This introductory chapter presents the “genetic criticism,” or critique génétique, as an approach to the study of the creative process. The term itself relates to the genesis of cultural works, as regarded in a broad and inclusive manner. The chapter applies this approach by examining how conditions for the production and reception of artworks can be regarded as “intensely ideological formations” in late nineteenth-century works by two influential composers from the European musical tradition: Brahms and Wagner. It first considers the conditions for the production of Brahms's pieces by taking note of his engagement with Beethoven's music and sketchbooks. In Wagner's case, the chapter focuses on issues of reception, particularly how his final drama, Parsifal, was promoted at Bayreuth after his death. The chapter concludes with a brief overview of the succeeding chapters and the scope of the sources which this study draws from.
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