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Title: The dissolution of the avant-garde Darmstadt 1968-1984
Author: Iddon, M.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2004
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This dissertation is based on an examination of the decline of notions of musical avant-gardism, through a consideration of the parallel apparent decline of its most vital post-war institutional bastion, the Darmstädter Internationale Ferienkurse für Neue Musik. This represents the first study of full-scale study of the Darmstadt Ferienkurse in English. Its primary thesis is that, during the 1970s, notions of musical progress, as articulated after 1945, waned massively in their significance. The ‘big name’ composers, whose careers had been created in many cases by success at Darmstadt, increasingly found their compositional modes of thought being considered on the same level as previously marginalised composers. Indeed, I argue that, especially in the case of Karlheinz Stockhausen, the unprecedented centrality of the compositional work and ideologies of the ‘big shots’, as Feldman termed them, was directly responsible for their later fall. As a secondary argument, I suggest that the abandonment of the more famous composers by Darmstadt in the 1970s, though heavily criticised at the time, was directly responsible for the survival of the Ferienkurse in the burgeoning post-modern era. More than that, the seed sown in the 1970s led to Darmstadt’s revival as one of the most important focal points of contemporary music, under a new director, in the 1980s. A further important factor here was the revitalisation of interests in national styles. The German ‘Explosives Romantic’ and French Spectralists are examined in this context. I therefore argue that this decade has a critical significance, ordinarily marginalised by German writings on Darmstadt. The resources of the archive of the Internationales Musikinstitut Darmstadt (IMD), the convenors of the Ferienkurse, have been exhaustively utilised, integrating correspondence records, recordings of performances and lectures from the Ferienkurse and the IMD’s press archive. In addition, I have conducted a large number of interviews with composers, performers and journalists who were involved with the Ferienkurse. Since I am investing the decline of a cultural construct, rather that any clearly defined musical style, the methodology of the thesis is by necessity multidisciplinary, utilising approaches drawn from cultural studies and sociology as well as from mainstream musicology.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available