SESSION 7: Writings on Music: Critical Thought and Literary Testimonies

Friday, 27 November 2020

15:00 – 16:30 SESSION 7:

Writings on Music: Critical Thought and Literary Testimonies

chair: Monika Jurić Janjik

15:00 – 15:30 Nataša Marjanović:

Literary History and Musical Historiography: From Fundamental to Interdisciplinary Research

15:30 – 16:00 Jelena Sviben:

Adorno as a Paradigm? The Case of Music Criticism in Croatia

16:00 – 16:30 Sussane Kogler:

Aesthetic Experience and the Political Relevance of Art: Reconsidering Musicology with Hannah Arendt and Theodor W. Adorno

Nataša Marjanović

Institute of Musicology, Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Belgrade


Literary History and Musical Historiography – from Fundamental to Interdisciplinary Research

This presentation will sketch the interconnectedness and interdisciplinary relation between literature and music, philology and musicology. The links between the two fields are usually considered in regard to the presence of literary text in music genres (vocal art, opera, programme music), the con­tent of literary works dealing with music, the stories about musicians (in novels and short stories) or the status of (auto)biography, memoir or diary of prominent musicians. Our research highlights the need to recognise docu­mentary prose as a source of musicology research. It brings to light the presence of music as literary topics through memoir documents on music life, as well as the problem of influences of literary history on musical historiography.

The paper is based on the results of pioneer research of unexplored records from diaries, memoirs, autobiographies and travelogues written by Serbian cultural workers (writers, artists, statesmen, politicians) during the 19th century. The research material diachronically reflects the dynam­ics and evolution of forms and ways of presence of music in the Habsburg Mon­archy, in the Principality and Kingdom of Serbia, showing that music played an essential role in public and private life across all social strata in those complicated geo-political and cultural-historical periods.

The paper intends to sketch the importance of the memoir testimonies on music as significant, basic sources for further musicological studies, as well as the great inspiration for philological and interdisciplinary commen­tary on the process of writing, the position of music as a theme in the the­matic and morphological organisation of various memoir writings.

Key words: historiography, musicology, literature, documentary prose, memoir testimonies

Nataša Marjanović (1984), musicologist, is a research associate at the Institute of Musicology of Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts (Belgrade). She gradu­ated in musicology from the Faculty of Music in Belgrade (2009) and obtained her PhD from the Faculty of Philology, University of Belgrade (2016). She is currently working on a project to publish the Collected Works of Kornelije Stanković and as an associate on the projects at Matica srpska in Novi Sad. Her papers have been published in national and international journals and edited books. She is the author of monograph Music in the Life of Serbs in the 19th Century – From the Documentary Evidence (Muzika u životu Srba u 19. veku – iz memoarske riznice, Belgrade 2019). Her research interests include Serbian music of the 19th century, church music, cultural and literary history.

Jelena Sviben

Zlatar High School, Zlatar


Adorno as a Paradigm? The Case of Music Criticism in Croatia

Critical opinions of some Croatian music critics from the 1960s and 1970s appear to be influenced by the writings of Theodor Adorno. In this paper I will focus on the critical and polemical writings of Igor Mandić published during the same period. Mandić is a music (and literary) critic who emphasised the relations between social structure, taste, and forms of musical life. According to him, a contemporary musical culture in Croatia was behind the times and the task of a music critic was to confront such condition. I will discuss in which sense his judgements could be seen as influenced and shaped by Adorno’s writings, and to what extent his critical practice could be considered paradigmatic for the music criticism of the 1960s and 1970s in Croatia.

Key words: Igor Mandić, music, criticism, Croatia, Theodor Adorno, reception studies, paradigm, 1960s, 1970s, Music Biennale Zagreb


Jelena Sviben graduated from the University of Zagreb, Academy of Music, with the MA thesis on the role of listening in Roland Barthes’ thought. Currently she teaches music at Zlatar High School. She translates studies and essays on music and literature for the Third Programme of the Croatian Radio, and occasionally writes music reviews for daily newspapers.

Susanne Kogler

University of Music and Performing Arts (KUG), Graz


Aesthetic Experience and the Political Relevance of Art:

Reconsidering Musicology with Hannah Arendt and Theodor W. Adorno

In the post war period Hannah Arendt and Theodor W. Adorno tried to elaborate a critical thought that would help to prevent a future revival of the murderous catastrophes of modernity which Western World’s tra­di­tional humanistic culture had not been able to prevent. In order to do so both relied on their experience of life in post war Germany. Even if their philosophical thoughts differ in many respects they share some important viewpoints, such as their dissatisfaction with society’s efforts to reflect the basis of totalitarian regimes efficiently, their belief in art as an im­portant source of political insight, and their conviction of an intellectual and scientific responsibility for social and political life as a whole.

Even if postmodernism and new musicology have already changed tradi­tional approaches, the question of the impact of art and science on the development of our societies has not been discussed widely enough yet. By reconsidering and bringing together some of Arendt’s and Adorno’s thoughts the paper will discuss the ways in which we could reconsider musicology as a political discipline today: a discipline that would be able to take part in important discussions concerning major problems of our societies in the 21st century and a more and more individualised and, at the same time, globalised world.

Key words: Hannah Arendt, Theodor W. Adorno, critical theory, musicology, aesthetics

Susanne Kogler is professor of musicology at the University of Graz. She stud­ied music education, classics and musicology at the Karl-Franzens-University and the University of Music and Performing Arts in Graz. 2012 postdoctoral lecture qualification (habilitation) at the Institute of Musicology at the Uni­ver­sity of Graz. 1996-2011 member of the scientific staff of the Institute for Aesthetics at the University of Music and Performing Arts Graz, 2010-2011 Senior Scientist and vice director at the Centre for Gender Studies, 2012-2020 director of the Arts University’s Archives. Her teaching and research focus on contemporary music, music history of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, music and language, gender and music aesthetics.

Publications: Adorno versus Lyotard: moderne und postmoderne Ästhetik, Freiburg: Alber, 2014; Die Zukunft der Oper. Zwischen Hermeneutik und Performativität, ed. by Barbara Beyer, Susanne Kogler and Roman Lemberg, Berlin: Theater der Zeit, 2014; Kunst als Spiegel, realer, virtueller und imaginärer Welten. Zum künstlerischen Schaffen Olga Neuwirths, ed. by Su­sanne Kogler and Stefan Drees, Graz: Leykam, 2018 (Fokus Musik 1).

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