The Freud Museum

Events Archive

18 February 2010

Psychoanalysis and Modern Music in Freud's Vienna

Thursday 18th February 2010 7pm - 8.30pm

While Freud famously claimed that he could derive no pleasure from music, and was reputed to have been tone deaf and largely indifferent to the fecund musical culture surrounding him, it is nonetheless indisputable that Freud and psychoanalysis influenced the music and musicians of his Vienna. It is well known that Freud treated a number of Viennese musical luminaries, including Gustav Mahler and Bruno Walter; what is less well known and understood is that Freud's literature and pool of patients made direct and meaningful contact with the composer Arnold Schoenberg and his milieu. Schoenberg, one of the most important composers of the 20th century and the putative father of musical modernism, began to articulate what must be considered a psychoanalytic compositional ethos in the first decade of the 20th century; by 1909, he had composed the ephocal monodrama Erwartung, arguably the first psychoanalytic opera. This talk examines the extent to which Freud's early case histories--especially "Dora"--and texts like The Interpretation of Dreams shaped the advent of modern atonal music in Vienna.

This is the first of three evening talks about music and psychoanalysis. Further information forthcoming.

Alexander Carpenter is a musicologist and music critic. His research focuses on the music of Arnold Schoenberg, music and psychoanalysis, opera, and popular music. He has published articles in The Musical Quarterly, Notes, and Magyar Zene (in Hungarian); recent essays on the waltz and on popular music appear in the books Schoenberg's Chamber Music, Schoenberg's World and De-Canonizing Music History. He has also been interviewed several times on Canada's national radio station (the CBC), most recently on the subject of Freud, Mozart and Don Giovanni. Dr. Carpenter teaches at the Augustana campus of the University of Alberta, Canada.

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