Britten's Unquiet Pasts: Sound and Memory in Postwar by Heather Wiebe

By Heather Wiebe

Analyzing the intersections among musical tradition and a British venture of reconstruction from the Forties to the early Nineteen Sixties, this research asks how gestures towards the previous negotiated problems with restoration and renewal. within the wake of the second one global battle, track turned a privileged website for re-enchanting notions of historical past and neighborhood, yet musical recourse to the earlier additionally raised problems with mourning and loss. How used to be sound figured as a historic item and as a locus of reminiscence and magic? Wiebe addresses this question utilizing quite a lot of assets, from making plans files to journalism, public ceremonial and literature. Its principal concentration, even if, is a collection of works by way of Benjamin Britten that engaged either with the far-off musical prior and with key episodes of postwar reconstruction, together with the competition of england, the Coronation of Elizabeth II and the rebuilding of Coventry Cathedral.

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What was needed was a more indigenous and participatory alternative to both “American” mass culture and equally commercial middle-class concertgoing, characterized by a standard fixed repertory, mainly of foreign origin (or inferior British imitations), and an attitude of passive consumption. One often finds urban concert culture referred to in derogatorily capitalist terms in 1940s and 1950s criticism. ” Referring to a BBC broadcast of William Byrd’s music, he wrote in 1942, “For half-an-hour one forgot the concert industry with its Tschaikowsky [sic] and Addinsell concertos, its denial of everything 58 59 60 61 W.

Eliot’s Orchestra: Critical Essays on Poetry and Music, ed. John Xiros Cooper (New York: Garland, 2000), 217–221. Britten, “England and the Folk-Art Problem,” 75. ”11 This “art of life” had been destroyed by “the machine,” which brought mass-production, standardization, and “levelling-down” (3). For Leavis and Thompson, the next best thing was a literary education, and more broadly an education in taste and in “critical awareness of the cultural environment,” a prominent part of which, the rest of their book suggests, was precisely an appreciation for what was lost.

E. ” Picture Post 18 (January 2, 1943), quoted in Weight, “Building a New British Culture,” 162. Ivor Brown, “A Plan for the Arts,” in Homes, Towns and Countryside: A Practical Plan for Britain, ed. Gilbert and Elizabeth McAllister (London: Batsford, 1945), 140, quoted in Weight, “Building a New British Culture,” 164. Arts Council of Great Britain, Plans for an Arts Centre (London: Lund Humphries, 1945). See Weight, “Building a New British Culture,” 173. 64 The Arts Council addressed one aspect of this problem with its attempt at least partially to protect art music from the demands of the market.

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