Abstract and Keywords
During the closing decades of the nineteenth century, the polemics between advocates of absolute and program music began to lose steam. The two sides continued to clash, but without the fervor that had characterized the debate in earlier decades. A new generation of composers and critics was inclined to accept the legitimacy of absolute and program music alike. Those who began their careers after 1880 tended to adopt a less polarizing attitude to explain the relationship between music’s essence and its effect. At the end of the century, relatively few subscribed to the idea that one repertory belonged to the past and the other to the future. The rhetoric of exclusion gradually gave way to one of tolerance.
During the last quarter of the nineteenth century, the polemics between advocates of absolute and program music began to lose steam. The two sides continued to clash, but without the fervor that had characterized the debate in earlier decades. A new generation of composers and critics was inclined to accept the legitimacy of absolute and program music alike. The rhetoric of exclusion gradually gave way to one of tolerance. At the end of the century, relatively few subscribed to the idea that one repertory belonged to the past and the other to the future. Those who began their careers after 1880 tended to adopt a less polarizing attitude to explain the relationship between music’s essence and its effect. Hanslick continued to fulminate against program music, and Hausegger railed against absolute music, but their views reflected the perspectives of a generation that had come of age in the 1850s. By 1896 the composer and critic Carl Raphael Hennig (1845–1914) could propose a synthesis of the aesthetics of Hanslick and Hausegger even while the two were still active.1 The distinction between absolute and program music remained an important topic of debate, to be sure, as Sandra McColl’s cross-sectional examination of Viennese musical criticism during the 1896–97 season demonstrates with exceptional clarity.2 But the tone of the discourse was now far less strident and the issue itself no longer nearly so divisive. Such composers as Gustav Mahler (b. 1860) and Arnold Schoenberg (b. 1874), as we shall see, could accommodate both perspectives in their work, and even Richard Strauss (b. 1864) would eventually acknowledge the common ground between programmatic and absolute repertories.
Oddly enough, the initial phase of this process of reconciliation played itself out in the writings of the dispute’s two chief protagonists, Hanslick and Wagner. Their changing views after the mid-1850s reflect the shifting ground of the debate as a whole. At some point, perhaps as early as the 1860s, Hanslick began to entertain private doubts about his own treatise. In his memoirs, published in 1894, he claimed that he had intended Vom Musikalisch-Schönen as a nothing (p.238) more than a “sketch,” the “foundation” of a larger future work. He acknowledged that the “negative, polemical” portion of his treatise far outweighed its “positive, systematic” portion in both scope and clarity. He also confessed to having grown weary of philosophy and of “working with abstract concepts.” The history of music, on the other hand, now filled him with an “inexhaustible delight,” all the more so after his appointment at the University of Vienna, first as a Privatdozent in 1856, then as an außerordentlicher Professor (1861), and then ultimately (1870) as the institution’s first and only full professor (Ordinarius) of the “history and aesthetics of music.”3 His enriched historical perspective led him to question one of the fundamental premises of Vom Musikalisch-Schönen, that musical beauty is an immutable quality independent of time or place. In the preface to an anthology of his criticisms of contemporary opera published in 1875, Hanslick noted that music, as a “human product,” is necessarily permeated by elements subject to mortality. And in his memoirs, he reflected even more openly on this point:
What is beautiful in music? Indeed, different times, different peoples, and different schools have answered this question quite differently. The more I immersed myself in the study of the history of music, the more the abstract aesthetics of music fluttered away from my sight, ever more vaguely, ever more vaporously, almost like a mirage.4
Hanslick thus confessed—though not in any later edition of his treatise—that aesthetics could be approached in terms of history after all and that beauty might be contingent rather than absolute. It is a stunning acknowledgment. By the 1870s, however, his views on the nature of the art were too well-known for him to retract his position explicitly or reformulate it in any sort of systematic fashion, and as late as the 1890s, as we have seen, he was still casting public aspersions on the basic premise of program music.
Wagner was far more open in acknowledging his changing attitudes toward purely instrumental music. By coincidence, he discovered the works of Schopenhauer in September 1854, just at the moment when Hanslick was putting the finishing touches on the first edition of Vom Musikalisch-Schönen. The experience caused Wagner to rethink in fundamental ways the relationship of music to the other arts.5 Schopenhauer valued music’s disclosive capacities (p.239) above those of any other art, not in spite of its nonconceptual nature but because of it. Music, he argued, is not simply another reflection of the idea of the Will (his term for the irreducible, subjective, inner aspect of things, including ourselves), but a reflection of the Will itself: “We could just as well call the world embodied music as embodied Will; this is the reason music makes every picture, indeed every scene from real life and from the world, at once appear in enhanced significance.”6 The real world of particular things consists of universalia in re, and concepts are universalia post rem, but music presents universalia ante rem, the “innermost kernel preceding the shaping of all form.” The “effect of music” is more “more powerful and penetrating” than that of the other arts, for “these others speak only of the shadow, but music of the essence.7
By positing music as a direct reflection of the Will, Schopenhauer had no need to distinguish between vocal and instrumental manifestations of the art: additional forms of mediation, such as a sung text, an accompanying verbal program, or an evocative title, were to his mind altogether secondary. He pointed to Rossini’s arias as exemplars of melody: from a philosophical perspective, their words and dramatic context are of no consequence. They neither enhance nor inhibit the music.
