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Products for grant FT-248702-16

The Postwar Humanism of American Composer George Rochberg (1918-2005)
Amy Wlodarski, Dickinson College

Grant details:

George Rochberg, American Composer: Personal Trauma and Artistic Creativity (Book)
Title: George Rochberg, American Composer: Personal Trauma and Artistic Creativity
Author: Amy Lynn Wlodarski
Abstract: George Rochberg, American Composer, is the first comprehensive study devoted to tracing and putting into a rich cultural context the career of George Rochberg, widely acknowledged as one of the most prominent musical postmodernists. Drawing from unpublished materials including diaries, letters, sketches, and personal papers, the book traces the impact of two specific personal traumas--Rochberg's service as an infantryman in World War II and the premature death of his son--on his work as a leading composer, college educator, and public intellectual. The book significantly expands our understanding of Rochberg's creative work by reconstructing and examining the earliest seeds of his aesthetic thinking--which took root while he served in Patton's Third Army--and following their development through his mature compositional period into the final stages of his long career. It argues that Rochberg's military service was a transformative life experience for the young humanist, one that crucially shaped his worldview and influenced his artistic creativity for the next sixty years. As such it reveals personal trauma and aesthetic recovery to be the basis of Rochberg's postwar ideas about humanism, musical quotation, and neotonality.
Year: 2019
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: Publisher's Page
Publisher: University of Rochester Press
Type: Single author monograph
ISBN: 1580469477
Copy sent to NEH?: No

George Rochberg's Road to Are Combinatoria, 1943–63 (Article)
Title: George Rochberg's Road to Are Combinatoria, 1943–63
Author: Amy Lynn Wlodarski
Abstract: George Rochberg often attributed his postmodern shift to the death of his son in 1964. Accordingly, the literature has described his practice of ars combinatoria (“art of combination”) as an “abrupt about-face”—a sudden rejection of modernist aesthetics. But the composer's unpublished essays, diaries, correspondence, and musical sketchbooks suggest that the road to ars combinatoria had well-laid roots in two of his least considered biographical periods: his service during World War II and his serial period. During these two decades, Rochberg actively sought positive models for humanistic composition, historical figures who rose to the level of musical heroes in that they served humanity through their art. But as the war had taught him, heroes are necessarily defined by their struggle against nemeses in ethical conflicts. Correspondingly, he constructed the other side of the artistic world as a realm of vain egoists who sought self-promotion and seemed unconcerned with humanistic modes of expression. As his ideas matured, Rochberg assigned different figures to these archetypes, but the guiding ethical criteria remained fairly consistent throughout. I therefore argue that ars combinatoria was less a sudden aesthetic reversal than it was the result of a longer cumulative process of self-assessment and compositional maturation.
Year: 2018
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: Journal Issue Webpage
Format: Journal
Periodical Title: Journal of the Society for American Music
Publisher: Cambridge University Press