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From Psychology to Music: Keller via Freud Author(s): Christopher Wintle Source: The Musical Times, Vol.

From Psychology to Music: Keller via Freud Author(s): Christopher Wintle Source: The Musical Times, Vol. 144, No. 1884 (Autumn, 2003), pp. 7-13

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From

psychology

Keller via

CHRISTOPHER WINTLE

to

music

Freud

traces the indebtedness of

the eminent emigre critic to the fatherof psychoanalysis

IT IS OFTEN ASKED, what has music to do

with psychology - or more particularly with psychoanalysis, its Freudian branch? One of the earliest and most trenchant answers

came in 1922 from Carl Jung, father of analytical

and a notable Freudian apostate. Ba-

psychology

sically, his reply was, 'very little'. 'Only that aspect of art,' he wrote, 'which consists in the process of artistic creation can be a subject of psychological study, but not that which constitutes its essential

nature.'l The 'process of artistic creation' could be observed in two kinds of artists, the extraverted and the introverted, which he equated with Schiller's 'naive' and 'sentimental' kinds: their job

was to throw up symbols that tap deeply and

inexplicably into the experiences

culture - that is to say, to engage with its 'collect-

ive unconscious'. Of course, works could be probed for symptoms of their creator's pathology; but this was a distraction, and the results in any case would be merely reductive and uncover the same sexual and familial problems that face us all:

and heritage of a

'if a work of art is explained in the same way as a neurosis, then either the work of art is a neurosis, or a neurosis is a work of art.' Artists, moreover, were at their best as vessels for communication, as

visionaries possessed by a 'divine frenzy' inimical

to cognition, and as mere players in the larger process of 'self-regulation in the life of nations and epochs'. All this had nothing whatever to do with

the merely conscious sation of art, even -

a

drama was overtly 'psychological'.2 The 'essential

nature' of art, on the other hand, belonged

simply to 'aesthetics'. In post-war British music, as we know, Jung's views have ruled the roost. Michael Tippett's operas turned Mozart's trials of Tamino into ritu-

als of 'individuation', and Robert Donington dis-

into the

solved Wagner's musical transformations

(or preconscious)

and

especially

-

organi-

when

quite

mythic symbols of The ring before turning to

opera in general.3 Indeed, Jungian 'archetypes' - that is to say, recurrent 'primordial' or 'mythic' images thrown up by creative fantasy - still stand behind the work of, for example, Harrison Birt- wistle and Jonathan Harvey: in Birtwistle's Punch

and Judy (1965-68) Punch is the 'archetype', and

Harvey's Inquest of love (1993) includes a 'Hermes' type, the 'Psychopomp'. The role of Jung in the

thought

quires a separate study. So where does this leave the Freudians?

Davies, moreover, re-

of Peter Maxwell

S

question

the

of

FAR AS

most

them,

British

raises

Keller

music

goes,

a paradox.

a paradox.

and best

the

For

itself

articulate

Hans

known

is,

(1919-85),

psychoanalytically, the least understood - that is, until now. Keller fled Vienna for London in 1938,

shortly after the Kristallnacht, when he had been 'imprisoned, robbed, starved, and beaten up the

Gestapo'.4 For the rest of his

London. (In fact, one of the first houses he lived in, 32 Herne Hill, had been designed around 1937

by his father, Fritz Keller, in conjunction with Rudi Koempfner of Vienna University and later All Souls, Oxford. Koempner was the brother of Keller's cousin, Inge Trott.) For about twelve years he worked as a freelance writer and fiddle-player, before emerging in the early 1950s as a powerful

scourge

Britten.6 It was only later, in 1959, that he famous-

ly joined

increasingly turbulent years.7 Although he pub-

lished prolifically on music

life he

stayed

in

of critics5 and a champion

of Benjamin

the BBC, where he remained for twenty

from

about

1947,

most of his papers from the early 1940s were unpublished, and hence unknown. This work is nothing if not voluminous. The papers were dis- covered soon after his death in 1985, sorted into

preliminary bundles and acquired by Cambridge University Library in the mid-1990s. They were then catalogued by a specially appointed archivist, Alison Garnham, and after a period of digestion, edited by the present writer in 2002. Finally they were printed in June 2003 with a grant from the Jewish Music Institute (SOAS, London) using funds from the National Lottery. What is import- ant and startling about this work is that it reveals

for the first time the scale and character of Keller's involvement with psychoanalysis. In British music this was unique.

of

material:

along

The work

(1)

with

basically

first

views

comprises

to

three types

British

reactions

culture,

and

on topical Jewish,

sexual

THE

MUSICAL

TIMES

/ AUTUMN

2003

A new collection of

writings by the late Hans Keller, Music

and psychology:from

Viennato

London,

1939-52, edited by

Christopher Wintle,

is published by Plumbago Books at ?20. MT readers may obtain a copy for ?15 by contacting <plumbago@ btinternet.com>.

