UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The individual of late modernity in Istvan Anhalt's Foci (1969) Nguyen, Sophia


Hungarian-born Canadian composer Istvan Anhalt’s (1919-2012) multimedia work, Foci (1969), was written during a time of rapid technological and social change. Composed for taped and live voices, electronics, and instruments in Montreal amidst the political upheavals of the Quiet Revolution, Foci is a work that exemplifies new directions in musical technique that were being explored in Canada at the time. Foci is also a work that comments on broader cultural developments in a period known as late modernity. Sociologists such as Jock Young and Anthony Giddens have described this period as one that is characterized by an increase in the dissolution of traditional social and personal boundaries, a rise in individual autonomy, and the permeation of anxiety into all spheres of life, which Albert Camus argues is the result of one’s increased awareness of the Absurd. The thesis will explore how Foci can be read as a work that embodies various struggles that the individual of late modernity encounters, including the challenge of creating oneself from a philosophical blank slate (Chapter 2), reconciling traditional notions of religion and faith with late-modern ones (Chapter 3), navigating through interactions with others and groups while balancing the need for individuality and uniqueness (Chapter 4), and finally, confronting the late-modern idea that any singular truth is untenable (Chapter 5). By studying the sociological context of Foci in conjunction with its musical characteristics, an understanding of the work’s place and significance in Canadian music history as well as in the changing social and cultural conditions of the 1960’s is acquired.

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