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Mark Evan Bonds
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, NC 27599-1350)
Music as Autobiography: Connections between Composers' Lives and Their Works

Whose emotions do we hear in music? Responses to this question have changed radically and more than once since the 18th century, when critics first addressed the relationship between a composer’s personal feelings and the emotions expressed in a work of music. Enlightenment commentators viewed expression as a construct calculated to evoke an emotional response. But through a convergence of philosophical, cultural, technological, and economic changes around 1830, composers and listeners alike became more inclined to consider music as wordless autobiography, a revelation of its creator’s innermost self. The "New Objectivity" of the 1920s and the high modernism of mid-century marked a return to the concept of expression as an objective construct. My book-length study reconfigures musical Classicism, Romanticism, and Modernism not in terms of stylistic developments (e.g., form or harmony) but in terms of changing ideas about the source and nature of music’s emotional qualities.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
Aesthetics; History, Criticism, and Theory of the Arts; Music History and Criticism

Fellowships for University Teachers

Research Programs

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2016 – 12/31/2016