Seth Brodsky to join Department of Music Faculty

Dear friends and colleagues:

I’m extremely happy to announce that music historian Seth Brodsky, Assistant Professor at Yale University, a specialist in music of postwar period, 1945-present, has just accepted our offer to join the faculty here in fall 2011.

Prof. Brodsky holds degrees from Wake Forest University (B.A., 1997) and the Eastman School of Music (M.A., 2002; Ph.D., 2007). Prior to joining the Yale faculty in 2006, he spent a year in Berlin as a Humboldt German Chancellor Scholar.
Brodsky’s work as a scholar, teacher, and critic is guided by the tension between history as documentary practice, history as imagination, and imagination as forgetting; between event, memory, and the new, “that which happened” and its subjective transcription, distortion, and effacement.

This work informs Brodsky’s recent courses, which include an undergraduate seminar on intertextuality and influence in 20-century composition, focusing on the ambivalent role of the composer as both an original author and a reader/arranger of other texts; a graduate seminar on composing at the turn of the millennium, which examines the current cultural position of the living composer-as writer of musical works, producer of texts-to-be-read, and inheritor of the “literate tradition”; and an undergraduate course on music and melancholy, charting a double history of the rich concept of melancholy and its influence on Western music from the Middle Ages through the present day.

Brodsky is completing a book uniting many of these themes. Currently titled Fail Better: Utopian Strains in European Music, 1961-2001, it explores four of postwar Europe’s most influential composers (Luciano Berio, György Ligeti, Helmut Lachenmann, and Wolfgang Rihm) within the context of Adorno’s writing on utopian negativity. Related projects include articles on Rihm and the German metaphysical tradition, an article (in preparation) on Berio, Berg, and Celan; memory in the music of Britten; and an examination of postwar European music as an endeavor in alternative memorial, not only to the aesthetic utopias of past modernisms, but also to the genocides of the last century and some of the complicity of art with them.

Brodsky has worked for years as a critic and program annotator. In addition to work for the Kurt Weill Newsletter, Andante Magazine, and All Music Guide, he has written concert notes and essays for a wide variety of ensembles, artists, and institutions including the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Wiener Philharmoniker, Alarm Will Sound, and Cecilia Bartoli.

Brodsky is also a classical guitarist who has performed as a chamber pianist and viola da gambist (with The Yale Temperament).

We’re extremely excited to be able to welcome Seth as part of our community here this fall.

Best wishes,


Martha Feldman
Mabel Greene Myers Professor of Music and the Humanities
Chair, Department of Music

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