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Insecure attachment styles are associated with retrospectively reported suicide attempts (SAs). It is not known if attachment styles are prospectively associated with medically documented SAs.
A representative sample of US Army soldiers entering service (n = 21 772) was surveyed and followed via administrative records for their first 48 months of service. Attachment style (secure, preoccupied, fearful, dismissing) was assessed at baseline. Administrative medical records identified SAs. Discrete-time survival analysis examined associations of attachment style with future SA during service, adjusting for time in service, socio-demographics, service-related variables, and mental health diagnosis (MH-Dx). We examined whether associations of attachment style with SA differed based on sex and MH-Dx.
In total, 253 respondents attempted suicide. Endorsed attachment styles included secure (46.8%), preoccupied (9.1%), fearful (15.7%), and dismissing (19.2%). Examined separately, insecure attachment styles were associated with increased odds of SA: preoccupied [OR 2.5 (95% CI 1.7–3.4)], fearful [OR 1.6 (95% CI 1.1–2.3)], dismissing [OR 1.8 (95% CI 1.3–2.6)]. Examining attachment styles simultaneously along with other covariates, preoccupied [OR 1.9 (95% CI 1.4–2.7)] and dismissing [OR 1.7 (95% CI 1.2–2.4)] remained significant. The dismissing attachment and MH-Dx interaction was significant. In stratified analyses, dismissing attachment was associated with SA only among soldiers without MH-Dx. Other interactions were non-significant. Soldiers endorsing any insecure attachment style had elevated SA risk across the first 48 months in service, particularly during the first 12 months.
Insecure attachment styles, particularly preoccupied and dismissing, are associated with increased future SA risk among soldiers. Elevated risk is most substantial during first year of service but persists through the first 48 months. Dismissing attachment may indicate risk specifically among soldiers not identified by the mental healthcare system.
To evaluate random effects of volume (patient days or device days) on healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) and the standardized infection ratio (SIR) used to compare hospitals.
A longitudinal comparison between publicly reported quarterly data (2014–2020) and volume-based random sampling using 4 HAI types: central-line–associated bloodstream infections, catheter-associated urinary tract infections, Clostridioides difficile infections, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infections.
Using 4,268 hospitals with reported SIRs, we examined relationships of SIRs to volume and compared distributions of SIRs and numbers of reported HAIs to the outcomes of simulated random sampling. We included random expectations into SIR calculations to produce a standardized infection score (SIS).
Among hospitals with volumes less than the median, 20%–33% had SIRs of 0, compared to 0.3%–5% for hospitals with volumes higher than the median. Distributions of SIRs were 86%–92% similar to those based on random sampling. Random expectations explained 54%–84% of variation in numbers of HAIs. The use of SIRs led hundreds of hospitals with more infections than either expected at random or predicted by risk-adjusted models to rank better than other hospitals. The SIS mitigated this effect and allowed hospitals of disparate volumes to achieve better scores while decreasing the number of hospitals tied for the best score.
SIRs and numbers of HAIs are strongly influenced by random effects of volume. Mitigating these effects drastically alters rankings for HAI types and may further alter penalty assignments in programs that aim to reduce HAIs and improve quality of care.
Risk of suicide-related behaviors is elevated among military personnel transitioning to civilian life. An earlier report showed that high-risk U.S. Army soldiers could be identified shortly before this transition with a machine learning model that included predictors from administrative systems, self-report surveys, and geospatial data. Based on this result, a Veterans Affairs and Army initiative was launched to evaluate a suicide-prevention intervention for high-risk transitioning soldiers. To make targeting practical, though, a streamlined model and risk calculator were needed that used only a short series of self-report survey questions.
We revised the original model in a sample of n = 8335 observations from the Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Servicemembers-Longitudinal Study (STARRS-LS) who participated in one of three Army STARRS 2011–2014 baseline surveys while in service and in one or more subsequent panel surveys (LS1: 2016–2018, LS2: 2018–2019) after leaving service. We trained ensemble machine learning models with constrained numbers of item-level survey predictors in a 70% training sample. The outcome was self-reported post-transition suicide attempts (SA). The models were validated in the 30% test sample.
