So when we’re historians of music, are we engaged in an “Over the Top”-style arm wrestle with another kind of autonomy? Between the historian and the musician/composer/music? Who gets the autonomy?
Schoenberg says: “I discovered something, I’m not founding a school. All I found is that tonality has a life of its own, it goes its own way, nobody can control it. The material has its own tendency, so I need autonomy to be beholden to a process that is beyond me.”
Then a historian comes around and says, “No, this is fantasy, power dynamics, hegemony of German music, bound up in racial and ethnic history of the 19th century; Schoenberg is a Jew and his position/desire is to assimilate, and his personality as an iconoclast is important….. And I know these things because I discovered the material itself, it’s there, it has a tendency to tell the story by itself, I can’t help it, i’m beholden to a process beyond me…. “