The Pastoral After Environmentalism: Nature and Culture in Stephen Albert's Symphony: RiverRun

Watkins, Holly

In the arts, a suspicion of progress narratives, which had been gathering steam in the 1960s, fueled the search for alternatives to modernism and its principals of artistic autonomy, abstraction and the evolution of technique. Just as the revival of tonality has inspired controversy among composers and music critics committed to modernist ideals, the reemergence of a relatively tradition form of the pastoral raises questions about the significance of this genre in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Viewed in tandem with official and grass roots efforts to stem the tide of environmental damage, the pastoral's traditional themes of innocence and retreat into nature might appear merely quaint, or even dangerously out of touch with a world in need of concrete solutions to problems of global proportions.



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Columbia University
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October 20, 2014