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Fragment and Flow: On Wolfgang Rihm’s Dionysus opera
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Culture and Aesthetics.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9218-2029
2017 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation only (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Wolfgang Rihm often deals with musical history as material – his own works included – using a series of techniques and strategies. Adopting the technique of overpainting, confronting the German-Austrian tradition from Bach to the Second Vienna School through stylistic borrowings rather than actual quotes, and playing with musical ciphers, Rihm activates and decodes history. The past appears as fragments, but in Rihm’s later works, these fragments are swept away in a unstoppable flow.

Since the 1990s, Rihm’s treatment of fragment diverges clearly from Romantic and modernistic sensibilities, represented by for instance Robert Schumann’s song and piano cycles and György Kurtág’s fractured material. During the two last decades, the flow has been a salient feature of Rihm’s works, and the most divergent materials can appear in this inclusive flow.

Rihm’s transgressive treatment of the two seemingly opposite phenomena ‘fragment’ and ‘flow’ is no more apparent than in his ‘operatic fantasy’ Dionysos (2009–10). His starting point is Friedrich Nietzsche’s Dionysos-Dithyramben: he has rearranged and mixed textual fragments from the poems, but he has also turned to Nietzsche’s notebooks from the 1880s, that stockpile of fragments. The dismembering of bodies and the staging of a deteriorating mind enhances the process of fragmentation. These fragments loose their character of being fractured due to a musical flow that is in itself is blatantly heterogeneous.

In my paper I would like to elucidate the relation between the poles of fragment and flow, characterized not by tension, but by attraction. In the same way as with the Romantic and the modernistic fragment, Rihm’s flowing fragments can be seen as being paradigmatic for a specific period of history, our contemporary liquid culture.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017.
Keyword [en]
fragment, flow, Wolfgang Rihm, the Dionysian
National Category
Musicology
Research subject
Musicology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-151473OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-151473DiVA, id: diva2:1173531
Conference
Word and Music Studies: 11th International Conference. Arts of Incompletion: Fragments, Drafts, Revisions in Words and Music, Stockholm, Sweden, August 9–12, 2017
Projects
Wordling and Unworlding
Available from: 2018-01-12 Created: 2018-01-12 Last updated: 2018-02-26Bibliographically approved

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