This article illuminates the way American poet Frank O'Hara (1926–1966) develops Romantic tropes of musical virtuosity. While the term “virtuosity” has been used to decry O'Hara's work, scholarship has not acknowledged the extent to which his poetry, via elliptical hints to Keats and Liszt, could partake in a nineteenth-century discourse about this aesthetic mode. Virtuosity highlights a relationship between performance and form; interaction of these forces is what a strain of O'Hara's poems examines and more broadly what his poetics exemplify. The article argues that his poems are piqued by pianistic virtuosity and its problems, rather than a victim of them.

You do not currently have access to this content.