Graduate Research Colloquium: Dr Ben Earle (University of Birmingham)

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Historical musicologists have never been very interested in philosophies of history—or at least, Anglophone historical musicologists have not. This paper will go against the grain in allowing itself to be guided by one of the more celebrated of such philosophies produced in the twentieth century: Walter Benjamin’s notion of ‘idea’, elaborated in his 1925 Origin of the German Trauerspiel. In keeping also with Benjamin’s position is the choice of a generally neglected, if not despised, field in which to carry out this historiographical experiment. The overall aim is to show how, with the aid of a Benjaminian approach, the British Symphony can be understood to present a striking alternative to standard views of the history of art music composition in this country over the last century or so.

Ben Earle is Associate Professor of Music at the University of Birmingham. He has published primarily on Italian and British music of the twentieth century. Currently he has chapters or articles forthcoming on structure and expression in twelve-note music, on symbol and allegory in the music of Frank Bridge, on the recent Frankfurt production of Luigi Dallapiccola’s opera Ulisse, and on politics in Puccini. The present paper was written for the forthcoming Cambridge Companion to the British Symphony, ed. Nicholas Jones.
About the series:
The Colloquia feature leading figures, as well as younger scholars, from across the world. They present their research in papers on all kinds of music-related topics. Graduate students Chuyu Zhang and Eugenie Dalgleish organise the series. Presentations are followed by a discussion and drinks reception. If you would like more information, please email Chuyu Zhang.