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Durham University



Publication details for Dr Patrick Zuk

Zuk, Patrick (2018). Music as post-traumatic discourse: Nikolay Myaskovsky’s Sixth Symphony. Arts & Humanities in Higher Education 17(1): 104-118.

Author(s) from Durham


This essay explores ways in which musicologists might extend work undertaken by humanities scholars in the interdisciplinary field of trauma studies that has highlighted the centrality of traumatic experience to modernist creativity. It is focussed around a case study of a musical composition that represents the emotional aftermath of a traumatic event, the Sixth Symphony of the Soviet composer Nikolay Myaskovsky (1923). A central concern is to demonstrate how the symphony’s musical symbolism is strikingly evocative of typical features of post-traumatic mentation, such as dissociation and emotional numbing, and the inhibition of the ability to mourn. It closes by considering the potential implications of the findings for understanding work by other modernist composers.