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Appropriating Biography of Critical Musicology: a psychobiographical case study of Maurice Ravel and L'Enfant et les sortilèges

Oliver, James (2013) Appropriating Biography of Critical Musicology: a psychobiographical case study of Maurice Ravel and L'Enfant et les sortilèges. MA by research thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

This thesis begins with the premise that the life and work of a composer need not necessarily be considered in contemporary musicological criticism as distinct entities; rather, this thesis sets out to demonstrate that the life and work of a composer can, within the appropriate critical constraints, be mutually informative sources of information and may be even considered as inextricably linked. The first part of this thesis identifies the historical reasoning behind the rejection of biography by traditional musicologies – namely the perception that biography is both unrelated to musicological enquiry and not a critically viable/empirical source of information. The trend in contemporary ‘critical’ musicology away from less dogmatic and empirical modes of criticism and towards more subjective lines of enquiry is used as a foundation upon which a new methodology (that allows biographical insight to function meaningfully within musicology) can be built. This methodology is named ‘musico-psychobiography’ as it proposes that the nascent interpretive field of psychobiography might be better suited to a theoretical construction that demands critical reliability and analytical rigour than traditional conceptions of biography. The first part of this thesis concludes with an exegesis of the key theoretical objections to this pursuit, and offers counterpositions to them in order to secure a stable methodological process. The second part of this thesis is dedicated to the practical exploration of this methodology by means of a case study of composer Maurice Ravel and his opera L’Enfant et les sortilèges. A close reading of the psychological dynamics articulated by L’Enfant in conjunction with an assessment of key psychobiographical saliences in operation in Ravel’s life leads us to a number of interesting conclusions; moreover, by modifying the psychodynamic concept of projective identification to apply to a composer and their work, we are able to explore in a different light the dynamics of interaction between Ravel and his opera.

Item Type: Thesis (MA by research)
Keywords: Psychobiography, Ravel, Opera, Author, Hermeneutics, Postmodernism, Critical, Musicology, Biography, Analysis
Academic Units: The University of York > Music (York)
Depositing User: Mr James Oliver
Date Deposited: 12 Aug 2013 08:41
Last Modified: 12 Aug 2013 08:41
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/4190

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