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My first encounter with Edward Said’s work was in the 1980s with the book, Beginnings: Intention and Method (1975). I was exploring a semiotic approach to late 18th-century music, specifically, a beginning-middle-ending paradigm (an Aristotelian paradigm) that seemed to me to capture the rhetorical intentions of Classic composers. Said’s wide-ranging reflections and ruminations on beginnings – as inaugural moments, as sites for the establishment of difference, as authorially privileged moments, and as "first steps in the intentional production of meaning" – proved inspiring. My enduring impression of him at the time was that he was a very good analyst who had also read a lot of books and maintained a humane stance as critic.


This article was originally published in Philomusica On-Line, available at



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