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Deconstructive Variations

Music and Reason in Western Society

1995
Author:

Rose Rosengard Subotnik

Deconstructive Variations

A new volume by one of America’s leading musicologists.

In this sequel to her previous collection, Developing Variations, Subotnik applies the insights of Kant, Adorno, Bakhtin, and Derrida to major works of Mozart and Chopin.

“Rose Rosengard Subotnik’s work has long defined the forefront of musicological methods and set a high standard for ethically engaged scholarship. In Deconstructive Variations, she brings her impressive knowledge of culture and philosophy to bear on a wide array of new topics, ranging from Mozart operas to the films of Spike Lee. And her chapter on deconstruction not only makes the best case I have seen for the application of this method to music, but it also presents one of the most compelling defenses for deconstruction available. A brilliant contribution to music and cultural studies.” --Susan McClary, UCLA

Rose Rosengard Subotnik’s work has long defined the forefront of musicological methods and set a high standard for ethically engaged scholarship. In Deconstructive Variations, she brings her impressive knowledge of culture and philosophy to bear on a wide array of new topics, ranging from Mozart operas to the films of Spike Lee. And her chapter on deconstruction not only makes the best case I have seen for the application of this method to music, but it also presents one of the most compelling defenses for deconstruction available. A brilliant contribution to music and cultural studies.

Susan McClary Professor of Musicology UCLA

Unique in its focus and its interdisciplinary reach, Rose Rosengard Subotnik’s work is among the most original and challenging being done in American musicology. Her concerns are both formal and sociological, firmly linking music to social and cultural context and breaking down the barriers between music and life.

Deconstructive Variations is a sequel to Subotnik’s previous collection, Developing Variations. It expands and continues her achievement-the promotion of humanistic criticism as a significant activity in music scholarship and the portrayal of Western art music in relation to the social structures and cultural values of the society that created it.

Bringing to her subject a vast range of philosophical, artistic, and historical knowledge, Subotnik applies the insights of Kant, Adorno, Bakhtin, and Derrida to major works of Mozart and Chopin. Each of these essays functions as an argument between two views: for and against the ideal of structural listening; Enlightenment and Romantic readings of The Magic Flute; high-modernist and postmodernist readings of Chopin’s A-Major Prelude; and conceptions of reason put forward by Allan Bloom and Spike Lee.

Rose Rosengard Subotnik is professor in the Department of Music at Brown University, and is the author of Developing Variations: Style and Ideology in Western Music (Minnesota, 1991).

Deconstructive Variations

Rose Rosengard Subotnik is professor in the Department of Music at Brown University.

Deconstructive Variations

Rose Rosengard Subotnik’s work has long defined the forefront of musicological methods and set a high standard for ethically engaged scholarship. In Deconstructive Variations, she brings her impressive knowledge of culture and philosophy to bear on a wide array of new topics, ranging from Mozart operas to the films of Spike Lee. And her chapter on deconstruction not only makes the best case I have seen for the application of this method to music, but it also presents one of the most compelling defenses for deconstruction available. A brilliant contribution to music and cultural studies.

Susan McClary Professor of Musicology UCLA

A salutary contribution to contemporary musical scholarship. Rose Subotnik has set a standard for criticism equaled by few and offers a model worthy of emulation by all scholars who wish to probe the interrelationships between music, knowledge, and society.

Stephen Miles, New College of the University of South Florida Notes

Rose Subotnik stands out as perhaps the most interesting and provocative person to have written from a nonpositivist, nonvenerative position about music in society, rather than music as autonomous art. Her massive project on post-Kantian philosophy, as embodied in and carried forward by music, is in a class by itself. As a philological and interpretive reading of Adorno, she is, I believe, the major voice.

Edward W. Said, Columbia University

Subotnik is one of the few American musical scholars who can interest, impress, and simply address modern intellectuals in other fields on a high level.

Joseph Kerman

Subotnik is a challenging, imaginative and risk-taking scholar, in control of both a difficult body of theoretical texts and of the musical tradition she uses them to interpret.

Martin Jay

Subotnik is one of the leading voices in musical scholarship and criticism alike.

Richard Taruskin

Subotnik is one of the seminal minds of my generation. She tackles more complex, more subtle problems than many musicologists, and the light she sheds on these problems is a brilliant one.

Neal Zalow

Subotnik is a scholar of striking originality, penetrating insight and acumen, and deep, as well as ardent, intellectual concern and integrity.

Leonard B. Meyer

A must-read for anyone interested in music aesthetics, poststructural theory, and the moral burdens of musicology and music pedagogy at the close of the twentieth century. The essays in Deconstructive Variations provide a shining example of recent trends in music scholarship toward poststructuralism and cultural studies. And perhaps more importantly, they make for gripping reading in their embodiment of Subotnik’s ideal of socially engaged music scholarship.

NOTES, Quarterly Journal of the Music Library Association