Dukas and the uncanny


In Paul Dukas’s L’apprenti sorcier, the figure of the magically animated broom becomes an agent of the uncanny, matching definitions subsequently outlined by Freud in his 1919 essay Das Unheimliche.

New attention to musical details, the composer’s unpublished notes, and the structure of Goethe’s poem Der Zauberlehrling suggests that Dukas’s work stands as a peculiar kind of fiction that points to the uncanny nature of narrative itself and the impossibility of mastery.

This according to “Silence, echo: A response to What the sorcerer said” by Carlo Caballero (19th-century music XXVIII/2 [fall 2004] pp. 160–182).

Today is Dukas’s 150th birthday! Below, Walt Disney’s beloved treatment from Fantasia (1940).

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