Middlebrow Modernism: Britten's Operas and the Great Divide

Middlebrow Modernism: Britten's Operas and the Great Divide

by Christopher Chowrimootoo

Paperback(First Edition)

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Situated at the intersections of twentieth-century music history, historiography, and aesthetics, Middlebrow Modernism uses Benjamin Britten’s operas to illustrate the ways in which composers, critics, and audiences mediated the “great divide” between modernism and mass culture. Reviving mid-century discussions of the middlebrow, Christopher Chowrimootoo demonstrates how Britten’s works allowed audiences to have their modernist cake and eat it: to revel in the pleasures of consonance, lyricism, and theatrical spectacle even while enjoying the prestige that came from rejecting them. By focusing on moments when reigning aesthetic oppositions and hierarchies threatened to collapse, this study offers a powerful model for recovering shades of grey in the traditionally black-and-white historiographies of twentieth-century music.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780520298651
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication date: 10/09/2018
Series: California Studies in 20th-Century Music , #24
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 244
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Christopher Chowrimootoo is Assistant Professor in the Program of Liberal Studies and in the Department of Music at the University of Notre Dame. 

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

1. Middlebrow Modernism
2. Sentimentality under Erasure in Peter Grimes
3. The Timely Traditions of Albert Herring
4. The Turn of the Screw, or: The Gothic Melodrama of Modernism
5. The Burning Fiery Furnace and the Redemption of Religious Kitsch
6. Death in VeBérénice and the Aesthetics of Sublimation


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