Notes

1.

CG Jung: 'On the

relation of analytic psychology to poetry' (1922), trans. RFC Hull in

The spirit in man, art and religion (1967)

(London: Routledge,

2001), p.76.

2. For example,

Kurt Weill's Lady in

the dark (1941).

3. Robert Doning-

ton:

andits

Wagner'Ring

symbols

(London: Faber & Faber, 1963),

and Opera andits symbols (New

Haven & London:

Yale, 1992).

4. Hans Keller:

Musicand

logy:from Viennato London 1939-52, ed.

Christopher Wintle

(London: Plumbago,

2003), p.xi.

5. Music Survey:

new series,1949-52,

edd. Donald Mitchell & Hans Keller (London:

Faber, 1981).

6. Benjamin Britten:

a commentary on his worksfrom a

psycho-

7

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Hans Keller in 1948 (Milein Cosman). g r o u p of specialists, edd. Donald

Hans Keller in 1948 (Milein Cosman).

group of specialists, edd. Donald Mitchell & Hans Keller (London:

Rockliff, 1952).

7. See Alison

Garnham: Hans Keller and the BBC

(London: Ashgate,

2003).

8. Keller: 1975: 1984

minus 9 (London:

Dobson, 1977).

9. Keller (2003),

p.197. Schoenberg thought in the same way: 'One day', he wrote, 'the children's children of the psychologists and psychoanalysts will have deciphered the language of music.'

(Arnold Schoenberg:

political questions; (2) extensive work with an older British sociologist, MargaretPhillips, on the small social and military groups that sprang up over England following the outbreak of war:

Keller interpretedPhillips'sfindings according to his fluent understanding of mid-century psycho- analysis; and (3) a transferof such understanding to music, largelyprecipitatedby hearingBenjamin Britten'sPeter Grimesfor the first time in 1946:

Keller investigated composers, players, listeners, aesthetics, film music, creative character and

genius, as well as everydaydealings with teachers, operamanagement and broadcasters.In particular there are psychological studies of Britten'sAlbert Herring, The rapeof Lucretia, The little sweep and above all Peter Grimes.For this last, indeed, he lavished praise on Peter Pears, the first, 'unsur- passable', Grimes.There are also some stories, an OscarWilde-like play on Britishantisemitismand a host of aphorisms. What all this adds up to in

Music

and psychology is not merely a novel col-

8

THE

MUSICAL

TIMES

/ AUTUMN

2003

lection of cross-disciplinary writings (Freud was famously unmusical), but a demonstration of

their backgrounds in contemporary sociology and psychology underpinned by Keller's political and cultural views. The mixed presentation would have been unfashionable a quarter of a century

ago; but now, in our age of critical theory, it is essential. Indeed, it is the same format Keller adopted for his 1975.8

To

return,

then,

to

our

opening

question.

Keller's 'answer' comes in a lecture to the British

Psychological Society of 1950:

It is psychoanalysis in particular that is destined, in my considered conviction, to get the psycho- logy of music out of its present embryonic state by shedding light on the psychology, not only of the composing process, but of the actualelements of musical structureand texture.9

That his expectations exceeded Jung's would not have concerned him: he might even have sym-

pathised with Edward Glover, the distinguished Freudian, in describing the 'collective unconscious'

also

note similarities. Keller, like Jung, believed that 'an artist needn't know what he has to say as long as he says it';" he would have recognised how close Freud came to Jung in seeing myths as 'dis- torted vestiges of the wishful phantasies of whole nations, the secular dreams of youthful human- ity;l2 and, as a connoisseur of 'creative character', he might have savoured Jung's individualistic re- mark that 'a secret connection does exist between the heroics of the Nibelungs and a certain patho-

as 'transcendental spinach'.10 Yet we should

logical effeminacy in the man Wagner', notwith- standing the rider that this tells us nothing about

'the work itself'.13

WE

SHALLEXPLOREthese issues

in due course. But for now let us return to the BPS lecture of 1950 and Keller's remarks on the 'com-

posing process'. 'Musical self-contempt

begins

known to him.14 These he calls Brown and White.