Twelve-month post-transition SA prevalence was 1.0% (s.e. = 0.1). The best constrained model, with only 17 predictors, had a test sample ROC-AUC of 0.85 (s.e. = 0.03). The 10–30% of respondents with the highest predicted risk included 44.9–92.5% of 12-month SAs.
An accurate SA risk calculator based on a short self-report survey can target transitioning soldiers shortly before leaving service for intervention to prevent post-transition SA.
Identification of genetic risk factors may inform the prevention and treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This study evaluates the associations of polygenic risk scores (PRS) with patterns of posttraumatic stress symptoms following combat deployment.
US Army soldiers of European ancestry (n = 4900) provided genomic data and ratings of posttraumatic stress symptoms before and after deployment to Afghanistan in 2012. Latent growth mixture modeling was used to model posttraumatic stress symptom trajectories among participants who provided post-deployment data (n = 4353). Multinomial logistic regression models tested independent associations between trajectory membership and PRS for PTSD, major depressive disorder (MDD), schizophrenia, neuroticism, alcohol use disorder, and suicide attempt, controlling for age, sex, ancestry, and exposure to potentially traumatic events, and weighted to account for uncertainty in trajectory classification and missing data.
Participants were classified into low-severity (77.2%), increasing-severity (10.5%), decreasing-severity (8.0%), and high-severity (4.3%) posttraumatic stress symptom trajectories. Standardized PTSD-PRS and MDD-PRS were associated with greater odds of membership in the high-severity v. low-severity trajectory [adjusted odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals, 1.23 (1.06–1.43) and 1.18 (1.02–1.37), respectively] and the increasing-severity v. low-severity trajectory [1.12 (1.01–1.25) and 1.16 (1.04–1.28), respectively]. Additionally, MDD-PRS was associated with greater odds of membership in the decreasing-severity v. low-severity trajectory [1.16 (1.03–1.31)]. No other associations were statistically significant.
Higher polygenic risk for PTSD or MDD is associated with more severe posttraumatic stress symptom trajectories following combat deployment. PRS may help stratify at-risk individuals, enabling more precise targeting of treatment and prevention programs.
Obesity is highly prevalent and disabling, especially in individuals with severe mental illness including bipolar disorders (BD). The brain is a target organ for both obesity and BD. Yet, we do not understand how cortical brain alterations in BD and obesity interact.
We obtained body mass index (BMI) and MRI-derived regional cortical thickness, surface area from 1231 BD and 1601 control individuals from 13 countries within the ENIGMA-BD Working Group. We jointly modeled the statistical effects of BD and BMI on brain structure using mixed effects and tested for interaction and mediation. We also investigated the impact of medications on the BMI-related associations.
BMI and BD additively impacted the structure of many of the same brain regions. Both BMI and BD were negatively associated with cortical thickness, but not surface area. In most regions the number of jointly used psychiatric medication classes remained associated with lower cortical thickness when controlling for BMI. In a single region, fusiform gyrus, about a third of the negative association between number of jointly used psychiatric medications and cortical thickness was mediated by association between the number of medications and higher BMI.
We confirmed consistent associations between higher BMI and lower cortical thickness, but not surface area, across the cerebral mantle, in regions which were also associated with BD. Higher BMI in people with BD indicated more pronounced brain alterations. BMI is important for understanding the neuroanatomical changes in BD and the effects of psychiatric medications on the brain.
Emotion reactivity and risk behaviors (ERRB) are transdiagnostic dimensions associated with suicide attempt (SA). ERRB patterns may identify individuals at increased risk of future SAs.
