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Nietzsche's OrphansMusic, Metaphysics, and the Twilight of the Russian Empire$
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Rebecca Mitchell

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780300208894

Published to University Press Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300208894.001.0001

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date: 16 July 2018

Sergei Rachmaninoff: The Unwilling Orpheus

Sergei Rachmaninoff: The Unwilling Orpheus

(p.137) 4 Sergei Rachmaninoff: The Unwilling Orpheus
Nietzsche's Orphans

Rebecca Mitchell

Yale University Press

This chapter explores the contradictory impact of musical metaphysics when applied to a composer who eschewed the philosophical interpretations that Nietzsche’s orphans sought to ascribe to his creative output. Despite attempts by admirers to garb him in the attire of a prophet, particularly by his admirer, the poet Marietta Shaginian, Rachmaninoff himself struggled against such definitions. At the same time, the general popularity of the composer’s music, together with the pessimistic emotion and celebration of toska (melancholy) perceived in his works, worried many of Nietzsche’s orphans, who feared that his music was symptomatic of the decline of modernity rather than of music’s power to overcome such problems.

Keywords:   Rachmaninoff, emotion, modernity, toska, Shaginian

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