Daniel Boucher

Photo of Daniel Boucher

Department of Music
Doctoral researcher

Contact details

PhD Title: Opera and discourses of expressionism in the Weimar Republic
Supervisors: Dr Nicholas Attfield and Dr Harriet Boyd-Bennett
PhD Musicology by Research

Qualifications

  • BA (Hons) Music, University of Nottingham
  • MRes Music, University of Nottingham

Biography

I am a musicologist and cultural historian who specializes in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century opera, particularly in Germany. Following studies in violin and composition as an undergraduate, I undertook a research masters in musicology. My MRes thesis, supervised by Dr Nicholas Baragwanath, explored E. T. A. Hoffmann’s aesthetics of opera and his subsequent influence on early German Romantic opera. As a violinist, I performed in the premiere of Elizabeth Kelly’s opera ‘Losing Her Voice’ and have collaborated with Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Zoë Johnston on her latest album.

Research

My thesis explores the relationship between opera and expressionism in the Weimar Republic. It will show how individual opera performances can be used to trace discourses of expressionism at local and national levels, fuelled by networks of individuals and institutions. By 1920, art critics deemed expressionism outdated, or even dead, and questioned its relevance. Debates fixating on expressionism, however, continued throughout the 1920s. My thesis will tease out these debates and consider them as living entities of Weimar culture, thereby recasting our understanding of the position of expressionism in this period. Rather than considering expressionism as a fixed aesthetic, I shall be primarily be considering it as a discourse: i.e., an idea; a topic of debate; a collaborative project; similar to how critics viewed it at the time. In addition to the operas of Schoenberg and Berg – works that are regularly associated with expressionism – my case studies will include operas by composers such as Hindemith, Krenek, Weill and Bartók. Therefore, as well as drawing together operas that have typically been understood in isolation, my research will also re-evaluate the emergence of a modern opera culture in Germany.

Other activities

Conference presentations

  • ‘Hindemith’s Sancta Susanna and networks of expressionism in Frankfurt’, Junior Scholar Opera Conference, in association with the Transnational Opera Studies Conference, University of Bayreuth, 24-25 June 2021
  • ‘Hindemith’s Sancta Susanna and networks of expressionism in Frankfurt’, Midlands Music Research Network Inaugural Conference, 19-20 April 2021
  • ‘Opera and regional networks of expressionism in the Weimar Republic’, Sounding Research Series, University of Birmingham, 17 March 2021 

Funding awards

  • Midlands4Cities Doctoral Studentship
  • Midlands4Cities Masters Studentship

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