Payzant translation Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing, As much as possible, the outline uses the vocabulary of the Payzant translation. Square brackets [like this] offer my own interpretive comments. This outline was written by Theodore Gracyk. He seems to think that the pursuit of objective criticism is already underway with literature and the visual arts. But the Romanticism of the nineteenth century looked instead to human expression of emotion.
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To me, it is a kind of a good seminal work, of which theme today's Psychology of Music and Music Therapy can address a lot better. Eduard Hanslick adulating the statue of Saint Johannes Brahms By that time, Hanslick was pondering on the aesthetical experience of music, so sui generis an experience music the most ethereal of the arts!
Evidence for this is the extraordinary difference between the reactions of Mozart's,Beethoven's, and Weber's contemporaries to their compositions and our own reaction today. How many works by Mozart were declared in his time to be the most passionate,ardent,and audacious within the reach of musical mood-painting.
At that time people contrasted the tranquility and wholesomeness of Haydin's symphonies with the outbursts of vehement passion, bitter struggle,and piercing agony of Mozart's. Twenty or thirty years later,they made exactely the same comparison between Mozart and Beethoven. Mozart's position as representative of violent, inspired passion was taken over by Beethoven, and Mozart was promoted to Haydn's Olympian classicism It reads like a philosophical approach.
I see the experience of beauty in music as a rather idiosyncratic, individual issue. My view. View all 4 comments. Nov 05, Nathan "N. Shelves: philosophy , musee-music. There has been precious little done regarding of the question of the aesthetics of music. This situation should surprise just about everyone.
The only recent book-length study I am familiar with is Roger Scruton's The Aesthetics of Music which is an indispensable volume for anyone interested in philosophy and music. It's been a number of years since I've read the above volumes ; but a fascinating short study it was and still remains.
View all 7 comments. View 1 comment. Apart from the fact that Hanslick's definition of beauty is baffling and his grasp on the other fine arts seems to be slightly on the weaker side, what is presented here is rather stimulating and elucidating. Hanslick is a strict anticognitivist, who loathes the idea that, when dealing with the art of music, aesthetics should concentrate on superfluous aspects such as feelings or simply mystical things such as moral issues in a musical context.
Rather, music should be about its own content and Apart from the fact that Hanslick's definition of beauty is baffling and his grasp on the other fine arts seems to be slightly on the weaker side, what is presented here is rather stimulating and elucidating.
Rather, music should be about its own content and form first and foremost - that is, tones and motion. After those, we get structural elements. He does urge aestheticians to collaborate with neuroscience in conjunction with the issue of feelings so as for them to gain some actual evidence in favour of their theory and hence he doesn't gainsay the idea completely , yet for the most part he's a strict formalist in that music should be treated as music - no fluff!
I think Hanslick's main argument was indeed from the perspective of aesthetics, not listening to music on the whole. Yet it wouldn't hurt for anyone to approach at least classical music from his point of view every now and then: instrumental music can only truly impart its immediate aural qualities, and anything that one may find in there or anything one might experience is of course legitimate, but only from a purely subjective point of view - hence one shouldn't get too carried away by simply listening to instrumental music for the kicks, but one could also pay attention to the aforementioned tones and motion of the pieces.
That way, a whole new vista is given to music lovers. Hanslick's arguments for the autonomy of music over the lyrics were also rather interesting, though misplaced for he thinks that music cannot represent things properly for the lack of commonalities with the objects of representation, yet he thinks that poetry can do this effortlessly - being nothing but language!
One shouldn't try to figure out how the composer has tried to reflect the music in the text or vice versa, since it is more or less impossible to know, and they can never really portray each other properly. But unlike Hanslick's rather snobby assertion that music subjected to the lyrics is unequivocally bad, a more open-minded person should instead try to pay attention to their interrelations. In my opinion, perhaps ideally, both should strive for autonomy as much as possible while still keeping their contact, if their union is indeed necessary.
There are exceptions to this dogma of mine, but as a rule boring accompanying power chords or bass tonics over florid poetry or incredibly intricate music over spartan chants can be a dull combination, aspersing the necessity for such an artistic convergence in the first place. Yet when this union is done well, like in the music of Jethro Tull and Frank Zappa, boy do the elements complement each other well!
Though when it comes to composing itself, Hanslick made a fairly good point about the apparent futility of attempting to translate music into verbal language: such an attempt could only end up in needless confusion. In such cases, it would perhaps be better to stick to the language of music and its capabilities for expression - though I'd be averse to set any barriers for any self-expressing artist.
