Recent links of note:

“A Great Deaf Bear”
James Wood, London Review of Books

In an 1810 review of the Fifth Symphony, E. T. A. Hoffmann wrote of how Beethoven’s music “sets in motion the machinery of awe, of fear, of terror, of pain and awakens . . . the essence of Romanticism.” In one fell swoop, Hoffmann inaugurated Beethoven as the first Romantic composer and reoriented the teleology of instrumental music, establishing a mode of exegesis that remains an important part of listening to and understanding music to this day. In an article for the London Review of Books, James Wood probes at the entanglement of biography, emotion, and art—or our perception of such—in Beethoven’s music and in the modern discipline of music criticism that follows in the footsteps of Hoffmann’s declaration.

“A lost paradise of purity”
Jonathan Gaisman, Standpoint

Franz Schubert (1797–1828), the most promising of Beethoven’s immediate successors, did much to exemplify this entanglement as well, at times more overtly. Much of his music is unquestionably death-haunted, and for good reason: stricken, likely, with syphilis, Schubert outlived his hero, whom he attended on his deathbed, by only a year. A favorite English professor of mine used to teach his class the meaning of motifs and symbolism—in literature and music—by sitting them down to listen to Schubert’s “Death and the Maiden” quartet. “There it is!” he would shout when the music came to the passage in the second movement in which the dread tones of the “Dies Irae” lie hidden—“Et in Arcadia, ego.”

“Dynamic Balance”
Ann Landi, The Wall Street Journal

Stieglitz and O’Keefe, Rivera and Kahlo: longevity and amiability are hardly the hallmarks of most well-known artist couples. Yet Anni and Josef Albers were an exception to the rule, a husband and wife united in shared temperament, careers, and interests (including the culture and art of Mexico). Read on for Ann Landi’s review in The Wall Street Journal of Nicholas Fox Weber’s new, extensive volume on the life and art of that “equal and unequal” pair (a recent pick from Andrew L. Shea for our Critic’s Notebook).

Podcasts:

“Roger Kimball introduces the January issue.”A new podcast from the Editor and Publisher of The New Criterion.

Dispatch:

“Mernet Larsen at James Cohan,” by Mario Naves. On the artist’s exhibition in Tribeca.

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