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Stefan Wolpe and the Avant-Garde Diaspora

Stefan Wolpe and the Avant-Garde Diaspora

$119.00 (C)

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Part of New Perspectives in Music History and Criticism

  • Date Published: November 2012
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107003002

$ 119.00 (C)

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About the Authors
  • The German-Jewish émigré composer Stefan Wolpe was a vital figure in the history of modernism, with affiliations ranging from the Bauhaus, Berlin agitprop and the kibbutz movement to bebop, Abstract Expressionism and Black Mountain College. This is the first full-length study of this often overlooked composer, launched from the standpoint of the mass migrations that have defined recent times. Drawing on over 2000 pages of unpublished documents, Cohen explores how avant-garde communities across three continents adapted to situations of extreme cultural and physical dislocation. A conjurer of unexpected cultural connections, Wolpe serves as an entry-point to the utopian art worlds of Weimar-era Germany, pacifist movements in 1930s Palestine and vibrant art and music scenes in early Cold War America. The book takes advantage of Wolpe's role as a mediator, bringing together perspectives from music scholarship, art history, comparative literature, postcolonial studies and recent theories of cosmopolitanism and diaspora.

    • Argues the historical importance of Stefan Wolpe as a mediator of avant-gardes, drawing upon a wide range of previously unpublished primary sources
    • Brings musicology and modernism studies into dialogue with recent theories of diaspora, migration and cosmopolitanism
    • Addresses the musical poetics of individual compositions, but avoids overly technical musical analyses
    Read more


    • Winner, 2013 Lewis Lockwood Award, American Musicological Society

    Reviews & endorsements

    "The importance of this well-researched book on German-born composer Stefan Wolpe lies as much in descriptions of milieux as in its treatment of Wolpe and his music … The book compares favorably with extant Wolpe scholarship … It will be required reading for scholars of twentieth-century music."

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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2012
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107003002
    • length: 340 pages
    • dimensions: 252 x 180 x 24 mm
    • weight: 0.79kg
    • contains: 10 b/w illus. 14 music examples
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Wolpe's self-revelatory poetics and critical reflections, circa 1951
    2. Weimar-era montage and avant-garde community
    3. 'Amalgamated' musics and national visions in 1930s Palestine
    4. The mid-century poetics and politics of experimental community
    Epilogue: the witnessing memory
    Select bibliography.

  • Author

    Brigid Cohen, New York University
    Brigid Cohen is Assistant Professor of Music at New York University. Her teaching and research focus on twentieth-century avant-gardes, questions of migration and diaspora, theories of cosmopolitanism and relationships between music, the visual arts and literature. Her work has been recognized with awards from the American Musicological Society, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Paul Sacher Foundation and the J. Paul Getty Research Institute. She is a recipient of the Berlin Prize from the American Academy in Berlin.


    • Winner, 2013 Lewis Lockwood Award, American Musicological Society

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