The grotesque is one of art’s most puzzling figures – transgressive, comprising an unresolveable hybrid, generally focussing on the human body, full of hyperbole, and ultimately semantically deeply puzzling. In Bluebeard’s Castle (1911), The Wooden Prince (1916/17), The Miraculous Mandarin (1919/24, rev. 1931) and Cantata Profana (1930), BartÃ³k engaged scenarios featuring either overtly grotesque bodies or closely related transformations and violations of the body. In a number of instrumental works he also overtly engaged grotesque satirical strategies, sometimes – as in Two Portraits: ‘Ideal’ and ‘Grotesque’ – indicating this in the title. In this book, Julie Brown argues that BartÃ³k’s concerns with stylistic hybridity (high-low, East-West, tonal-atonal-modal), the body, and the grotesque are inter-connected. While BartÃ³k developed each interest in highly individual ways, and did so separately to a considerable extent, the three concerns remained conceptually interlinked. All three were thoroughly implicated in cultural constructions of the Modern during the period in which BartÃ³k was composing.
‘This volume is a valuable contribution to the literature that provides thought-provoking material for future research, especially regarding the interpretation of bodily meanings. … Julie Brown has opened up a hugely fascinating area of musical modernism that remains largely unexplored.’ –Music and Letters
About the Author
Julie Brown is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Music at Royal Holloway, University of London, UK.