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Analytical and hermeneutical perspectives on the music of Pavel Haas

Čurda, Martin 2017. Analytical and hermeneutical perspectives on the music of Pavel Haas. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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The Czech composer Pavel Haas (1899–1944) is commonly positioned in the history of twentieth-century music as a representative of Leoš Janáček‘s compositional school and as one of the Jewish composers imprisoned by the Nazis in the concentration camp of Terezín (Theresienstadt). However, the nature of Janáček‘s influence remains largely unexplained and the focus on the context of the Holocaust tends to yield a one-sided view of Haas‘s oeuvre. The existing scholarship offers limited insight into Haas‘s compositional idiom and does not sufficiently explain the composer‘s position with respect to broader aesthetic trends and artistic networks in inter-war Czechoslovakia and beyond. The purpose of this thesis is to enhance the knowledge and understanding of Haas‘s music through analytical and hermeneutical interpretation as well as cultural and aesthetic contextualisation, and thus reveal the rich nuances of Haas‘s multi-faceted work which have not been sufficiently recognised so far. Following a survey of Czech inter-war avant-garde discourse, undertaken in Chapter 1, I argue in Chapter 2 that Haas‘s works from the 1920s were profoundly influenced by the Czech avant-garde movement known as Poetism. In Chapter 3, I discuss the emergence of Neoclassical tendencies in Haas‘s music from the 1930s. In Chapter 4, I analyse Haas‘s compositional language through Janáček‘s notion of ‗sčasování‘, focusing particularly on the relationship between rhythm and form. Chapter 5 looks into Haas‘s enigmatic opera Charlatan from the perspective of literary types and genres, questioning its relevance to the impending horrors of Nazism. The final chapter explores the portrayal of troubled subjectivity in Haas‘s song cycle from Terezín. Throughout the thesis, I discuss the composer‘s fascination with the recurrent topoi of carnival and the fairground, as well as his preoccupation with semantic ambiguity resulting from ironic subversion of meaning, grotesque exaggeration and distortion, and collage-like juxtaposition of incongruous elements.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Music
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 24 April 2017
Last Modified: 20 Apr 2021 09:25

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