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The operas of J. N. von Poissl (1783-1865) aesthetics and ideology

Pickard, Martin John (2012) The operas of J. N. von Poissl (1783-1865) aesthetics and ideology. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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The Bavarian composer Johann Nepomuk von Poissl was regarded by many in the second decade of the nineteenth century as German opera’s greatest hope. Though neglected by later musicology, in his day Poissl was a central figure in the aesthetic discourses surrounding opera, being prominent as a composer, librettist, translator, journalist and director of the Munich Court Theatre. He was also a profoundly ideological artist, expressing in his operas a distinctive vision of Bavarian nationhood and of the wider German identity. This thesis represents the first substantial study of Poissl’s operatic oeuvre. It is based on a detailed reading of his thirteen surviving operas, all unpublished. It uses many previously untranscribed and untranslated sources. It shows how Poissl, in his prose writings as well as his operas, addressed what he and his contemporaries saw as the fundamental aesthetic values of opera. It also shows that several of Poissl’s works were a response to specific political, ideological and cultural issues. These include the Franco-Bavarian alliance, the post-Napoleonic settlement and the Catholic restoration of Bavaria under King Ludwig I. These threads are drawn together in a case study of Poissl’s opera Athalia (1814). This considers not only the literary and musical form of this piece but also its ideological content. It shows how Poissl’s particular vision of nationhood and faith was embedded not only in Athalia’s text but also in its music. It clarifies the dialogue-based form in which the opera was originally performed. It suggests that Poissl’s later addition of recitatives to Athalia not only obscured the dramatic and musical strengths of this particular work, but also gave rise to musicological misconceptions which have distorted and restricted our view of Poissl’s oeuvre as a whole.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
ISBN: 978-0-85731-256-3
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of Music (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.566333
Depositing User: Repository Administrator
Date Deposited: 08 Feb 2013 12:19
Last Modified: 07 Mar 2014 11:24
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/3353

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