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The blind singer and the absent composer

A Prior #10 / Dirk Pültau

© Ana Torfs, Zyklus von Kleinigkeiten (1998) film still

On music and interdisciplinarianism in two works by Ana Torfs

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In Kritik des Musikanten, an essay directed against the cult of spontaneous singing and music making in post-war music circles, Adorno recalls a painful anecdote from his youth. He tells of how his father, while out walking in the forest with his mother and sister, asked the two women to sing the song O Täler weit, o Höhen (Oh valleys wide, oh mountains high). The women were overcome with embarrassment, not because someone had expressly asked them to sing – as professional singers they were well used to that –, but because father Wiesengrund asked them to sing spontaneously, to pretend that the surroundings had prompted them to sing as if it was the most natural thing in the world. How wonderful the world is, sing a song! Being asked to sing ‘spontaneously’, as if the notes ‘tickle’ within and then bubble up and burst forth, that request paralyzes…