Schubert – the Strange and the Supernatural: Exploring Nineteenth Century Fantasy Aesthetic and Its Expression in Schubert’s Music


This study aims to comprehend better the culture surrounding Romantic aesthetics of fantasy and the uncanny during the nineteenth century (c.1800-1890) and evaluate how their expression in Schubert’s music can be understood. Initially, it will examine philosophical writings (Chander 2015) artwork (Crane 2013; Dunekacke 2016) and literature (Geistfeld 2015; Smajic 2003) of the period, combining this examination with academic literature (McRae Arnoss 1996; Trumball 1905) to explore why and how ideas around fantasy and the uncanny were spreading through European culture and taking on extra significance. After explaining why Schubert is the choice of subject for this study, it will apply these findings to hermeneutic musical perspectives of Schubert’s music, providing insight into the relationship between aesthetic theory, cultural practice and analytic theory. Firstly, the literary perspective, connected to the supernatural, poetic and Romantic notions of imagination (Adorno 1928; Brittan 2017; Brown 2009; Young 2011) followed by, the psychoanalytic perspective, connected to psychological theories and ideas surround the ‘Other’, Hidden Strange and Unfamiliar (Lalonde 2017; Klein 2009; Kramer 1991; Kramer 1998; Smith 2010; Tarrant 2015). Repertoire explored with these perspectives will include Schubert’s Octet, Der Wanderer, Erlkönig, Frühlingstraum, Gretchen am Spinnrade, Ganymed, Symphony in C major and more. The findings will draw conclusions about how fantasy and the uncanny in Schubert’s music can be best understood and analysed. Finally, it will suggest how these findings may benefit other areas of scholarship and be developed in future research around these topics.

Author Information
Niamh Gibbs, University of West London, United Kingdom

Paper Information
Conference: IICAH2023
Stream: Arts - Arts Theory and Criticism

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon