Seth Brodsky


Assistant Professor of Music and the Humanities in the College; Affiliated Faculty, Department of Visual Arts and Germanic Studies


Ph.D., Eastman School of Music, 2007


Office: GoH 405
Phone: (773) 702-5909

Areas of Specialization:

20th and 21st-century music; modernisms; influence and intertextuality; music and philosophy; critical theory; psychoanalysis

Seth Brodsky's scholarly and critical work pursues two related lines of inquiry. The first concerns music of the 20th and 21st centuries, in particular the field of “composerly production”, with all the openness this connotes: how is “the composer” constructed, and how does she function culturally, discursively, technologically, mythically? Brodsky’s second line of inquiry involves the role of unconscious processes—particularly as figured in psychoanalytic discourse—in the making and experiencing of music. Here he is especially interested in musical influence and intertextuality—the “locus of the other”—in the work of living, recently deceased, or frequently resurrected composers. How, for instance, do contemporary composers fantasize and shepherd their affiliations with their musical past and precursors, and what role does the psychoanalytic unconsciously play in these fantasies? 


  • Fail Better: Listening for Utopia in Postwar European Composition (University of California Press, forthcoming 2016)
  • with Rob Haskins and David Nicholls, eds., Each Is at the Center: Essays for the Centenary of John Cage (Northwestern University Press, forthcoming 2015).

Selected Articles:

  • “‘We remain responsible for everything’: Rihm/Tonality/Psychosis/Modernity”, in Tonalität seit 1950 (Steiner Verlag, forthcoming 2015)
  • “Are Sounds Just Sounds or Are They Cage? Five Writings Around Cage’s Influence on Contemporary Composers”, in Each Is at the Center: Essays for the Centenary of John Cage (Northwestern University Press, forthcoming 2015)
  • “Return of the Repressed, Return of the Real. Staging New Music in 1989” (manuscript in preparation)
  • “Britten as Another. Six Notes on a Mystic Writing Pad”, in Great Shakespeareans, Vol. 11: Berlioz, Verdi, Wagner, Britten, ed. Daniel Albright, Continuum Press 2012), 158-203
  • “This was not meant for you”, in Arturo Herrera/David Schutter, Collages & Drawings, 10 September—9 October 2010 (Tony Wight Gallery, Chicago 2010), 13-16.
  • “‘… write the moment …’: Two Ways of Dealing With Wolfgang Rihm 1”, in The Musical Times 145 (Autumn 2004), 57-71