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Title: The Symphony in 1933
Author: MacGregor, Emily
ISNI:       0000 0004 6494 5388
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2016
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Begun in Berlin, completed in exile in Paris, and premiered on both sides of the Atlantic, Kurt Weill's Symphony No. 2 sets up the symphony circa 1933 as both resolutely international and messily interdisciplinary, and spotlights how fundamentally a transnational approach is needed in order more comprehensively to understand both the genre and the localised political and social issues shaping symphonic discourse at this time. Taking the issues raised by Weill's symphony as a starting point, and borrowing fine-grained, historically synchronic approaches from year studies, this thesis examines the symphonic genre in 1933 through four other case-study works composed or premiered in that year. I thus position the symphony as a site of cultural exchange between and within the major contexts traversed by Weill and his work: Berlin, Paris, and a messier U.S. East-Coast nexus that centres on New York and Boston, via Mexico City, looking in detail at Hans Pfitzner's Symphony in C-sharp minor, Roy Harris's Symphony 1933, Aaron Copland's Short Symphony, and Arthur Honegger's Mouvement Symphonique nr. 3. The Germanic genre has long been associated with nationalism, monumentality, and power display, wedded to Germanic Enlightenment philosophical discourses about universalised selfhood and its relationship to society. 1933, the year in which Hitler took power and the Great Depression reached its peak, was politically and economically fraught, concentrating social questions that intersect with symphonic issues about power, selfhood, space, and mass audiences. It is also a neglected year within symphonic surveys. The thesis combines archival work and hermeneutic perspectives to foreground those social and political discourses historically associated with the genre. I argue for the significance of their differing legacies in co-existent contexts, for the complicity of the genre in establishing and perpetuating political and colonial hegemonies, and for the urgency of rethinking the symphony as an international phenomenon.
Supervisor: Grimley, Daniel M. Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Germany ; United States ; Symphony ; Modernism ; Reception history ; Mexico City ; Kurt Weill ; Great Depression ; Paris ; Berlin ; Hans Pfitzner ; transnationalism ; Aaron Copland ; National Socialism ; Carlos Chávez ; Roy Harris ; Arthur Honegger ; New York ; Boston