MUS 116 Music in Modernism (Not offered 1999-2000)

The synthesis of the arts was a primary pursuit of modernist composers, artists, choreographers, and writers. Seeking either to realize Wagner's "total work of art" in the theater, or to uncover the more general correspondences celebrated by Baudelaire, modernists consistently looked beyond their own media. Collaborations on works of "total theater" were common: Satie, Cocteau, Massine, Picasso; Brecht, Hindemith, Weill; Stravinsky, Nijinsky, Bakst; Claudel, Honegger, Rubinstein. Modernists explored new connections between music and color (Scriabin, Kandinsky), music and literature (Joyce, Mann), and music and dance (Duncan, Graham). Occasionally, modernists attempted to unite the arts on their own: Schoenberg painted, Pound composed, and Kokoschka wrote. Our focus will be on those works of music, art, dance, and literature that explored new relationships between the arts. One goal will be to investigate whether specific equivalents exist between techniques of modernist painting, poetics, choreography, and composition. Aware of the risks and rewards of interdisciplinary study, we will attempt our own theories of artistic synthesis. This course is designed to bring multiple perspectives to the study of music in modernism. Evaluation based on three papers and class participation. No prerequisites.