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10/25/2018 Vertical Thoughts: Feldman, Judaism, and the Open Aesthetic: Contemporary Music Review: Vol 32, No 6

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Journal
Contemporary Music Review 
Volume 32, 2013 - Issue 6: For Morton Feldman

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Original Articles

Vertical Thoughts: Feldman, Judaism,


and the Open Aesthetic
Benjamin R. Levy 
Pages 571-588 | Published online: 24 Feb 2014

 Download citation  https://doi.org/10.1080/07494467.2014.882549

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Abstract

While Morton Feldman acknowledged his Jewish faith as an important part of his
identity, his religion has received relatively little attention as a source of his artistic
sensibilities. The in uence of Judaism can be seen clearly in many of Feldman's
works from 1963, including the series Vertical Thoughts and Rabbi Akiba. Sketches
held at the Paul Sacher Foundation connect these pieces through the use of a
common text originating in the Talmud. The idiosyncratic obscuring of the text in
these pieces points to an intentional esotericism, while features of the instrumental
writing in these works parallel the treatment of text and methods of questioning
discussed by scholars of Jewish mysticism and Talmudic exegesis. The obsessive
recasting of minute di erences suggests a search for nuances of meaning and
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/07494467.2014.882549?journalCode=gcmr20 1/3
ecast g o
10/25/2018
ute Vertical
d eThoughts:
e ces suggests a sea c o ua ces o ea g a d
Feldman, Judaism, and the Open Aesthetic: Contemporary Music Review: Vol 32, No 6

produces a timeless and meditative atmosphere, often mentioned in Feldman


criticism, but rarely connected to Judaism explicitly.

Keywords: Judaism (Jewish), Talmud, Mysticism, Vertical Thoughts, Rabbi Akiba, Instrumentation


(Timbre), Shadow

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https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/07494467.2014.882549?journalCode=gcmr20 2/3
10/25/2018 Vertical Thoughts: Feldman, Judaism, and the Open Aesthetic: Contemporary Music Review: Vol 32, No 6
Contemporary Music Review
Volume 32, 2013 - Issue 6

Published online: 14 Mar 2014

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https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/07494467.2014.882549?journalCode=gcmr20 3/3