Hans Keller:
Music and Psychology:
From Vienna to London 1939-52

edited by Christopher Wintle (with Alison Garnham)
London, Plumbago, 2003

Published with support from the Jewish Music Institute, SOAS, University of London (Millennium Award Scheme funded by the National Lottery)

Buy online at Boydell & Brewer:
Paperback (£19.99 / $37.95) or Hardback (£40 / $80)

For three or four decades after the Second World War, musical thinking in Britain was dominated by psychology. Yet, there has never been an account of exactly what this entailed. Among the earliest of the musical Freudians was Hans Keller (1919-85), an émigré from Vienna who later became a charismatic figure at the BBC and a trenchant commentator on a host of issues (including football). He arrived in London soon after the Kristallnacht of 1938, and from then until 1952 (a watershed year in his development as a critic) he collaborated with leading sociologists and psychoanalysts in studies of politics, society, gender and sex. He also devised new ways of writing about music, inspired by a love for chamber music and the operas of Benjamin Britten (notably Peter Grimes, The Rape of Lucretia, The Little Sweep and Albert Herring).

The fruit of Keller’s activity forms the subject of this book, the first thorough and informed exploration of how a psychoanalytical musical criticism may be grounded in individual and small-group psychology. For his case studies, Keller drew on composers, performers, listeners and critics; and for his general topics he turned to opera, film music, creative character, genius, aesthetics and issues of everyday musical life. The writing is impressive for the novelty of its approach, the power of its insights, and the communicative clarity of its prose. The book includes a large selection of aphorisms and closes with two stories and a one-act play on British anti-Semitism. Most of the writings appear here in print for the first time and are drawn from papers held in the Hans Keller Archive at the University Library in Cambridge

Hans Keller’s other books include 1975 – 1984 minus 9 (Dobson, 1977), The Great Haydn Quartets (Dent, 1986), Criticism (Faber, 1987) and Functional Analysis: The Unity of Contrasting Themes (edited by Gerold Gruber, Peter Lang, 2001). With his wife and artist Milein Cosman he collaborated on Stravinsky at Rehearsal (Dobson, 1962) and Stravinsky Seen and Heard (Toccata, 1982).

Christopher Wintle (Editor) teaches music at King’s College London and compiled a ‘Hans Keller Memorial Symposium’ for Music Analysis in 1986. He also edited Keller’s Essays on Music for Cambridge University Press in 1994 and The Jerusalem Diary. Music, Society and Politics, 1977 and 1979 (with Fiona Williams) for Plumbago Books in 2001.

Alison Garnham (Assistant Editor) is formerly an archivist at the Cambridge University Library and author of Hans Keller and the BBC (Ashgate, 2002).

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