A representative sample of US Army soldiers entering basic combat training (n = 21 772) was surveyed and followed via administrative records for their first 48 months of service. Latent profile analysis of baseline survey items assessing ERRB dimensions, including emotion reactivity, impulsivity, and risk-taking behaviors, identified distinct response patterns (classes). SAs were identified using administrative medical records. A discrete-time survival framework was used to examine associations of ERRB classes with subsequent SA during the first 48 months of service, adjusting for time in service, socio-demographic and service-related variables, and mental health diagnosis (MH-Dx). We examined whether associations of ERRB classes with SA differed by year of service and for soldiers with and without a MH-Dx.
Of 21 772 respondents (86.2% male, 61.8% White non-Hispanic), 253 made a SA. Four ERRB classes were identified: ‘Indirect Harming’ (8.9% of soldiers), ‘Impulsive’ (19.3%), ‘Risk-Taking’ (16.3%), and ‘Low ERRB’ (55.6%). Compared to Low ERRB, Impulsive [OR 1.8 (95% CI 1.3–2.4)] and Risk-Taking [OR 1.6 (95% CI 1.1–2.2)] had higher odds of SA after adjusting for covariates. The ERRB class and MH-Dx interaction was non-significant. Within each class, SA risk varied across service time.
SA risk within the four identified ERRB classes varied across service time. Impulsive and Risk-Taking soldiers had increased risk of future SA. MH-Dx did not modify these associations, which may therefore help identify risk in those not yet receiving mental healthcare.
Personality traits (e.g. neuroticism) and the social environment predict risk for internalizing disorders and suicidal behavior. Studying these characteristics together and prospectively within a population confronted with high stressor exposure (e.g. U.S. Army soldiers) has not been done, yet could uncover unique and interactive predictive effects that may inform prevention and early intervention efforts.
Five broad personality traits and social network size were assessed via self-administered questionnaires among experienced soldiers preparing for deployment (N = 4645) and new soldiers reporting for basic training (N = 6216). Predictive models examined associations of baseline personality and social network variables with recent distress disorders or suicidal behaviors assessed 3- and 9-months post-deployment and approximately 5 years following enlistment.
Among the personality traits, elevated neuroticism was consistently associated with increased mental health risk following deployment. Small social networks were also associated with increased mental health risk following deployment, beyond the variance accounted for by personality. Limited support was found for social network size moderating the association between personality and mental health outcomes. Small social networks also predicted distress disorders and suicidal behavior 5 years following enlistment, whereas unique effects of personality traits on these more distal outcomes were rare.
Heightened neuroticism and small social networks predict a greater risk for negative mental health sequelae, especially following deployment. Social ties may mitigate adverse impacts of personality traits on psychopathology in some contexts. Early identification and targeted intervention for these distinct, modifiable factors may decrease the risk of distress disorders and suicidal behavior.
The transition from military service to civilian life is a high-risk period for suicide attempts (SAs). Although stressful life events (SLEs) faced by transitioning soldiers are thought to be implicated, systematic prospective evidence is lacking.
Participants in the Army Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Servicemembers (STARRS) completed baseline self-report surveys while on active duty in 2011–2014. Two self-report follow-up Longitudinal Surveys (LS1: 2016–2018; LS2: 2018–2019) were subsequently administered to probability subsamples of these baseline respondents. As detailed in a previous report, a SA risk index based on survey, administrative, and geospatial data collected before separation/deactivation identified 15% of the LS respondents who had separated/deactivated as being high-risk for self-reported post-separation/deactivation SAs. The current report presents an investigation of the extent to which self-reported SLEs occurring in the 12 months before each LS survey might have mediated/modified the association between this SA risk index and post-separation/deactivation SAs.
The 15% of respondents identified as high-risk had a significantly elevated prevalence of some post-separation/deactivation SLEs. In addition, the associations of some SLEs with SAs were significantly stronger among predicted high-risk than lower-risk respondents. Demographic rate decomposition showed that 59.5% (s.e. = 10.2) of the overall association between the predicted high-risk index and subsequent SAs was linked to these SLEs.