In Brown's music he can find no trace of anything English; but he does find Austro-German tech-

niques. When he points

lights up as if he were being praised 'in the most

on the other hand,

glowing

Keller finds at least one work that is 'so quint-

in Britain'

with

a report on

two British composers

this out, Brown's face

terms.' With White,

essentially

English

as to be quite unexportable';

yet White

also proudly claims that he is 'not an

English composer'. Keller concludes that 'White's

contempt of musical Englishness must carry a greater amount of in-turned aggression than Brown's.' Fuelled by the sobriquet 'das Land ohne Musik' - the country without music - Keller then trans- fers his inquiry to listeners and critics, and

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especially to those who 'resist'Britten. Although (the provocatively named) Britten is English in

preferring vocal

to avoid sonata form, his 'crime'in their eyes is to presume 'up to Gustav Mahler's symphonic station'. At this point Keller makes his first ap- pearance in his own witness box. For as both an Austrian and a naturalised Briton he is keenly aware of cultural differences (the Germans are 'sentimental', he writes, the British 'naive')15and finds himself caught up in the 'artisticconflict'. Even more, it was not just musicians that had

prompted his inquiry: he had already noted 'self- contempt' as a social characteristic beforelooking at it culturally. He writes:

A group is dominated by another group in

to instrumentalmusic and tends

superior position: women

Gentiles,prostitutesby society, and so forth. The dominated group inevitably feels the dominating

group to be in loco parentis. The members

dominated group thus projectpart of what might loosely be called their common superego [their

internal moralisingagency] onto the dominating group. As a result, the dominated people turn

part of

can't

releasetowardthe dominatinggroup back against

their own group.16

by men, Jews by

of the

the aggression that they would, but

This topic is centralto Kellerand continues on from Freud'sobservationthat group - or crowd - membership - encourages its members to regress to a primitive dependence upon an omnipotent

'his' ideals. Freud writes: 'the object

'parent' and

[the person of the leader] has been put in the place of the ego ideal' since 'the leader of the

group is still the dreaded primalfather; the group still wishes to be governedby unrestricted force; it has an extreme passion for authority.'17 Keller's groups, moreover, were not chosen at random: they are what might be expected of an emigre from the Vienna of Freud and Otto Wein-

inger

work

'Male psychology'(1946), was an originalattempt to distinguish between the sexes without discri- minatingagainst eitherof them, even if it fell short of positing outright 'female self-contempt'. Al- though he related Jewish 'self-contempt' to his experiences with the Gestapo, he was sufficiently objective about the dynamics involved as to be able to transferhis findings. For when in 1947 he proposed a study of Jews to the British Journalof

Medical Psychology, the editor, John Rickman, re-

plied: 'papers almost exclusively devoted to anti- Semitismwould not readily be absorbed by read- ers because there have been quite a lot of them and they areall much the same'.18So Kellerturned to the self-contempt of prostitutes. At the time, of course, the whore was a powerful icon. Keller himself wrote on Sartre'sThe respectable prostitute in a film-music essay from 1954 and would surely

(author of Sexandcharacter (1903)). Yethis was still striking. His first formal article, on

