Efficient Causation and Musical Inspiration
The concept of artistic inspiration in the realm of music composition has changed notably over the last millennium. Using portraits of composers as evidence, this essay presents, in chronological order, three different views of the causation of artistic inspiration as related to the reception of specific composers: Hildegard of Bingen (1098–1179), Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750) and Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827). As discussion of these composer portraits reveals, contemporary perceptions of the efficient causation of musical inspiration went from divine inspiration in the medieval era, to rational “invention” in the Baroque era and secular transcendence in the modern era.
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