Neil T. Smith
The first book-length study in English of composer Mathias Spahlinger, one of Germany’s leading practitioners of contemporary music. One of the most stimulating and provocative figures on the new music scene on Germany, he has long been a touchstone for leftist, ‘critical’ composition there, yet his work has received very little attention in Anglophone scholarship until now.
Born in 1944, Spahlinger has risen only gradually to prominence in his native Germany and for many years was considered an outsider within the contemporary music scene. Yet his position as one of the most venerable exponents of post-WWII modernism in his homeland is now undeniable: his music is regularly performed, he has received commissions from many of the major orchestras and new music groups in Germany, and in 2014 he received the Großen Berliner Kunstpreis (Berlin Art Prize – Grand Prize) from the city’s Akademie der Künste (Academy of Arts).
Spahlinger is however becoming increasingly known as a significant figure within later twentieth-century music – in 2015, a festival in Chicago focused exclusively on his music, and he was a keynote speaker at a conference on Compositional Aesthetics and the Political at Goldsmiths, University of London.
This new book provides an essential reference for scholars of new music and twentieth-century modernism. There are no other book-length studies of Spahlinger in English, though there is a monograph and a book of essays in German, and books of interviews. This original work promises a more critical perspective upon the composer and his aesthetics and political ideas compared to previous publications. The illustrations include musical examples.
Primary market will be a specialist musicological readership, including academics, researchers and composers, but the writing style such that it could be accessible also to undergraduates interested in the field. The discussion of aesthetic debates in post-war Germany, and the interesting reading of the work of Jacques Rancière, mean that it could also have significant appeal across the disciplines of philosophy and critical theory.