The Twilight of Virtuosity: French Exotic Aesthetic in the works of Pablo de Sarasate and others.
Abstract The Twilight of Virtuosity: French Exotic Aesthetic in the works of Pablo de Sarasate and others.
By Thomas Ryan Bedggood At the turn of the Twentieth Century, epochal social and cultural change was sweeping Europe and her colonies. This change affected all aspects of life, including the music industry. New values, including those stressing authenticity and nationalism, all came to bear on the individuals who performed and created music; in some cases, this made these individuals figures for public exoneration and canonization long after their passing. In other cases, however, quite the opposite came to pass, and they have been buried from the modern view.
In this thesis, I argue that Pablo de Sarasate personified both musical authenticity and nationalistic culture. Combining a mixture of performative creativity and charisma, Sarasate presented an engaging stage experience that combined cultural elements, sensuality, and virtuosic technique, which has influenced the value system we use in violin works and performance ever since. Whilst this combination was incredibly effective, I argue that these same features made Sarasate a prime target for subsequent dismissal and opposition in his time and posthumously as he represented an antithesis to the competing Germano-Romantic musical ideals and social norms of the time. I seek to address the hole that has been left in both the contextual understanding of musicological discourse from this era (particularly regarding Sarasate), and the analytical efforts to date considering the works he wrote and influenced. I employ historically informed musicology not just to describe Sarasate’s works and compositional devices and influence on the violin canon, but to also understand these influences more fully in the environment they would have evolved in. I hope to present the beginnings of a more complete picture of Sarasate, reflecting the far-ranging continued impacts of the Hispanic virtuoso on music.