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Antithetical ArtsOn the Ancient Quarrel Between Literature and Music$
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Peter Kivy

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199562800

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199562800.001.0001

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Shostakovich's Secret?

Shostakovich's Secret?

(p.157) 7 Shostakovich's Secret?
Antithetical Arts

Peter Kivy (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that the logically proper way to see the spate of recent attempts to put narrative interpretations on the works of absolute music, accepted as such in the canon, is to see them as attempts to demonstrate that these works are not works of absolute music at all but, in reality, programmatic works mistakenly taken to be works of absolute music. To do otherwise — in particular, to describe these interpretations as imparting narrative content to absolute music, as defined — is a logical howler. It is further argued that the bar for successful narrative interpretation of the absolute music canon — which is to say, the successful demonstration that an alleged work of absolute music is in reality program music a clef — must be raised.

Keywords:   absolute music, musical formalism, Arthur Danto, Shostakovich, narrative content

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