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(p.71) 4 Style
Music in the Present Tense
Emanuele Senici
University of Chicago Press

This chapter begins by observing that the coupling of Rossini and Stefano Pavesi as inveterate self-borrowers points to repetition as the key characteristic that critics and at least part of the public heard in their music, since hearing self-borrowing ultimately means hearing repetition. Attention was focused not so much on repetition within works, though, but on repetition across them. This discourse raises two crucial issues: the identity of a piece of music, and the tension between individual style and common compositional idiom, or, better, the perceptual and discursive challenges thrown up by distinguishing between the two. How could one separate stylistic consistency from copying in works that resorted to repetition with literally unheard insistence? How should one handle music that seemed to take stylistic individuation to such an extreme that it was impossible to distinguish between different pieces within it? Such questions posed by the Rossinian discourse were part and parcel of the epoch-making shift in the conceptualization of aesthetic style from normativity to originality that took place around 1800.

Keywords:   style, self-borrowing, repetition, music aesthetics

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