Fugal composition has traditionally been taken as 'a sign of order and tradition' (Chapin, 2014). In the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, it was normally associated with cosmic order, in keeping with the concept of the harmony of the spheres, and it later came to represent social order (Chua, 1999). In this article I argue that in a variety of early twentieth-century manifestations, fugue came to represent chaos rather than order, maintaining both cosmic and social interpretations. Drawing from music by Milhaud, Schoenberg, Stravinsky, and Toch, and paintings and writings by Kandinsky, Ball, and Huxley, I demonstrate how the early twentieth-century fugue frequently served as a metaphor for chaos as a redemptive or generating force. In later commentaries, many of these manifestations were later misinterpreted or misrepresented in terms of the metaphor fugue-as-order.


Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.