Schopenhauer’s philosophy allowed Wagner to continue writing music dramas, but within a new hierarchy of priorities in which music governed all else. It connected music to the phenomenal world even while elevating music above that world by eliminating the need for mediation through concepts or language, even while accommodating additional layers of mediation. Schopenhauer was adamant about the connections between the world of phenomena and the world of ideas. “My philosophy,” he declared to a follower in 1852, “is never concerned with cloud-cuckoo-land, but rather with this world, which is to say, it is immanent, not transcendent. It deciphers the world before us.”8 “Despite the dualistic description,” observes Lydia Goehr, “there is only one world—the world is truly a universe and music is part of it.” Schopenhauer’s method of philosophizing by (p.240) analogy, as Goehr goes on to point out, “helps inexpressible languages be understood even if they are not adequately (philosophically) explained.”9
The influence of Schopenhauer is already evident in Wagner’s open letter of 1857 on Liszt’s symphonic poems. “Hear my creed,” he implored: “Music can never cease to be the highest, most redemptive art, regardless of any alliance into which it might enter. Its essence lies in this: what all other arts merely suggest becomes, in and through music, the most unassailable certainty, the most immediately determinant of all truths.”10 Wagner would express this conviction repeatedly in subsequent writings. Purely instrumental music, far from lacking the “fertilizing seed” of the word, was now a vehicle of metaphysical disclosure in its own right. Through “purely musical expression that captivates the listener in the most unimaginably varied nuances,” Wagner asserted in 1860, Beethoven had been able to create works that appear as “a revelation from another world,” opening up to listeners “all the various coherence among worldly phenomena in such a way that logic and reason are upended and disarmed.”11
Wagner’s most extended account of the disclosive capacity of purely instrumental music is his “Beethoven” essay of 1870, written on the occasion of the composer’s centennial. It opens with an extended meditation on the essence of music as revelation (Offenbarung), a force that both drives and reflects all. Music subsumes drama, which is “a counterpart of music given visible form.” Instrumental music constitutes nothing less than a bridge between the conscious, rational world, and the higher realm of the spirit that can otherwise be intuited only through dream.12 As a window on the universe, music can accommodate any text. In a passage uncannily reminiscent of Hanslick’s observations in chapter 2 of Vom Musikalisch-Schönen, Wagner observes that a melody loses nothing of its character when set to a different text: the relationship of poetry and music is thus “entirely illusory,” for in any union of the two the former must (p.241) defer to the latter.13 At another point, Wagner argues strenuously that music adheres to “aesthetic laws different from those of any other art.”14
One wonders what Hanslick must have made of such astonishing concessions. Did he trouble himself to come to terms with Schopenhauer’s philosophy? Probably not. But others who subscribed to Hanslick’s rhetoric of musical purity found in Schopenhauer’s thought a prestigious legitimation of their beliefs. It acknowledged the unique nature of music and its material autonomy. It allowed for but crucially did not require the mediation of other arts. More than any other single development, Schopenhauer’s philosophy of music helped dissipate the toxic atmosphere that had been building up since the aesthetic-ideological collisions of the 1850s.
This is not to say that Wagner and Hanslick themselves ever publicly agreed on the nature of the art. Personal animosities prevented them from acknowledging any such common ground. The original ending of the first edition of Vom Musikalisch-Schönen, with its dual appeal to music as an autonomous art and as a reflection of the cosmos, might at one time have provided a basis for some kind of reconciliation between the two. Wagner conceived of music in relation to the universe as whole even before his confrontation with Schopenhauer and still more so after it. Hanslick, by contrast, became increasingly committed to the idea of music as a Sonderkunst, an art unrelated to anything but itself.
