Modernist Mysteries: Perséphone

TitleModernist Mysteries: Perséphone
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsLevitz, Tamara
Number of Pages655
PublisherOxford University Press

Modernist Mysteries: Perséphone presents a microhistorical analysis of the premiere of the melodrama Perséphone at the Paris Opera on April 30th, 1934, engaging with the collaborative, transnational nature of the production. Author Tamara Levitz demonstrates how these collaborators—Igor Stravinsky, André Gide, Jacques Copeau, and Ida Rubinstein, among others—used the myth of Persephone to perform and articulate their most deeply held beliefs about four topics significant to modernism: religion, sexuality, death, and historical memory in art. In investigating the aesthetic and political consequences of the artists' diverging perspectives, and the fall-out of their titanic clash on the theater stage, Levitz dismantles myths about neoclassicism as a musical style. The result is a revisionary account of modernism in music in the 1930s. Modernist Mysteries concludes that 1930s modernists understood neoclassicism not as formalist compositional approaches, but rather as a vitalist art haunted by ghosts of the past and promissory visions of the future.

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