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Becoming Bach, Blaspheming Bach: Kinesthetic Knowledge and Embodied Music Theory in Ysaÿe's "Obsession" for Solo Violin

Greitzen, Mary Lee

This essay explores kinesthetic musical knowledge: what can it tell us about the music, the performer, or the composer? In discussing my own experience of performing "Obsession," the first movement of violinist-composer Eugène Ysaÿe's obsession. In the course of practicing and performing "Obsession," I have developed a reading of this piece as depicting not only Ysaÿe's purported obsession with Bach, but also with his possession by (a demonic) Bach. An embodied analysis such as I undertake here may uncover musical meanings apparent only to the performer, demonstrating that "the score is not the work to a performer; nor is the score-made-sound the work: the work includes the performer's mobilizing of previously studied skills so as to embody, to make real, to make sounding, a set of relationships that are only partly relationships among sounds".

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Current Musicology

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Music
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October 13, 2014