Recognizing Music as an Art Form: Friedrich Th. Vischer and German Music Criticism, 1848-1887

Recognizing Music as an Art Form: Friedrich Th. Vischer and German Music Criticism, 1848-1887

Barbara Titus

Language: English

Pages: 270

ISBN: 2:00363043

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


The impact of Hegelian philosophy on 19th-century music criticism
Music’s status as an art form was distrusted in the context of German idealist philosophy which exerted an unparalleled influence on the entire nineteenth century. Hegel insisted that the content of a work of art should be grasped in concepts in order to establish its spiritual substantiality (Geistigkeit), and that no object, word or image could accurately represent the content and meaning of a musical work. In the mid-nineteenth century, Friedrich Theodor Vischer and other Hegelian aestheticians kept insisting on art's conceptual clarity, but they adapted the aesthetic system on which this requirement had been based. Their adaptations turned out to be decisive for the development of music criticism, to such an extent that music critics used them to point out musical content and to confirm music’s autonomy as an art form. This book unravels the network of music critics and philosophers, including not only Hegel but also Franz Liszt, Franz Brendel, and Eduard Hanslick, whose works shaped public opinions of music

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that music critics often adhered to idealist thinking in a subconscious manner, we should seriously engage with the question of whether we are dealing with defined chapter two – thinking about music 51 concepts or ideas, or in fact with nothing more than rhetoric; possibly, music critics only used Hegelian terminology in order to find a connection with an established intellectual movement. Concepts such as Geist, Bewußtsein or Phantasie were so widely used, and in such wide-ranging contexts,

not asking Hanslick does not seem very convincing. Vischer must have been aware of the fame and importance of Hanslick’s treatise,8 but he must also have noted the aesthetic differences between him and Hanslick.9 From his student days onwards, Hanslick had been close friends with the prominent formalist Robert Zimmermann. Zimmermann’s aim was to turn aesthetic thought into an empirical science, considering all statements about anything other than a work of art’s form (and especially those about

expressing its time, chapter five – repositioning eduard hanslick115 describing the material not only as stone for a sculpture or paint for a painting but also as artistic techniques, fashions or cultural movements. These sensory (sinnliche) means which were available to an artist in his creation of a work of art had been subject to earlier expressions of an artist’s imagination, which originated from a certain period of history: a poet’s choice of a villanelle or a sonnet, a composer’s

legitimation crisis to that of music, the ‘outlaw’ among the arts. In the eyes of many critics, programme music enhanced the problematic aesthetic position of music in general. Brendel regarded it as his task to counter the accusations of ‘generic adultery’ (Reeve 1992, 153n), problematic musical form and incomprehensible manner of communication (Hanslick 1892a, 215) by dismissing those accusations as ‘misunderstandings’ (Brendel 1857c, 45). Those who criticized the music of Franz Liszt, for

dichotomy of mind and senses played an important role in idealist philosophy, and gained a dialectical dimension in that they functioned as preconditions for the sublation into artistic capabilities such as imagination. The German word Geist (mind), moreover, took on increasingly metaphysical pretensions (see Spirit). Like many dialectical relationships in idealist philosophy, the mind and the senses are roughly equivalent to other dialectical structures, such as Sittlichkeit and Sinnlichkeit,

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