chapter  1
53 Pages

Discourse Channels: Listening as a Cultural–Historical Category in the Austro-German Frühromantik

This chapter attempts to think through the problematic of Mahler's body as both an historical and a political object of analysis by scrutinizing some of the contemporaneous literatures that help form a cultural currency of the body. Employ a series of interpretative strategies that centre on Mahler's body as an agent in the formation of that currency. Moreover, the notion that Mahler's symphonic imagination is one founded somehow in song engages another dualism of which German-speaking commentators on musical matters in the nineteenth century were fond vocal music vs 'absolute' music. In the context of ongoing articulation, by formalists like Riemann and Hanslick, of absolute music as a special or privileged site of cultural value, the connection of Mahler's Symphonik to an origin in 'song' is clearly meant to demean. Mahler's male Jewish body, weighed down under the intense discursive pressure of the scientist turn of fin-de-siecle criminology and raciology, comes to in a string of small and perplexing traces.