?; Seite 10. ZEITSP1EGEL Ni4 43 HANS KELLER: Roda Roda im Schonend, weil in Kuerze
?;
Seite 10.
ZEITSP1EGEL
Ni4 43
HANS
KELLER:
Roda
Roda
im
Schonend,
weil
in
Kuerze
.
Weltkrieg
Die
entsteht aus der Erkennt-
Trigheit
Nur sich selbst darf;man unterordnen,
nis
unheilvollen
des
nur einen Anderen- iberordnen.
Der
in
der
Roda Roda erzihlt von der Ostfront
Weltkrieg:
Ergebnisse
mit dem Kommnandanten
eigenen Fleisses.
Unlust,
sich
"Ich stand
Faulheit
ist
selbst uiberordnet, ist dem Unter-
des K.u.K. X. Korps aufdem Hauptplatz
etwas zu
gestalten, Trigheit ist Unlust,
geordneten unterlegen.
in Mes6labortz.
etwas zu verderben.
Nur
Mut:
Es
mehr
zog
voruber durch den Schnee:
Da
ein furchtbarer Gansemarsch
gibt
reuige
Das
Gewissen
mahnt,
das
Gesetz
abgehirmte
Sunder als gefallene Heilige.
Bosnier mit
zerrissenen,
brettsteif
ge-
droht.
der
Pedant
verliert
seinen
frorenen
Manteln-ein
endloser
Auch
Zug
Pessimist ist
der,
der anderen eine
Federhalter. Aber
immer dort, wo er.
des Elends.
Grube
grub und
sich wundert, dass er
ihn aufzufinden wunscht.
Der
eine hatte sich
nicht selbst
hineingefallen
ist.
Optimist
Zuckerpapiergewickelt
ist der,
der anderen eine Grube
grub
Der
auf das Gewehr
wie
die Waden in
und stitzte sictr
auf eine Krucke.
Gemeinplatz von heute ist der
und
sich wundert, dass er selbst hin-
Witz von
Der andere stiitzte sich auf einen Ast
vorgestern.
Manche erkannten
eingefallen
ist.
Pessimismus.und
Op-
ihn schon
und
die leblosen Beine hinter sich
vorgestern als Gemeinplatz.
zog
timismus haben dies gemeinsam: immer
her.
Der
Dritte
den
trug
Kopf
ein-
das Verkehrtevorauszusehen.
Theater
oder
waren Ohr
und
Nas'
Lichtspieltheater:
gebunden-ihm
Dinge,
die
im
lebendigen
Verkehr
erfroren;
er f_ihrte
einen Kameraden:
Zuweilen erweist es sich als nitzlich,
offene Turen einzurennen: damit auch
alle merken, dass sie offenstehen.
-*
zwischen Menschen verstanden werden,
dem brannte vor Frost das Kreuz.
ohne
Ich
gesprochen
werden
wollte
weinen.
"Die Armen"
zu mussen,
werden auf der Buehne dem
ich "wohin gehen sie, Exzellenz?
Zuhorer,
sprach
und daher nicht
Wie weit ins
zuliebe-gesprochen
Spital?"
Es
ist
nicht
leicht,
der
Intoleranz
verstanden. Das Unwahrscheinliche der
Darauf der Kommandant:
zu
gegenuber tolerant
sein.
kommt nicht von der Un-
Das sind 600
Mann,
meine
Handlung
"Sp;tal?
wirklichkeit der
linke
Sie rucken retab-
Vorgange, sondern von
Fligeldivision.
Der
Gleichmutige
bildet
sich
ein,
der
Wirklichkeit des
Zuhorers, dem
liert an die Front."
ist
langmutig
zu sein.
Langmutig aber
gleichsam
Tellnahme an der
Handlung
nur
der
Geduldige,
und
geduldig nur
gestattet
wird.
der, der die Ungeduld kennt.
Um den 1. Dezember rollte endlich
deutsche Hilfe an fir das osterreichische
Heer: die 47. Reservedivision, 20,000
Gott behite
uns vor einem Verfol-
* Feuergewehre.
gungswahnsinnigen, der verfolgt wird.
Damals
las ich auf dem
Bahnwagen
eines suddeutschen Transports die stolze
Der Phantastsieht die Dinge,
wie sie
Kreideaufschrift:
nicht sind und niemals sein
k6nnten.
"Russland muss badisch werden."
Der Dichter sieht die
Dinge,
wie sie
nicht sind und' immer sein
k6nnten.
-
Nicht-Vorhandenes traumt
in die
KOMMT
DIE
SPIEL-
jener
DieseWoche
IN
UND
TANZGRUPPEI
Ereignisse;
Nicht-Vorhandenes
liest
Wir treffe
uns jeden Dornnerstagund
Freitag
dieser
aus
den
Ereignissen.
Beide
abends ab 1/2 8 Uhr
im TheatersaaL
Alle. die
AUSTRIAN "CENTRE,
PADDINGTON,
verachten den
Schein,
doch
nur der
sich dafir interessieren,
sind
herzlichst
ein-
126, Westbourne
Terrace,
W.2.
Wir brauchen noch eine ganze Anzahl
Dichter weiss von der Wirklichkeit des
Tel.
Pad. 8321.
geladen.
von
Leuten,
nicht nur Schauspieler
und Tinzer,
25.
Nicht Erschienenen.
Oktober,
6.30 p.m.
kann
aondemrauch technische
Hilfskrafte. Jeder
amstae, Redaeur
osef Kalmer:
im Femen Osten?
'
Virtuosentum: Je
lich.-DieSpielgruppenleitung.
Samsta.
Krieg oder Friede
-
p.m.:
dabei mittun. besonderes Talent ist nicht erforder-
geringer
die Aus-
1. Noenber.
6.30
Armee Alfed -
Reisen-
drucksfahigkeit, desto
starker die Sucht
Leutnant der spanischen
auer :-Der
spanishe
Volskrieg'
nach-
Mannigfaltigkit
der -Ausdrucks-'
. SEKRETARIATSSTUNDEN-
' Sonntag, 2. November,
6.30 p.m:
0
Montag von
Uhr abends an in
mittel-
Ilubzimmer .
. ?
\
"DieVetriebenen,"
das kInstlernsche Schaffn
des
Hostels,
132,
Westboum
Terrace,
W2.
der Enmiratioro Vorlesunr au de.
Gedichtband
Der
Kleinliche im
Geist-findet
im
.
"Die Vertriebenen"m'und andermn. Musik,
'
-:
:
.:
Roman
was . er im
nationale Tanz- und Spielgruppen-
--
verehrungswurdig,
VERSAMMLUN-G
DER
JUEDISCH-POL-
Leben verabscheuungswindig fande.
AUSTRIAN;
CENTRE
NISCHEN
EMIGRATION
aus -
Frankrech
132, -
Westbourne
Rerra.
W.2.
und
Belgien
Ohne
Mozart
hatte
man
niernals
Mittwochklub-
.
Mittwoch,
den 29. Oktober um 7.30
p.m.:.
Sonntag, 26.
Oktober,
1941, 3 Uhr:
gewusst,
waseine
Oper ist, ohne Wagner
Frauenversammlung:
Die
osterricischen
5,
Arundel
Gardes.
Kensington
W.II.
hatte
man niemals
gewusst, was
eine
Fruen
und
die
Rsslandhilfe.'
Es
sprech -
englische und oterrichische
Frauen
Mozartoper ist.
26. Oktober,
1941. 3 Uhr:
Sonntag.
AUSTRIAN
CENTRE,
SWISS
COTTAGE,
"Die
Aufgaben
der
jdisch-polnischen
Emi-
69;
Eton
Avenue,
N.W3.
gration
im
apfe
gegen
I.
Hidtler."
Redner:
'
DRUCKARBEITEN
Tel; r.-PRL 5207.
Der
bekannte Dichter
Manger.
Dienstag,
28.
Oktobie,
7.30-paL
Kavierkonzertt.
Edith
VogeL -
Proam
--
Bach:
Tocxata;
Shui
ann
Du
Andere
Deutschland
Etude
Spricht.'
Syn-
leder Art. Preiswert. Rasch
RICHARD MADLEY LTD.
Schubert
Sonate a
Redner:
Karl Holtermann,
Oberst
Hans:
phoniiqu;
oll, Moderato,
-
Grays-
Andanto,
Kahle,
Hans r. Rehfisdc. Holbomn Hall
Schenzb Rndo.-
Inn Road W.C.1-
LATERNDL.
(Die Druckgneidieser Zeitschrit)
N.W3.
' - Zu
nten
Hitler
Fund"
des
69. Eton Avenue.
des.'Fight
TeL :
PRI. 3207
Zeitspiegels
8
Novenber
in: der
Holborn Hall,
T nrITZRo COURr,, TOTmNHAM:COURT RD.
Roue:o
Latera
MaeiO
Reie iMartin Mfller
GrayIn
n Road,
W.C.,
1/2.6-Uhr.-
Taoifest
Spieltap.:
Donnerstag
ur
Freitag
um 7 Uhr,
'Vieon
calliog."
ErstklasilageJazzband kinst-
LONDON, W :
Telephoif
EUStSot0l4a
Simstasg
um
-und'
laeisch
p.
iBQg
prooramm,Wien
und;.toatg o' i :a.i
.530 M
.
w.hai
- :s.
ZEioto
31,6.216,
/16,
Eitnto.93a"s t-