But it would be slightly silly But back to the aesthetical side of things. Though one might look askance at my application of Hanslick's ideas, in the foregoing purview they do make sense. Hanslick wanted to expel vague poetry from the realm of something that should be a credible branch of investigation. He wanted to bring some realism into the idealistic circles of dilettantes by pointing out with wonderful pithiness that "In music, no amount of 'intention' can replace invention" - underscoring the fact that there are many things between the composer and the listener, so many in fact that inspirational conjecture is all but mysticism.
I mean, music does have its own objective language, yet the feelings of the composer are purely subjective and ultimately invisible. Then there's the fact that the work has to be performed, and in the case of classical music, rarely by the composer himself.
Then there might be lyrics involved, which complicate matters even more, not to mention the rich emotional life of the final recipient. Hanslick doesn't always hit the nail on the head, though.
First of all, he posits that unlike other fine arts, music has never had its origin in the external reality - an element which he considered essential to the other arts. Since I think my guess is as good as Hanslick's when it comes to pure historical speculation, I could see it easily a possibility that when music first emerged, it received its inspiration from the way natural sounds reacted with each other - obviously there are no symphonies out there, yet likewise the worlds of Monet remain a fantasy, not to mention the symbolical paintings of the Middle Ages.
After the initial inspiration, music continued to draw from its musical predecessors - just like in other forms of art. Secondly, at intervals Hanslick would succumb to unfortunate blathering about musical superiority and about refinement and cultivation. Given that his whole idea of the musically beautiful is simply his own fabrication, something that is beautiful regardless on whether it gives someone pleasurable feelings, it seems a bit weird how he would periodically retreat behind the veil of refined supremacy, taking for granted that certain elements in music are unqualifiedly better than others without actually explaining how this is so.
He did criticise many an essayist for the exact same reason, after all! I, for one, would've been most glad in hearing him flesh these opinions out a bit more. Thirdly, for all his good points, I don't know whether feelings should be eradicated from aesthetics altogether. True, one shouldn't base one's arguments wholly on them, but they can be used to illustrate points - and sometimes the emotional quality of the piece could be so obvious as in, here's a very scary part that it could be described as such without fear of contradiction - just like we don't know for sure what certain words in a novel are supposed to convey, yet we can have plenty of educated guesses about it.
Ultimately, one shouldn't forget that art is about interpretation. On the Musically Beautiful might be a bit flawed, but it's also beautifully argued and even more beautifully written or rather, translated. It's a joy to read in itself, even if the arguments would be wholly indigestible to the reader. For me, however, they rang true half of the time, and hence I'm willing to award Hanslick with my precious four stars!
Mar 13, David rated it it was amazing. What a hoot! Eduard Hanslick was a late nineteenth-century Viennese music critic famous for his championing of Brahms, disparaging of Wagner, and authorship of this little book—which went through ten editions in his lifetime.
But he argues sharply, stays focused, anticipates objections well, and altogether turns in a terrific performance.
Oct 15, Jessica rated it really liked it. Well, besides getting over the part where he says that women are incapable of logical thought and thus not composers, he has some solid ideas. I tend to agree with most of what he asserts.
My training is in music and his writings--representing the more "absolute" side of the "war of the Romantics," makes more sense to me than Wagner, representing the other side. Aug 19, Carol rated it liked it Shelves: music.
This treatise on musical aesthetics was first published in , and it is important to keep that context in mind while reading. Hanslick's thesis is that music does not intrinsically represent anything and that its real subject is itself. He refutes the idea apparently popular at the time he was writing that the actual substance or content of music is "feelings" i.
Hanslick instead contends that th This treatise on musical aesthetics was first published in , and it is important to keep that context in mind while reading.
Eduard Hanslick (1825–1904)
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Eduard Hanslick's On the Musically Beautiful
Hanslick was born in Prague then in the Austrian Empire , the son of Joseph Adolph Hanslik, a bibliographer and music teacher from a German-speaking family, and one of his piano pupils, the daughter of a Jewish merchant from Vienna. He also studied law at Prague University and obtained a degree in that field, but his amateur study of music eventually led to writing music reviews for small town newspapers, then the Wiener Musik-Zeitung and eventually the Neue Freie Presse , where he was music critic until retirement. In he published his influential book On the Beautiful in Music. By this time his interest in Wagner had begun to cool; he had written a disparaging review of the first Vienna production of Lohengrin. From this point on, Hanslick found his sympathies moving away from the so-called 'music of the Future' associated with Wagner and Franz Liszt , and more towards music he conceived as directly descending from the traditions of Mozart , Beethoven and Schumann  — in particular the music of Johannes Brahms who dedicated to him his set of waltzes opus 39 for piano duet. In , in a revised edition of his essay Jewishness in Music , Wagner attacked Hanslick as 'of gracefully concealed Jewish origin', and asserted that his supposedly Jewish style of criticism was anti-German.