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In Search of Meaning in Context: Bartok's Duke Bluebeard's Castle

Frigyesi, Judit

An understanding of Duke Bluebeard's Castle entails two interrelated topics,
which cannot be fully explored in the limited scope of this article. The
first, the interpretation of the symbolism of the opera, would necessitate a
thorough analysis of text and music and also the exploration of the cultural
context in depth. The second topic, the definition of a "meaningful
context" in relation to the symbolic world of a musical piece, is even more
problematic. Even if one were instantly convinced of the existence of an
inherent relationship between Lukacs's aesthetic theory and Bartok's music,
the problem remains of how to substantiate such an "insight" in the
absence of demonstrable, concrete influences. In Bartok's case, this latter
question concerns not only his relation to Lukacs, but also his cultural environment
at large. We will encounter the same situation when attempting
to find parallels to Bartok's works in the poems of Endre Ady. While the
meaning of influence is fairly straightforward in certain musical-technical
aspects of Bartok's style, his global aesthetic concepts in relation to his cultural
environment resist concretization. In attempting, on the one hand,
to explore the basic symbolic ideas of the opera, and, on the other, to address
the problem of finding the context that substantiates these symbols,
my conclusions will necessarily remain fragmentary.

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Also Published In

Title
Current Musicology

More About This Work

Academic Units
Music
Publisher
Columbia University
Published Here
November 26, 2014