It might be possible to prevent a substantial proportion of post-separation/deactivation SAs by providing high-risk soldiers with targeted preventive interventions for exposure/vulnerability to commonly occurring SLEs.
Problematic anger is frequently reported by soldiers who have deployed to combat zones. However, evidence is lacking with respect to how anger changes over a deployment cycle, and which factors prospectively influence change in anger among combat-deployed soldiers.
Reports of problematic anger were obtained from 7298 US Army soldiers who deployed to Afghanistan in 2012. A series of mixed-effects growth models estimated linear trajectories of anger over a period of 1–2 months before deployment to 9 months post-deployment, and evaluated the effects of pre-deployment factors (prior deployments and perceived resilience) on average levels and growth of problematic anger.
A model with random intercepts and slopes provided the best fit, indicating heterogeneity in soldiers' levels and trajectories of anger. First-time deployers reported the lowest anger overall, but the most growth in anger over time. Soldiers with multiple prior deployments displayed the highest anger overall, which remained relatively stable over time. Higher pre-deployment resilience was associated with lower reports of anger, but its protective effect diminished over time. First- and second-time deployers reporting low resilience displayed different anger trajectories (stable v. decreasing, respectively).
Change in anger from pre- to post-deployment varies based on pre-deployment factors. The observed differences in anger trajectories suggest that efforts to detect and reduce problematic anger should be tailored for first-time v. repeat deployers. Ongoing screening is needed even for soldiers reporting high resilience before deployment, as the protective effect of pre-deployment resilience on anger erodes over time.
Studying phenotypic and genetic characteristics of age at onset (AAO) and polarity at onset (PAO) in bipolar disorder can provide new insights into disease pathology and facilitate the development of screening tools.
To examine the genetic architecture of AAO and PAO and their association with bipolar disorder disease characteristics.
Genome-wide association studies (GWASs) and polygenic score (PGS) analyses of AAO (n = 12 977) and PAO (n = 6773) were conducted in patients with bipolar disorder from 34 cohorts and a replication sample (n = 2237). The association of onset with disease characteristics was investigated in two of these cohorts.
Earlier AAO was associated with a higher probability of psychotic symptoms, suicidality, lower educational attainment, not living together and fewer episodes. Depressive onset correlated with suicidality and manic onset correlated with delusions and manic episodes. Systematic differences in AAO between cohorts and continents of origin were observed. This was also reflected in single-nucleotide variant-based heritability estimates, with higher heritabilities for stricter onset definitions. Increased PGS for autism spectrum disorder (β = −0.34 years, s.e. = 0.08), major depression (β = −0.34 years, s.e. = 0.08), schizophrenia (β = −0.39 years, s.e. = 0.08), and educational attainment (β = −0.31 years, s.e. = 0.08) were associated with an earlier AAO. The AAO GWAS identified one significant locus, but this finding did not replicate. Neither GWAS nor PGS analyses yielded significant associations with PAO.
AAO and PAO are associated with indicators of bipolar disorder severity. Individuals with an earlier onset show an increased polygenic liability for a broad spectrum of psychiatric traits. Systematic differences in AAO across cohorts, continents and phenotype definitions introduce significant heterogeneity, affecting analyses.
Definition of disorder subtypes may facilitate precision treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We aimed to identify PTSD subtypes and evaluate their associations with genetic risk factors, types of stress exposures, comorbidity, and course of PTSD.
Data came from a prospective study of three U.S. Army Brigade Combat Teams that deployed to Afghanistan in 2012. Soldiers with probable PTSD (PTSD Checklist for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-Fifth Edition ≥31) at three months postdeployment comprised the sample (N = 423) for latent profile analysis using Gaussian mixture modeling and PTSD symptom ratings as indicators. PTSD profiles were compared on polygenic risk scores (derived from external genomewide association study summary statistics), experiences during deployment, comorbidity at three months postdeployment, and persistence of PTSD at nine months postdeployment.