'Shielding you with brevity':

Zeitspiegel (25 October 1941).

aphorisms by Hans Keller from the emigre journal

have known of Glover's monograph on The psycho- pathologyofprostitution from 1945. His own find- ings, too, arenow there to read.19Yethe remained keenly aware of the oedipal component of self- contempt in general and how the fears involved could unite different groups:'Probablygroup self- contempt is favoured by the castration complex, especially by the female or quasi-female (Jewish) one,' he wrote.20This awareness - of the fatherwho threatens the vita sexualis of the child - in turn derivedfrom Freud, who said of Otto Weininger's combined antisemitism and misogyny: 'Being

a neurotic, Weininger was completely under the sway of his infantile complexes; and from that standpoint what is common to Jews and women is their relationto the castration complex'.21 Thus, as Jung noted, the origins of Keller's 'groupself-contempt'lay in Freud's perception of sexuality,gender and family dynamics, and these origins applied as much to British music as to women, Jews or prostitutes. However, Kelleralso matched this platonic in- quiry with an historical one of a kind. The domi-

'Human rights'

in Style and

idea, ed. Leonard

Stein (London:

Faber & Faber, 1975), p.511).

10. Edward Glover:

Freud orJung? (London: Alien & Unwin, 1950), p.173. Keller owned this book. See also:

Hans Keller: Jung:

Man and Myth by Vincent Brome', in Spectator 241/7845 (11 November 1978), pp.19-20.

(1947),

11. Keller (2003),

p.18.

12. Sigmund

Freud: 'Creative

writers and

daydreaming'

in

Standardedition 9,

(1908),

THE

MUSICAL

TIMES

/ AUTUMN

2003

9

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The

Hans Kellert

 

Time &

Editor,

Tide.

 

30

Herne

S E.24.

Hill,

 

16.2.46.

