Nineteenth-Century Music Review

Research Article

Programming Mahler: Meaning, Re-description, and the Post-Adornian Counterlife

Jeremy Barhama1 c1

a1 University of Surrey


In this article Adorno's approach to Mahler is subjected to linguistic-conceptual critique, in order to highlight its ambiguous philosophical and methodological syncretizing of discourses of epistemological commensurability and hermeneutic incommensurability. As a response to this and to Adorno's privileging of authorial production as determinant of meaning, this study invokes Richard Rorty's pragmatist philosophy and aspects of translation theory in order better to understand the world of post-Adornian Mahlerian meaning generated by use of the music in diverse screen works over the last half century. Examples of the ‘re-description’ of Mahler's music resulting from such usage are discussed in relation to the tradition spawned by Visconti's Death in Venice and in various contexts of appropriation, fragmentation and juxtaposition through which radical re-configurations of putative meaning take place.


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