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Discordant Unities: Viennese Urbanism and its Effects on the Organizational Principles behind Architecture and Music from 1890 to 1938
During his time as an IFK fellow, Ross Lipton will be studying the interplay between architecture and compositional practices in fin-de-siècle Vienna. In 1858, Vienna’s urban fabric was transformed when Emperor Franz Joseph mandated ancient city walls razed to enable the construction of the Ringstraße. Lipton will examine the contrasting city plans for Vienna by Otto Wagner and Camillo Sitte, their respectively rationalist and humanist ideologies, and the way in which they both stem from divergent interpretations of Richard Wagner’s Gesamtkunstwerk. His research will then focus on the correspondences between two thinkers whose work can be seen as a reaction to this altered urban landscape—architect Adolf Loos and composer Arnold Schoenberg. By studying building plans, musical scores, letters, and pedagogical texts, Lipton’s research explores the interplay between the spatial practices in Loos’s Raumplan and the compositional methods employed in Schoenberg’s atonal, dodecaphonic music.
Ross Lipton is a doctoral candidate in Comparative Literature at SUNY Binghamton. He earned his Master’s degree at the University of Pennsylvania. His most recent publication is an article for „Footprint: Delft Architecture Theory Journal“ on Walter Benjamin and architectural translatability. He has taught classes on European modernism, the history of sexuality, Jewish studies, cinema studies, and philosophy. He has presented papers on W. G. Sebald and memory at the 2014 ACLA conference and on Irmgard Keun’s Kind aller Länder at the University of Washington’s Conference of Interdisciplinary Humanities. In 2014 he was invited to speak on translation and architecture at the Annual Conference of the Centro de Estudos Comparatistas at the University of Lisbon. Ross Lipton is also a pianist and composer and served as the musical director for the Nighthawks Theater Company in Philadelphia from 2013 to 2015.
„Benjamin’s Dialectical Image and the Textuality of the Built Landscape“, in: Footprint: Delft Architecture Theory Journal 10.1, Spring/Summer 2016, pp. 75-90; „Of Gods and Glaciers (a short story)“, Philomel: Literary Journal of Philomathean Society of the University of Pennsylvania, Spring 2010, pp. 50-55.
Since Antiquity, Architecture and Music have been linked through the concept of harmony. In fin-de-siècle Vienna, this bond became further complicated through the work of urban planners, architects and composers, taking on new political and cultural implications. Ross Lipton explores the relationship between architectural and musical practices at the turn of the 20th century and how their approach to unity in form are both reflections and critiques of the conditions of urban modernity.