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Introduction: Musicking Stevens

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The Poetic Music of Wallace Stevens

Part of the book series: Palgrave Studies in Music and Literature ((PASTMULI))

Abstract

The Introduction provides an overview of the scope of the project and a concise description of the content of the following chapters. We reflect first on the term “musicking” to explain how we intend to connect Wallace Stevens and music. We discuss music not as ornament or metaphor for poetry, but rather as a dynamic art, a sensuous and imaginary experience of process, and an aesthetic vision in Stevens’s poetry as well as in our own critical responses to the poetry. The Introduction divides into four sections, the first of which outlines our aims and theoretical considerations; the second presents Stevens as a listener of art music on the basis of his record collection; the third explains the compositional principles that we have applied as coauthors and offers an overview of the chapters; and the fourth expresses our wish to revitalize ways of thinking and writing about the two arts in conjunction.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    For further discussion of the most important facts and figures about Stevens’s relation to music, see especially Stegman; Goldfarb, “Music”; and Holmes.

  2. 2.

    A quick search through the online archives of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra tells us that this must have been the concert in Hartford on November 26, 1954, conducted by the orchestra’s chief conductor at the time, Eduard van Beinum. The entire program must have been to Stevens’s liking, with Debussy’s Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune, Rudolf Escher’s Musique pour l’esprit en deuil, Haydn’s Symphony No. 103, and Stravinsky’s 1909 suite compiled from his ballet The Firebird. Stevens was an admirer of van Beinum; when the dissertation-writing Bernard Heringman made notes of a conversation he had with the poet, they included the following: “He was quite enthusiastic about Bruckner. He raved about the van Beinum recording of Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony. He was emphatic enough that I made a note about the specific recording. He told me to be sure and listen to it” (Brazeau 200).

  3. 3.

    According to the Berlin Philharmonic’s website, this was the orchestra’s first tour in the United States under the young Herbert von Karajan, who had been elected its new conductor a few months earlier.

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Correspondence to Bart Eeckhout .

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Eeckhout, B., Goldfarb, L. (2022). Introduction: Musicking Stevens. In: The Poetic Music of Wallace Stevens. Palgrave Studies in Music and Literature. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-07032-7_1

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