A Symbolist Interpretation of Narrative Time in Debussy's Sonata for Flute, Viola, and Harp

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2018-05

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Abstract

This essay offers a narrative reading of Debussy’s Sonata for Flute, Viola and Harp underpinned by the characteristic symbolist motto that portrays a subject’s desire to escape modernity through the artistic evocation of an idealized past. My examination explores those symbolist concepts that inspired this specific interpretation of the Sonata and documents the symbolist influence on Debussy’s unique aesthetic vision, with particular regard to the artistic affinity between Debussy and the referential symbolist poet Stéphane Mallarmé (1842-1898). Since the proposed narrative scheme has many affinities with the theory of the “three machines of time” conceived by the French philosopher and pshychiatrist Gilles Deleuze (1925-1995) the fundaments of his theories are briefly summarized and applied to my music analysis, following the example set by the work of Michael L. Klein.

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Keywords

Debussy, Sonata for Flute, Viola, Harp, Musical symbolism, Music, Mallarmé, Narrative, Klein, Michael L., Deleuze, Gilles, Musical Time

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