This essay discusses Elfriede Jelinek’s complex relation to music from both historical and theoretical perspectives, with reference to media theory and psychoanalysis. The first part situates her literary musicality relative to German Romanticism and Modernism (Joyce). Literary musicality is inseparable from a poetics of autonomy and self-reference, toward which Jelinek has an ambivalent relation. A passage from Lust is compared with Joyce’s punning technique as analyzed by Lacan, and Freud’s theory of jokes. Finally, Die Klavierspielerin is read to show music’s links with perverse sexuality in the figure of Erika. Jelinek’s complex musicality is in tension with her direct political and feminist engagement.