Seth Brodsky Appointed Assistant Professor of Music

Assistant Professor Seth Brodsky comes to us after five years of teaching at Yale.  He received his BA at Lake Forest College and his PhD at Eastman (2007).  As a scholar, teacher, and critic, his work focuses on problems of musical intertextuality, particularly in the work of living, recently deceased, or frequently resurrected composers. Brodsky is especially interested in how contemporary composers fantasize and shepherd their affiliations with the musical past, both consciously and unconsciously, work that his taken him into new kinds of psychoanalytic studies, and for new reasons.

Previously Seth has taught seminars 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; on music and melancholy charting the double history of melancholy and its influence on Western music from the Middle Ages through the present day; and seminars on composing at the turn of the millennium, examining  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.”

He is on leave this fall completing a book called Fail Better: Listening for Utopia in Postwar European Composition, 1961-2001 that unites these themes while exploring 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 extended essay for Continuum’s Great Shakespeareans series on Benjamin Britten’s borrowing practices; an article (in preparation) on Berio, Berg, and Celan; and an examination of postwar European music as an endeavor in alternative memorial, not only to the aesthetic utopias of modernism’s past, but also to the last century’s genocides and art’s complicity therein.

Brodsky has also 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 Cecelia Bartoli.

In 2005-2006 Brodsky was one of the Humboldt Foundation’s German Chancellor Scholars and has been awarded fellowships from Deutsche Akademische Austausch Dienst, the Paul Sacher Foundation, and the Yale Center for Media & Instructional Innovation for the construction of an interactive multimedia database engaging the recent history of musical composition with some of the more sophisticated and flexible web-based technologies available.  The last is being transferred and enhanced at Chicago.

Seth has already joined the Advisory Board of the new Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry, has been key in retooling Music 101, which he’ll teach in the Common Core this winter along with his own seminar. He is  also a faculty sponsor of the new Music History/Theory workshop.  He is living in Andersonville with his delightful wife Jude Stewart, a journalist and book author.

Brodsky notes on his website bio the following: “has also suppressed/repressed years as a classical guitarist (for practicing guitarists, see my esteemed colleagues Steven Rings and Lawrence Zbikowski) into a deepening affair with another six-stringed, fourths-tuned, proto-nylon, fretted instrument, and can be heard now and again scratching out Dowland’s plangent tetrachords.”

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