 
 

Peter

Pears'

Peter

Grimes.

 

Sir:

I

am suggesting

in

another

place

that

Pears

is

among the

greatest

living

reproductive

artists,

and

I

will

add here

that

his

Grimes

is

unsurpassable.

The invalidity

of

your

critic's

objections

to

Pears' rendering

becomes

probable

(if

such

circuitous

considerations

are

really

needed)

when one

realizes

that Britten

himself

must

have

been

considerably

 

stimulated

by

the

wealth

of

creative

powers

inherent

in

Pears'

original

musical

personality.

 

Your

critic

mentions

that

the

opera

is

durch-

komponiert,

One is

bound

to

add that,

regarding

 

artistic

continuity,

it

is

durchgesungen by Pears.

An unbroken

is

line

of

development

inevitably

runs

leading

peace,

a listener

here

are

throughout

to

"

the

not

et

Grime's

his interpretation,

docissimo

which

the

work will

"What harbour

offered

in

shelters

seq.

knowing

last

a way that

that

understand

words.

Against

this

the

question

whether

Pears

"sounded

 

-2-

tired"

is

of

somewhat

minor

importance.

 

I

am,

 

Sir,

 

'tours

faithfully,

 

Hans Keller,

30 Herne

S.E.24.

Hill,

Typescript letter by Hans Keller from 1946 (Reproducedby permission of the Syndics of the CambridgeUniversity Library).

pp.141-53;

reprinted in

Sigmund Freud:

Art and literature (London: Penguin, 1985), p.140.

13.

CGJung:

'Psychology and literature' (1930), in

Jung (1967/2001),

p.101.

14. Keller (2003),

pp.197-209.

15. Keller (2003),

pp.3-6.

16. Keller (2003),

p.200.

17. Sigmund Freud:

Group psychology and the analysis of the ego (1922), trans. James

Strachey (London:

Hogarth, 1967), pp.45 and 59. Keller also

acknowledged

JC Flugel:

10

nating 'group' in Britishmusic was, of course, the 'oldAustro-Germantradition'of Haydn to Brahms (not forgettingMendelssohn), with an extension to Mahler, Strauss, Pfitzner and Schmidt: thus 'dead' composers dominated the living. (In 1950 the new dodecaphonic group headed by Schoen- berg was still 'persecuted' ratherthan 'persecuting'.) The traditioncame into being as a result of 'three interrelatedfactors':

First, the foreign dominationof

prior to the rise of the classical sonata;second,

the relationof English musical

thinking to the

thoughtprocessesrequired for the creationof a

sonata form; and third, thestateof English music

itself during the 18thand 19th centuries.22

musical England

That is to say,foreign domination dated from the time of Charles II; the English were better at im- promptu solutions than long-term planning; and English music was in such a poor state by the middle of the nineteenth century that its com- posers not only concurred with Austro-German contempt by 'studying in Germany', but reacted against it with their own (national) renascence. Thus group self-contempt went hand in hand

THE MUSICAL

TIMES / AUTUMN

2003

with group self-love, and especially that aspect of it that tried to 'externalise'its altruistic tenden- cies. For its ideals, the self-love returned to the

(and ideals can

'golden age'

be leadersas much as people): hence the vocal cha- racter of mid-twentieth-century English music. Another component was folk-song, since 'German folk-songs are usually bad; British folk-songs are usually good'.23 What Keller knowingly advances is, of course, 'psycho-genetic' hypothesis more than proven 'fact':no composer in 1875 appears to, or need have declared self-contempt. From this point of view, Keller stands close to the 'phylogenesis' of Jung.24Indeed,psychogeneticism comes to the fore in Keller'sdiscussion of Elgar.If, as Wilfrid Mel- lers suggests, Elgar 'is the culmination of a [Bri- tish] symphonic tradition that never happened', then Elgar's'psychicreality' - to use Freud'sterm- is more significant than any 'factual reality'. (The point is crucialforcreative theory:composers often invent their epiphanies retroactively or falsify theirdebt to 'professionalparent(s)'.) This kind of psychic reality,moreover, is logical and straight- forward by contrast with that of dreams, which

of Tudor polyphony

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positively needs psychoanalysis to unscramblethe 'displacement of affects'. Keller likewise ascribes

the eighteenth-century models behind the music

of Alan Rawsthorne -

Corelli, say, or Bach -

to a

determinationto 'makeamends' for 'the failureof

early eighteenth-century Britishmusic to attain a

stability expiation by a 'son' for the shortcoming of a collective 'father'.25 Keller ended his talk by predicting a 'reverse spectacle: Austrian group self-contempt with the renascent English traditionas dominatinggroup'.26

