Physical distortion, emotion and subjectivity: musical virtuosity and body anxiety

Thormählen, W. (2014) Physical distortion, emotion and subjectivity: musical virtuosity and body anxiety. In: Music and the Nerves, 1700 – 1900. Palgrave Macmillan, Houndmills, Basingstoke, UK, pp. 191-217. ISBN 978-1-137-33950-8

Abstract

Examines the impact of theories of nervousness on debates on virtuosity. Examining the debate on figures such as Franz Liszt, the essay considers the musical body as the location of nervous stimulation, as an object of display, and as the subject of complex discourses on class and gender. Drawing on portraits of virtuosi from the 18th and 19th centuries and medical literature, it provides an important insight into the position of embodiment at a crucial period in the development of both the ideology of Classical music and of modern bourgeois subjectivity.

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