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Publication details for Dr Sarah Collins

Collins, Sarah (2015). The Composer as ‘Good European’ Musical Modernism, Amor fati and the Cosmopolitanism of Frederick Delius. Twentieth-Century Music 12(1): 97-123.

Author(s) from Durham


This article argues that early twentieth-century debates about both musical modernism and the idea of Europe were conditioned by prevailing attitudes towards autonomy. It will challenge the current rendering of modernist autonomy as depoliticized by showing how the attribution of ‘cosmopolitan’ characteristics to the music and persona of Frederick Delius indicated both an absence of affiliation and a definitive marker of Englishness. Underpinning this argument is the idea that attending to the dialectical interplay between independence and cooperation in the notion of ‘rooted cosmopolitanism’ can offer a model for a renewed conception of autonomy and commitment in musical modernism. Delius’s devotion to the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche, and Nietzsche's own analysis of European nihilism, will act as the backdrop to this discussion and help to suggest how both ‘Europe’ and musical modernism can be understood – via the notion of cosmopolitanism – as dispositions extending beyond their conventional geographical and historical demarcations.