But has this happened? Hardly - though this is not the fault of Brittenwho had it both ways: his

the international

operas have earnedtheir place in

repertoryby evincing an 'un-English', Strauss-like ability to conceive and pace works as a whole; at the same time they invented (or re-invented) English Opera as if they too were 'the culmination of a traditionthat never happened'. The tradition, moreover, reconciled the family quarrel between Italy (Verdi)and Austria (Berg and Mahler), while embracing Stravinsky, exoticism and much else besides. Nor did Britten fail to acknowledge his Englishnessby adducing a new 'father'- Purcell- while retaining 'old' folk-song (Owen Wingrave). Keller could not have foreseen that the 'domi- nated' Schoenberg School would become in Bri-

tain, Europe and Americaa 'dominatinggroup' in

a two-edged sense. Its admittedly idealistic aim, to remint the Austro-German tradition, was as we know castigatedby post-war composers and ana- lysts (Boulez, say, or Babbitt), who preferred the new dodecaphonic wine to the old lyric, dramatic and symphonic bottles. Its composers, that is to

say, were father figures - in Webern'scase a rather small one - simultaneously admittedand destroy- ed. So much so that only now, when new leaders

have emerged, is

memberof the Viennacirclein a realisticaesthetic

of

instrumental

architecture' -

an

it possible

to situate each

environment.27

But where, in the post-war situation, was the undisputedleadership? The times sawwhat Ernest Jones called a 'reversalof generations'dynamic:28 the sons became the fathers'fathers.Once the ge- neration of Boulez, Berio and (even) Cage had thrown down the gauntlet of a 'traditionof the new', few of the 'traditionof the old', fromMessi- aen to Stravinsky and beyond, could resist the call of the young. Once again, theirmusic perpetuated the condemned traditions whilst absorbing the creativeresistancesto them: this tension certainly provided the context of Britten'slater music. A furthercase of reversalfinds an older and revered

'father' - Stravinsky - preying upon - or, as Keller put it, 'devouring' - the subjects and manner of an

envied 'son',Britten, who for his part dreamedof the 'castrator'as a 'monumental hunchback,point-

a passage in the Cello write thatbar!".'29

Symphony:

ing with quiveringfinger at

'

"howdare you

Sibling-theorysuggests that a brotheror sister

a kind. In other words,

when a young composer is more influenced by a

member of his peer group than by his teacher, as

is often the case, 'leadership'passes froma music-

al 'father'to a musical 'brother'.In the 1950s, in-

fluence within and between groups of 'siblings' - in Paris, Darmstadt or Manchester - was at its height. Yetthe influence has sometimes stuck. At

may also act as a parent of

London, for example, said that even at the

age of seventy he was aware that Pierre Boulez

a recent pre-concert talk in Alexander Goehr (b.1932)

(b. 1925) - an 'older brother' -'might

not like this

bar'.(In Goehr'scase paternity is compounded by the influence of a real father, Walter Goehr, whose professional and historical fathers (Schoenberg and Monteverdi) also became his; nor is this to

mention other fathers,say, RichardHall or Hanns

Eisler, or even his 'musical uncle', Keller.)30

In our modern ('post-post-war')European situ- ation, we might think that British musical-self-

contempt belonged wrote (italics added):

to history. Keller himself

Britishmusical group formation itself, as distinct from musical creativity,may again weaken or cease, owing partly to the internationalising in- fluence of groupself-contempt itself and partly to the wider development of musical history. In that case we would come to be confronted with the dialectical process of groupself-contemptmaking for its own dissolution.31

But is

this

true? Does

internationalism -

Europe, the West, a confluence of Eastand West- really dissolve a sense of origins? Does inter- nationalism not foster regionalism, with all the self-contempt and self-love that that involves (as

we see in, say, international tennis)? Harrison Birtwistle may describe himself as 'not British' and may have found an early epiphany in Robert Craft's recording of Boulez's Le marteau sans maitre,32but he is perceived as such on the Conti- nent, draws on Britishdramaticsources (Gawain, Punchand Judy) and is feted by our national in-

stitutions- the opera houses, the Proms, and even

the opening of the Tate Modern. Similarly, Peter

Maxwell

Petrassi, drawn heavily on the German expres- sionists, created a new paternity in medieval music (like Webern) and turned to the 'absolute forms'of the Austro-Germantradition (symphony, concerto and quartet); but he has also written an opera on Taverner,songs for a British'Mad King' (George), retraced Vaughan Williams's steps to the Antarctic, and been deeply absorbedinto the fabricof musical life in England, Scotlandand the Orkneys. Nor is this to mention the relation of George Benjamin to France, Oliver Knussen to America, or Judith Weir to the exotic. Such cases, rather, confirm what Keller said of Alan Rawsthorne, that 'British group self-

Davies may have 'studied in Italy' with

THE

MUSICAL

TIMES

/ AUTUMN

2003

Men, moralsand

society (London:

Duckworth, 1945).

