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Gay Darmstadt: Flamboyance and Rigor at the Summer Courses for New Music

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Paul Attinello


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During the late 1950s, the Darmstadt courses brought into contact a number of gay composers and theoreticians whose interactions—produced by differing attitudes towards openness and secrecy at the time—played an important part in the rapidly evolving aesthetic and technical dogmas of the European avant-garde. It is arguable whether the provocational talents of Boulez or Cage can be linked to the training in 'otherness' instilled by a gay private life. They were, however, put on their guard by Bussotti's arrival at Darmstadt in 1958. Bussotti's public flamboyance and frank use of homoerotic texts gained didactic and political strength through his relationship with Adorno's brilliant student Metzger. The impact of such overt provocation on the closeted Boulez, on the politically muddled Henze, and on such discomfited heterosexuals as Berio, Nono and Stockhausen, contributed to the aesthetic flux that characterized Darmstadt in the late fifties and early sixties.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Attinello P, Osmond-Smith D

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Contemporary Music Review, Special Issue: Other Darmstadts

Year: 2007

Volume: 26

Issue: 1

Pages: 105-114

Date deposited: 08/09/2011

ISSN (print): 0749-4467

ISSN (electronic): 0749-4467

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/07494460601069283

Notes: Edited by Attinello, Fox & Iddon.


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