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German Lecture Series - Breath Piece: On Paul Celan and John Coltrane.

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Matthew Smith (Professor of German Studies and of Theater and Performance Studies, Stanford University)

Abstract: Paul Celan and John Coltrane were artists in separate fields and cultures who almost certainly knew nothing of one another. And yet a breathturn connects them. In a series of influential performances beginning around 1960, both Coltrane and Celan expressed an exhaustion with and of musicality, an exhaustion that opened the way for a new kind of shared expression—one we may call pneumatic.