RNCM Research Forum – Dr Annika Forkert
Wednesday 10 March 2021, 4.15pm
The fourteenth edition of our new Sir John Manduell Research Forum series features a discussion with Dr Annika Forkert.
Elisabeth Lutyens’s Anxieties
This presentation seeks to map out some notions of serial composer Elisabeth Lutyens’s anxiety over other composers’ influence in her serial concert music. I argue that Lutyens creatively battled what she perceived as a complex of risks presented by notions of her music reminding audiences of towering figures such as Webern, Schoenberg, or Stravinsky. Such anxiety of influence forms the centre not only of Harold Bloom’s theory of “poetic misreadings” in his seminal Anxiety of Influence, but also of Joseph Straus’s Remaking the Past, which presents a case for a re-evaluation of creative misreadings in music by the Second Viennese School, Bartók, and Stravinsky. Lutyens’s first BBC Proms commission Symphonies for Solo Piano, Wind, Harps and Percussion, premiered in 1961, is a case study able to test the limits of these Bloomian ideas. The composer, then 56 years of age, had charged this piece with several allusions to other arts, but, as ever, was keen to hide some, and highlight other, musical influence. Moving from the biographical to the analytical, I seek to locate Lutyens among her fellow modernist misreaders.
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