18. Keller (2003),

p.93.

19. See: 'Prostitutes

wear marriage-

rings', in

Keller

(2003), pp.83-94.

20. Keller (2003),

p.92.

21. Sigmund Freud:

'Analysis of a phobia in a five-year-old boy', in Collected

papers 3 (London:

Hogarth Press,

1925), p.179.

22. Keller (2003),

p.203.

23. Keller (2003),

p.207.

24. In his

writing on 'creative character' Keller also differentiates between the 'extra-historical and

typological', as in his comparison of 'Britten and Mozart' of 1946, and the 'historical', as in his essay on 'Mozart and Boccherini' of 1947. See Keller (2003), pp.164 and

176.

25. Keller (2003),

p.208.

26. Keller (2003),

p.206.

27. See:

Christopher Wintle:

'Webern's lyric character', in Webern studies, ed. Kathryn Bailey (Cambridge:

Cambridge UP,

1996).

28. Ernest Jones:

'The phantasy of the reversal

of generations',

in Papers on psychoanalysis,

fifth edition (1948) (London: Maresfield

Reprints, 1977),

pp.407-12.

29. See Michael

Kennedy: Britten

(Master Musicians

Series) (London:

Dent, 1981).

30. Alexander

Goehr: 'Hans Keller, a memoir', in Music

11

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Analysis 5/2-3

(1986), p.330.

31. Keller (2003),

p.207.

32. Private

communication.

33. Keller (2003),

p.207.

34. WilfredR.

Bion: Attention and interpretation (1970)

(London:Karnac,

1993), p.82.

35. Private

communication.

36. 'Stephen Pruslin

and Harrison

Birtwistle discussing

their Punch and Judy

(1965-68)'

(18

November 1997), in

IAMSAnnual Report

(King'sCollege

London, October

1998), pp.7-11.

37. Private

communication.

38. Hugh

'MatyasSeiber', in

Wood:

The new Grove

vol.17, p.110.

39.

fictions', in AS Byatt

'Dreamsand

&

Ignes Sodre:

Imagining characters:

six conversations about women writers

(London: Vintage,

1995), p.230.

40. Sigmund Freud:

'Psychopathic characterson the stage', in

Standardedition 7,

pp.309-10.

41. Keller (2003),

pp.121-46.

42. Keller (2003),

pp.74-79.

43. Keller (2003),

p.123.

44. Keller

pp.130-31.

45.

(2003),

(2003),

Keller

p.136.

46.

Keller (2003),

p.136.

47.

p.138.

48.

Keller (2003),

Keller

(2003),

p.138.

49.

Keller

(2003),

p.125.

50. Keller (2003),

pp.229-32.

12

contempt has not only an obviously harmful, but also a highly beneficial aspect'.33 The benefits, moreover,requireauthority to turn self-contempt to advantage. As the psychoanalyst WilfredBion remarked:the function of the group is to produce

a genius; the function of the Establishmentis to

take up and absorb the consequences so that the

group is not destroyed.'34 In other words, both the aggression and its targets have to be protected. This is especially the case when a composer who is 'not British'is re- cast by the group as 'British'.In 1950, for example, Brittenwas still a 'closet gay' who had been denied the opportunity of 'studying in Austria' with Alban Berg but nevertheless associated with the voices of liberal conscience, socialism and paci-

fism- WH Auden,MontaguSlater, Michael Tippett

and Pears. For other members of the composing group, however, he came to represent 'Establish-

ment' itself, and 'Aldeburgh' the Heartof England.

Birtwistlerecounts arriving for

ance of William Walton'sTroilusand Cressida (a work whose ostentatious heterosexuality challen-

ged the 'gay' sadism of, say,BillyBudd) in the hope of finding 'anything but Britten'.35His own operas duly eschewedBritten'scentral ingredient('psycho- logy') and reinvented tradition anew: 'Although Punch and Judy was written after the operas it

refers to, it

Even Tippett defined himself by opposition. He bewailed the fact thatBrittenhad the commandof

Covent Garden yet only wanted to

drama'and rigorously eschewed the genre.37 The aggression was even moreacuteas members

of the 'dominatinggroup' could already be found in Britain as a result of emigration.Why 'study abroad'when 'abroad'could already be studied at 'home'?Of various teachers,including Goehr, the Hungarian-bornMatyas Seiber (1905-60) 'created'

a generation of composers some of whom also

became teachers- Don Banks, Peter RacineFric-

ker,Anthony

feels as if it is the source of them all.'36

an early