2004-10-05

Freud and Music

I have finished reading a novel called The Cello Player by Michael Kruger. The problem is, I don't get it, so there is nothing more I can write about it. But since I have been writing about Freud in this blog in recent days, I just can't resist the temptation to quote two amusing paragraphs from this novel.

"Psychoanalysis and Music" - I attended the lecture often, along with all the pretty students. Why had the petite blonde chosen the harp she pressed so trustingly between her thighs? Why did the stocky, pimply fellow from Munster blow his sparse breath into a trombone? And why did Beethoven decide one day that he did not want to hear his own sounds anymore? Even the issue of whether Schubert had homosexual tendencies troubled my generation. "The Effect of Drive Renunciation on Artistic Archievement" was the seminar everybody wanted to attend. ... A parallel nightmare was the elaborate lecture on "Marxism and Music," another course everybody felt obliged to attend. The climax of those years came when a fusion of the two was offered: "The Influence of Psychoanalysis and Marxism on Musical Development: The Instinctual Life of Sounds as the Expression of the Bad Conscience of Industrial Late Capitalism, as seen in Stravinsky and Schonberg." All obsessive-compulsives, that was clear. How had all these beautiful theories withered aways?

If one were to offer such courses today, thirty years later, one would probably be declared insane. I don't know a single musician who has read more than a line of Freud or Marx. Back then, one had to; there was no excuse not to.

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