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Opera and the Limits of Philosophy:: on Bernard Williams's Music Criticism
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of Musicology. Guildhall School of Music and Drama.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-1070-0193
2010 (English)In: British Journal of Aesthetics, ISSN 0007-0904, E-ISSN 1468-2842, Vol. 50, no 4, 469-479 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper provides a reading of the opera criticism of Bernard Williams in the light of his philosophical writings. Beginning with the observations that his philosophical writing lacks engagement with musical and aesthetic issues, and his operatic writing appears to present no particular philosophy of the subject, I try to draw together certain themes by mapping Williams's operatic concerns onto his philosophical project more generally. I argue that the 'excessive' nature of the artform—the idea that opera tends to exceed its musico-dramatic functions—was of particular interest to Williams, partly because it resonated with his dislike of easy theoretical solutions to thorny practical issues. More speci cally, Mozart's Cosi fan tutte is related, via the way the way its emotional register exceeds its dramatic context, to the issues examined by Williams in his work on moral luck. Similarly, I discuss the way Williams's essay on Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande seems to hint at an account of the emotions which is otherwise missing from Williams's oeuvre. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2010. Vol. 50, no 4, 469-479 p.
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Research subject
Aesthetics; Musicology
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-294017DOI: 10.1093/aesthj/ayq038OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-294017DiVA: diva2:928529
Available from: 2016-05-16 Created: 2016-05-16 Last updated: 2016-05-20Bibliographically approved

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