Latent profile analysis revealed profiles characterized by prominent intrusions, avoidance, and hyperarousal (threat-reactivity profile; n = 129), anhedonia and negative affect (dysphoric profile; n = 195), and high levels of all PTSD symptoms (high-symptom profile; n = 99). The threat-reactivity profile had the most combat exposure and the least comorbidity. The dysphoric profile had the highest polygenic risk for major depression, and more personal life stress and co-occurring major depression than the threat-reactivity profile. The high-symptom profile had the highest rates of concurrent mental disorders and persistence of PTSD.
Genetic and trauma-related factors likely contribute to PTSD heterogeneity, which can be parsed into subtypes that differ in symptom expression, comorbidity, and course. Future studies should evaluate whether PTSD typology modifies treatment response and should clarify distinctions between the dysphoric profile and depressive disorders.
Unit cohesion may protect service member mental health by mitigating effects of combat exposure; however, questions remain about the origins of potential stress-buffering effects. We examined buffering effects associated with two forms of unit cohesion (peer-oriented horizontal cohesion and subordinate-leader vertical cohesion) defined as either individual-level or aggregated unit-level variables.
Longitudinal survey data from US Army soldiers who deployed to Afghanistan in 2012 were analyzed using mixed-effects regression. Models evaluated individual- and unit-level interaction effects of combat exposure and cohesion during deployment on symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and suicidal ideation reported at 3 months post-deployment (model n's = 6684 to 6826). Given the small effective sample size (k = 89), the significance of unit-level interactions was evaluated at a 90% confidence level.
At the individual-level, buffering effects of horizontal cohesion were found for PTSD symptoms [B = −0.11, 95% CI (−0.18 to −0.04), p < 0.01] and depressive symptoms [B = −0.06, 95% CI (−0.10 to −0.01), p < 0.05]; while a buffering effect of vertical cohesion was observed for PTSD symptoms only [B = −0.03, 95% CI (−0.06 to −0.0001), p < 0.05]. At the unit-level, buffering effects of horizontal (but not vertical) cohesion were observed for PTSD symptoms [B = −0.91, 90% CI (−1.70 to −0.11), p = 0.06], depressive symptoms [B = −0.83, 90% CI (−1.24 to −0.41), p < 0.01], and suicidal ideation [B = −0.32, 90% CI (−0.62 to −0.01), p = 0.08].
Policies and interventions that enhance horizontal cohesion may protect combat-exposed units against post-deployment mental health problems. Efforts to support individual soldiers who report low levels of horizontal or vertical cohesion may also yield mental health benefits.
The sources and fate of radiocarbon (14C) in the Dead Sea hypersaline solution are evaluated with 14C measurements in organic debris and primary aragonite collected from exposures of the Holocene Ze’elim Formation. The reservoir age (RA) is defined as the difference between the radiocarbon age of the aragonite at time of its precipitation (representing lakeʼs dissolved inorganic carbon [DIC]) and the age of contemporaneous organic debris (representing atmospheric radiocarbon). Evaluation of the data for the past 6000 yr from Dead Sea sediments reveal that the lakeʼs RA decreased from 2890 yr at 6 cal kyr BP to 2300 yr at present. The RA lies at ~2400 yr during the past 3000 yr, when the lake was characterized by continuous deposition of primary aragonite, which implies a continuous supply of freshwater-bicarbonate into the lake. This process reflects the overall stability of the hydrological-climate conditions in the lakeʼs watershed during the late Holocene where bicarbonate originated from dissolution of the surface cover in the watershed that was transported to the Dead Sea by the freshwater runoff. An excellent correlation (R2=0.98) exists between aragonite ages and contemporaneous organic debris, allowing the estimation of ages of various primary deposits where organic debris are not available.
Whereas genetic susceptibility increases the risk for major depressive disorder (MDD), non-genetic protective factors may mitigate this risk. In a large-scale prospective study of US Army soldiers, we examined whether trait resilience and/or unit cohesion could protect against the onset of MDD following combat deployment, even in soldiers at high polygenic risk.
