Universal Instruments: Music, Technology, and Modernism in the Weimar Republic


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




This dissertation is a historical study of the role of new instruments in the development of musical modernism in Weimar Republic Germany (1919-1933). Combining an examination of primary source documents with theoretical perspectives drawn from historical musicology and technology studies, the work consists of three studies of particular instrumental technologies, and examines how each embodies tensions between aesthetic ideals and material realities. The study also explores how new instruments related to broad shifts in cultural attitudes accompanying the emergence of electrical technologies in the first decades of the century. On the basis of this research, further conclusions are offered concerning the larger question of the relationship between technology and art in twentieth century culture.