Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Hostname: page-component-77c89778f8-fv566 Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-07-18T09:12:07.642Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Introduction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 March 2023

Get access

Summary

And should it ever happen that a history of nineteenth-century music opened with the remark, "On 20 February 1791 Carl Czerny was born," this would involve less the transmission of a fact than an announcement that a roundabout and tortuous argument was about to begin in ex post facto justification of such an obviously grotesque placing of emphasis.

Carl Dahlhaus, Foundations of Music History

Carl Dahlhaus's brief mention may seem a singularly inauspicious way to begin a volume of essays devoted to Czerny. And yet, his choice of Carl Czerny to lead off a self-evidently preposterous approach to the history of nineteenth-century music neatly reveals Czerny's paradoxical situation in the received history of European music. Dahlhaus's strategy is clear enough: in order to demonstrate the rhetorical practices implicit in music-historical narrative, he places an icon of insignificance in the rhetorically crucial opening position of an imagined history. Just to make certain that there would be no mistaking this strategy, he preceded his turn to Czerny by another music-historical fact, one whose status as significant is to be understood as unimpeachable: "On 19 October 1814 Franz Schubert composed his 'Gretchen am Spinnrade.' " Czerny, then, serves as a foil, simultaneously representing historical inadequacy and warning against illconceived attempts by historians to engage in "obviously grotesque" revisionism. Not just any mediocrity, however, would do in this position. In order for the reference to succeed, Dahlhaus needed more than an obscure name; he needed a name that was familiar enough to represent obscurity. And to do so, whether in a sudden burst of inspiration or after prolonged reflection, an inspired choice- Carl Czerny-came to mind.

Why did Czerny work so effectively in this role? First, his name accomplishes something that few others in the history of classical music would: recognition not only by scholars of the Kleinmeister of the period, but by virtually everyone with more than a passing familiarity with that musical tradition-but that familiarity is not based on any reputation as a great composer. So firmly established and enduring was Czerny's name that early in the twentieth century, Willa Cather could also use it as a kind of self-evident shorthand, albeit of a more positive sort.

Type
Chapter
Information
Beyond The Art of Finger Dexterity
Reassessing Carl Czerny
, pp. 1 - 10
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2008

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

  • Introduction
  • Edited by David Gramit
  • Book: Beyond <i>The Art of Finger Dexterity</i>
  • Online publication: 10 March 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781580467179.002
Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

  • Introduction
  • Edited by David Gramit
  • Book: Beyond <i>The Art of Finger Dexterity</i>
  • Online publication: 10 March 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781580467179.002
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Introduction
  • Edited by David Gramit
  • Book: Beyond <i>The Art of Finger Dexterity</i>
  • Online publication: 10 March 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781580467179.002
Available formats
×