Data were analyzed from 3079 soldiers of European ancestry assessed before and after their deployment to Afghanistan. Incident MDD was defined as no MDD episode at pre-deployment, followed by a MDD episode following deployment. Polygenic risk scores were constructed from a large-scale genome-wide association study of major depression. We first examined the main effects of the MDD PRS and each protective factor on incident MDD. We then tested the effects of each protective factor on incident MDD across strata of polygenic risk.
Polygenic risk showed a dose–response relationship to depression, such that soldiers at high polygenic risk had greatest odds for incident MDD. Both unit cohesion and trait resilience were prospectively associated with reduced risk for incident MDD. Notably, the protective effect of unit cohesion persisted even in soldiers at highest polygenic risk.
Polygenic risk was associated with new-onset MDD in deployed soldiers. However, unit cohesion – an index of perceived support and morale – was protective against incident MDD even among those at highest genetic risk, and may represent a potent target for promoting resilience in vulnerable soldiers. Findings illustrate the value of combining genomic and environmental data in a prospective design to identify robust protective factors for mental health.
Good education requires student experiences that deliver lessons about practice as well as theory and that encourage students to work for the public good—especially in the operation of democratic institutions (Dewey 1923; Dewy 1938). We report on an evaluation of the pedagogical value of a research project involving 23 colleges and universities across the country. Faculty trained and supervised students who observed polling places in the 2016 General Election. Our findings indicate that this was a valuable learning experience in both the short and long terms. Students found their experiences to be valuable and reported learning generally and specifically related to course material. Postelection, they also felt more knowledgeable about election science topics, voting behavior, and research methods. Students reported interest in participating in similar research in the future, would recommend other students to do so, and expressed interest in more learning and research about the topics central to their experience. Our results suggest that participants appreciated the importance of elections and their study. Collectively, the participating students are engaged and efficacious—essential qualities of citizens in a democracy.
Pascal Dusapin is a French intellectual – he cites the philosopher Gilles Deleuze as a particular inspiration – whose generation (he was born just a few months before Michel Houellebecq) are now to the fore following the death of Pierre Boulez. A student of Xenakis in Paris, he sometimes gives the titles of his works a linguistic quirkiness, as in for example, Ici, Iti, Incisa and Indeed. His comment on Outscape, his second cello concerto, that ‘it's difficult for me to explain my work because the substance of thought is confused with the flow of music’ is – given his musical pedigree and cultural milieu – unsurprising.
Investigations of drinking behavior across military deployment cycles are scarce, and few prospective studies have examined risk factors for post-deployment alcohol misuse.
Prevalence of alcohol misuse was estimated among 4645 US Army soldiers who participated in a longitudinal survey. Assessment occurred 1–2 months before soldiers deployed to Afghanistan in 2012 (T0), upon their return to the USA (T1), 3 months later (T2), and 9 months later (T3). Weights-adjusted logistic regression was used to evaluate associations of hypothesized risk factors with post-deployment incidence and persistence of heavy drinking (HD) (consuming 5 + alcoholic drinks at least 1–2×/week) and alcohol or substance use disorder (AUD/SUD).
Prevalence of past-month HD at T0, T2, and T3 was 23.3% (s.e. = 0.7%), 26.1% (s.e. = 0.8%), and 22.3% (s.e. = 0.7%); corresponding estimates for any binge drinking (BD) were 52.5% (s.e. = 1.0%), 52.5% (s.e. = 1.0%), and 41.3% (s.e. = 0.9%). Greater personal life stress during deployment (e.g., relationship, family, or financial problems) – but not combat stress – was associated with new onset of HD at T2 [per standard score increase: adjusted odds ratio (AOR) = 1.20, 95% CI 1.06–1.35, p = 0.003]; incidence of AUD/SUD at T2 (AOR = 1.54, 95% CI 1.25–1.89, p < 0.0005); and persistence of AUD/SUD at T2 and T3 (AOR = 1.30, 95% CI 1.08–1.56, p = 0.005). Any BD pre-deployment was associated with post-deployment onset of HD (AOR = 3.21, 95% CI 2.57–4.02, p < 0.0005) and AUD/SUD (AOR = 1.85, 95% CI 1.27–2.70, p = 0.001).