With the passage of time, more and more observers began to realize that the two sides were really not as far apart as they had once seemed. By 1889 even as ardent a Wagnerian as Alois John (1860–1935) could count absolute music as one of three “elemental components” of Wagner’s art.15 John even went so far as to praise absolute music as “the truly revolutionary, the reformational” feature of Wagner’s art, a “new language” born of “necessity,” capable of expressing “endless longing” and that which cannot be articulated in words. Wagner’s absolute music, John hastened to add, was free of “all rules and schools” and of “every authority and conventional manner.” His music went beyond “the old style, the pious melody, the pleasant play” that had degenerated into “caricature” and no longer sufficed for the “powerful domain of ideas of the new work of art.” The need for an art imbued with “power, heroism, and passion” had brought forth from Wagner “a new musical language, an absolute music.”16
(p.242) Other Wagnerians experienced Schopenhauerian epiphanies of their own. In his Richard Wagner and the Music of the Future, published in 1874, the German-born music critic of The Times, Francis (Franz) Hueffer (1845–1889) refers repeatedly to absolute music in disparaging tones for its “strict forms” and “dead formalism” and speaks glowingly of the “victory of poetical over absolute music—of the ‘Future’ over the ‘Past.’” “The possibility of music for the sole sake of sonorous beauty has virtually ceased to exist,” Hueffer declares, “and any composer with higher aspirations than those of a genre painter, without subject or artistic purpose, has to consider it his task to express a preconceived poetical idea by means of his sound. It is the part of music to receive this idea, and to bring it forth again idealised and raised to its own sphere of pure passion.”17 Fifteen years later Hueffer expressed a very different view. In relating a conversation he had had recently with an unnamed young English composer of promise, Hueffer reported the was
exceedingly struck by the emphatic manner in which my young friend held forth against so-called “absolute” music. The Symphony, the Sonata, and other classical forms appear to him to be the effete types of a bygone age. A piece of music without a subject, he thought, was as meaningless as a picture without a subject. In short, he expressed the most unqualified allegiance to that “poetic idea in music” which Wagner, Liszt, and Berlioz have proclaimed in their various ways.
With this thorough-going revolutionism I was, of course, unable to agree in all its bearings. Ripe experience has taught me that in the house of music there are many habitations, that the classical form created by Haydn, and imbued with infinite varieties and depths of beauty by Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann, Mendelssohn, and many others, is by no means obsolete; that in the hands of genius it may still bring forth rich and noble fruit. Neither can I admit that music must necessarily deal with an extraneous subject; even painting may to a certain extent dispense with such a subject, may become a vague and delightful harmony of colour, as Turner and Mr. Whistler have taught us. Much more so is this the case in the art of sounds. There are some thoughts that lie too deep for words, too deep even for definite realisation; and it is just in expressing these inexpressible things that music shows its most specific power, and ascends from the world of appearances to the world of realities, from the phenomenon to the noumenon, as Plato has it.18
As in the case of Wagner, we can trace this change of mind to an exposure to the writings of Schopenhauer, which Hueffer seems to have discovered at some (p.243) point between 1874, when he had dismissed absolute music, and 1876, when he published an essay on the philosopher in the Fortnightly Review of Edinburgh.19
Hueffer’s enthusiasm for the “Music of the Future” would not diminish in the slightest, but his acceptance of absolute music as viable repertory reflects the influence of Schopenhauer not only on Wagner but on an entire generation of Wagnerians, including the critic Wilhelm Tappert (1830–1907). Writing shortly after the premiere of Parsifal, Tappert observed that it remained to be seen whether the “Music of the Future” or absolute music would win out, but he noted that the two were by no means mutually exclusive and even complemented each other.20 A decade later, in 1892, the critic Paul Schneider proposed a reconciliation of feeling and form through the philosophy of Schopenhauer: beauty resides in form, but music can reflect the Will.21 The ongoing rehabilitation of absolute music among a still later generation of Wagnerians is evident in the writings of the eminent English critic Ernest Newman (1868–1959), who in 1899 pointed out the inconsistencies in Wagner’s Zurich writings, the longer-term development of the composer’s thought between the early 1850s and 1870 (the date of the “Beethoven” essay), and the incongruities between the composer’s proclaimed theory and actual works. “It is curious,” Newman wryly observed, “how Wagner’s mere statement of his badly thought-out theories should prevent so many acute readers from noticing their radical contradiction with most of his practice.” Newman expressed the hope that his account of these inconsistencies would “afford a basis of compromise between the Wagnerians and the anti-Wagnerians.”22
