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Absolute MusicThe History of an Idea$
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Mark Evan Bonds

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199343638

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199343638.001.0001

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Hanslick’s “Pure” Music

Hanslick’s “Pure” Music

(p.141) 9 Hanslick’s “Pure” Music
Absolute Music

Mark Evan Bonds

Oxford University Press

Hanslick’s Vom Musikalisch-Schönen (1854) addresses all of the qualities—expression, beauty, form, autonomy, disclosiveness—that had for so long played a central role in discussions about the relationship between music’s essence and effect. Its title places autonomy (Musikalisch-) and beauty (-Schönen) at the center of his conception of music. The primary “contribution to the revision of musical aesthetics” promised in the subtitle is the separation of music’s effect from an account of music’s essence. Music’s sole content, according to the treatise’s most famous and often-quoted phrase, consists of tönend bewegte Formen, forms set in motion through musical tones. The treatise is by turns conventional, radical, and ambivalent. The original ending, deleted incrementally over the next two editions, is especially revealing of Hanslick’s conflicted thinking about the relationship of music’s essence and effect.

Keywords:   Absolute music, Eduard Hanslick, Musical formalism, Aesthetic autonomy

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