BEETHOVEN term paper | essay on BEETHOVEN
E.T.A. Hoffmann's discussions of performance, largely ignored in the current literature, proclaim a key aspect of his aesthetics: performance should transport its listeners to that ‘other world’ of the music itself. To underline the point, Hoffmann resorts to elaborate metaphor, most strikingly in the essay on Beethoven's Piano Trios op. 70.In seeking to understand this aspect of Hoffmann's aesthetics, I briefly situate his ideas in the context of early nineteenth-century aesthetics. However, his accounts of transcendent listening correlate with modern theories of absorbed attention and, more generally, inform current debates concerning the relationships between performance, listening, and the secondary discourses of musical exegesis. Does knowledge about music always or necessarily promote deep listening? In considering such questions, I turn to the philosophical accounts of audiencing in Gadamer and Adorno. Adorno in particular is aware of the limits of conceptualisation and the need to acknowledge the power of music to transcend what we can say about it.There are many problems with Hoffmann's aesthetics, but I argue that these do not invalidate his central argument, which is also Adorno's: that the finest music is not a discourse wholly accessible to conceptualization, for the latter may at times detract from the deeper listening experience. I illustrate the point by considering the pre-war recording of Beethoven's op. 135 quartet by the Busch Quartet, arguing that this recording achieves its longevity not by complying with Beethoven's score but by adopting strategies that draw its listeners into its own magical arena.
Berlioz: Essay on Beethoven's symphonies - Hector Berlioz
In his 1870 essay on Beethoven the composer Richard Wagner, following the philosopher Schopenhauer, asserted that the category of the sublime was crucial for understanding music, declaring:
In Joe's critical writings, one admires the balance between historical and aesthetic dimensions, as an unfolding narrative is conveyed through sharply etched prose. One thinks fondly for instance of his concise article on Schubert's remarkable Heine setting, "Her Picture."1 Another musicological masterpiece in this regard is Joe's essay on Beethoven's song cycled« die feme Geliebte that he wrote for the first volume of the Beethoven Studies series edited by his friend Alan Tyson, from 1975. This was one of his favorite essays. Joe interrogated Beethoven's cycle with exquisite sensitivity, weighing its personal significance for the composer in relation to the mystery of the "Immortal Beloved." At the same time Joe offered original perspectives based on the suggestive sketches as well as the surpassing lyrical thrust of the whole cycle, which downplays artifice in favor of a moving directness of expression. In a penetrating insight Joe indicated how Beethoven himself intervened in revisingthe text, thereby connecting the last song with the first while underscoring that yearn ing toward genuine interpersonal communication that was so characteristic both of the composer and of this remarkable musicologist.
Originally published by E. W. Fritzsch,Leipzig, in the autumn of 1870, the essay on Beethoven reached asecond edition before the end of the same year.As with the essay on Beethoven’s Sonata Op. 57 in Tonwille 7, there are extensive, detailed remarks on performance in the Brahms essay, including a paragraph on each of the variations and nearly two pages on the fugue; these include suggestions for fingering, and for the positioning of the hands in relation to the keyboard.Despite the enormous and accelerating worldwide interest in Wagner leading to the bicentenary of his birth in 2013, his prose writings have received scant scholarly attention. Wagner's book-length essay on Beethoven, written to celebrate the centenary of Beethoven's birth in 1870, is really about Wagner himself rather than Beethoven. It is generally regarded as the principal aesthetic statement of the composer's later years, representing a reassessment of the ideas of the earlier Zurich writings, especially , in the light of the experience gained through the composition of and the greater part of . It contains Wagner's most complete exegesis of his understanding of Schopenhauer's philosophy and its perceived influence on the compositional practice of his later works. The essay also influenced the young Nietzsche. It is an essential text in the teaching of not only Wagnerian thought but also late nineteenth-century musical aesthetics in general.
Until now the English reader with no access to the German original has been obliged to work from two Victorian translations. This brand new edition gives the German original and the newly translated English text on facing pages. It comes along with a substantial introduction placing the essay not only within the wider historical and intellectual context of Wagner's later thought but also in the political context of the establishment of the German Empire in the 1870s. The translation is annotated throughout with a full bibliography. will be indispensable reading for historians and musicologists as well as those interested in Wagner's philosophy and the aesthetics of music.
ROGER ALLEN is Fellow and Tutor in Music at St Peter's College, Oxford. As Joscelyn Godwin remarks in Harmonies of Heaven and Earth (61), in those few lines Hoffmann states the perennial doctrine of the soul’s ascent through the starry spheres to its destined place in the sun. Like the ancients before him, he believed in music’s power to transport us to another realm. In an essay on Beethoven, Hoffmann (96) wrote: “Music opens to man an unknown region, a world that has nothing in common with the world that surrounds him, in which he leaves behind all ordinary feeling to surrender himself to an inexpressible longing.”In his 1870 essay on Beethoven, Wagner made several noteworthy statements about the Third Symphony: “Now from such of Beethoven’s letters as have been preserved, and the uncommonly meagre information regarding the outer life ... what possible conclusion can be drawn as to the connection of any particular events with his musical creations, and the course of development perceptible therein? Supposing we had all possible information about special facts before us ... even then we should see nothing beyond what is contained in the account, for instance, that the master had at first designed the Sinfonia eroica as an act of homage to young General Bonaparte and inscribed his name upon the title-page; and that he had subsequently struck out the name, when he heard that Bonaparte had made himself Emperor. ... what aid can such a plain indication give us in judging of one of the most wonderful of musical creations? Can it explain a single bar of that score? Is it not sheer folly to think seriously of making such an attempt?” [translated by Edward Dannreuther, 1903]