Maria João Mayer Branco
Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas, IFILNOVA
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Mit innigster Empfindung”. Luigi Nono and Walter Benjamin on music and feeling
Dedalus 21 (2017), pp. 53-71. Download PDF

The aim of this paper is to argue that the tendency of modern composers to resist expressing and appealing to emotions is compatible with an articulation between music and feeling which does not exclude critical reasoning or reflection. Focusing on the works of the composer Luigi Nono (1924-1990), and particularly on his late compositions Fragmente-Stille, an Diotima (1980) and Prometeo – tragedia dell’ascolto (1981-1985), the paper aims to show that emotional restraint in music does not necessarily entail the suppression of an affective response of the audience. The paper starts by clarifying Nono’s position towards ‘New Music’ (section 1), it then argues that Walter Benjamin’s ideas on music are helpful to understand the composer’s views (section 2), and it concludes by showing how Nono’s late works offer a musical experience which requires critical listeners articulating human reason with human feelings (section 3).