Alcohol misuse is common during the months preceding and following deployment. Timely intervention aimed at alleviating/managing personal stressors or curbing risky drinking might reduce risk of alcohol-related problems post-deployment.
(England gave me birth, France taught me, Sicily Cherished me; to it finally I gave my body and bones.)
From the mid-twelfth to the end of the thirteenth century the five reigning queens of England were Eleanor of Aquitaine, Berengaria of Navarre, Isabella of Angouleme, Eleanor of Provence and Eleanor of Castile.
Since the conference invites a double-crossing between nations and disciplines, France/England; History/Literature, I want first to raise a number of theoretical questions regarding ways of understanding place and the nation specifically as they pertain to England in the twelfth and early thirteenth centuries. I will then consider two kinds of illustrative material, one literary and the other more properly historical. The questions under discussion here are for me inescapably inflected by our own current geopolitical circumstances in which whatever the nation is or signifies is, if not in a state of utter emergency, then certainly under great stress among the designs of cross-border and non-state actors, internal questions of governmentality and the all-pervasive contemporary triumph of global capital.
In the twelfth century we can find in both secular and theological realms of thought a set of strictly speaking imaginary constructions that have had important consequences for the whole course of the historiography of state formation or nation building. Their common property is that they serve to provide a material embodiment for an ideal or symbolic entity. For example, the genealogical reduction of Continental families into a male bloodline and the corollary emergence of varieties of social coercion, such as primogeniture, to guarantee the concentration of property create a nexus of time, space and land based on blood, where blood is conceived as a material entity handed in an orderly succession from one generation to the next. Similarly, the debate over the nature of the Eucharist is resolved in the assertion that it is the real presence as well as its sign, just as the miracle working body of the high-medieval saint, whose sanctity consists almost entirely in the fact that the post-mortem body works miracles, becomes both the sign of redemption and its means. What unites these examples is their imaginary materiality.
Julian Anderson has been interestingly public about the genesis of his new orchestral piece Incantesimi, co-commissioned by the Royal Philharmonic Society, Berliner Philharmoniker Foundation and Boston Symphony Orchestra, writing about its genesis in The Guardian as a trailer to its UK Proms premiere. Premiered by the Berlin Philharmonic under Simon Rattle in June 2016, Incantesimi toured to Rotterdam and Lucerne before opening that orchestra's Prom (Rattle's last as their chief conductor) in September. Wanting not to write a ‘showpiece’ but instead ‘something slow and quiet’, Anderson described Incantesimi as a ‘nocturne’ which takes its musical inspiration from Mozart's Jupiter Symphony, in that five themes are deployed ‘in perpetual orbit’. He also spoke of his focus on the Berlin Philharmonic's beauty of sound as a prompt to write something that would unfold slowly.
Jörg Widmann is a German composer who is acutely conscious but certainly not in awe of his musical forebears. His best-known string quartet, no. 3 ‘The Hunt’ makes dramatic use of – and has great fun with – Schumann. His 2011 concerto Flûte en suite, performed at the 2014 Proms, more than nods to Bach and baroque elegance. In Armonica, commissioned by the International Mozarteum Foundation to celebrate Mozart's 251st birthday in 2007, Widmann surprisingly and yet unsurprisingly features the glass harmonica, the distinctive instrument that Mozart featured in his own last chamber piece, the Adagio and Rondo for glass harmonica, flute, oboe, viola and cello, K617. Mozart teamed the instrument with the quieter representatives from the wind and string families; Widmann places it against the whole orchestra.