large."—Kate Guthrie, Lecturer in Music, University of Bristol
"A real feat. In a virtuoso deconstruction, Chowrimootoo shows that middlebrow modernism is anything but peripheral. It’s right there, at the center of the musical story, holding sway and holding court, trying and getting tried. At the same time, this middlebrow center gets teased apart, becoming anything, and anywhere, but middle—an endless agon, a labyrinth of disagreements, a roiling concentrate of modernism itself. All the while, the swift prose is a pleasure, the intelligence crackling, the capacious readings of Britten’s operas indispensable."—Seth Brodsky, author of From 1989, or European Music and the Modernist Unconscious