The most extended and systematic attempt to reconcile the aesthetics of Wagner and Hanslick came from the pen of Ottokar Hostinský (1847–1910), a student of Smetana who would eventually become professor of aesthetics in his native Prague. In his Das Musikalisch-Schöne und das Gesammtkunstwerk vom Standpunkte der formalen Aesthetik (1877), Hostinský accepts Hanslick’s premise that every art has its own parameters of beauty, but he rejects the associated rhetoric of purity, arguing that while instrumental music is a reine Kunst, vocal music is superior as a Kunstverein or “union of the arts.”23 He quotes no fewer than three (p.244) times Hanslick’s observation that the union of poetry and music “extends the power of music but not its boundaries” and uses this to argue that the joining of the arts can create something more powerful than any one art alone. Hostinský was well aware of the audacity of blending the theories of Hanslick and Wagner, and he defended Hanslick’s treatise as having been “more attacked than comprehended, more condemned than understood.”24 His treatise offers the most dispassionate review of the dispute up to that time, taking note of the positions put forward by Ambros, Kullak, Laurencin, Stade, and others. Hanslick himself remained unconvinced. In the sixth edition (1881) of Vom Musikalisch-Schönen, he took note of Hostinský’s ideas, calling them “interesting and diligent” but confused, in that the first half of the treatise seemed to agree with the position of Vom Musikalisch-Schönen, while the second did not.25
The very fact that someone would even attempt to reconcile the positions of Hanslick and Wagner while both were still alive was significant enough in its own right. The noted historian and theorist Hugo Riemann (1849–1919) made similarly overt if less systematic efforts in this direction on more than one occasion when he sought to bring a degree of “equilibrium” to the opposition between the advocates of program and absolute music.26 In his essay “Das formale Element in der Musik” (1880), he does not deny the capacity of music to represent but insists that this does not belong to the fundamental essence of the art. Music is first and foremost a “spontaneous expression of feeling” and only secondarily an art of beauty, and form is what makes expression comprehensible.27
After Wagner’s death in 1883, commentators began to treat the polemics of the previous generation with a growing sense of critical and historical distance. Richard Wallaschek’s account in his Ästhetik der Tonkunst (1886) is remarkably balanced. A pioneer in the field of comparative musicology, Wallaschek (1860–1917) takes Hanslick to task for his overly formalistic approach, which ignores (p.245) issues of perception, and for failing to define beauty at any point in a treatise whose title includes that very word. He cites with special disapproval Hanslick’s assertion, added from the second edition onward, that “the beautiful is and remains beautiful, even when it arouses no emotions, indeed when it is neither perceived nor contemplated. Beauty is thus only for the pleasure of a perceiving subject, not generated through that subject.”28 Wallaschek nevertheless praises Hanslick for having taken on the “uncertain gropings” of “swooning idealists” and the “pronounced partisans of a certain school” at a time when the rest of the world would have “walked through fire” to defend their positions.29
Advances in the fields of psychology and physiology also helped make the distinction between different repertories of music less important than they had once seemed. By approaching art through issues of perception rather than form or content, psychologists such as Moritz Lazarus could agree with Hanslick that music cannot represent anything other than itself. In his Das Leben der Seele (1856–57), Lazarus observed that his differences with Vom Musikalisch-Schönen stemmed from a contrast between his focus on psychology and Hanslick’s on aesthetics. Hanslick “attends primarily to the content of music, I to the effect of it.” This distinction, Lazarus points out, “is far greater in music than in any other art.”30 Lazarus was in fact pursuing aesthetics in the original sense as proposed by Baumgarten and understood by Kant and others in the eighteenth century: the science of sensory cognition.
The acoustical and physiological discoveries of Hermann von Helmholtz also helped move the discussion beyond the binary opposition of absolute and program music. Early on in his epochal Lehre von den Tonempfindungen als physiologische Grundlage für die Theorie der Musik (1863), Helmholtz praises Hanslick for having made “unmistakable progress” in the aesthetics of music through his emphasis on the role of physical motion (Bewegung) in the art. But Helmholtz goes on to note that such advances must remain “fragmentary and uncertain” as long as we lack clarity about “their actual origin and foundation...in the scientific justification for the elementary rules for the construction of the scale, chords, and keys.” In contrast to the visual arts, music “strives for no verisimilitude with nature; tones and the perception of tones exist entirely for their own sake and affect us quite independently of any connection to external objects.”31 (p.246) From this “objective” perspective, then, the question of whether or not a given work of music might attempt to associate itself in some way with “external objects” becomes moot.
Gustav Mahler summed up the growing sense of reconciliation between absolute and program music in a letter to Arthur Seidl in 1897, in which he affirmed the critic’s earlier distinction between his own working methods and those of Richard Strauss. “You have accurately characterized my goals in contrast to those of Strauss,” Mahler wrote. “You are right that my ‘music finally arrives at a program as the last, ideal clarification, whereas with Strauss the program stands as a given task.’”32 Mahler went on to add: “Schopenhauer somewhere uses the image of two miners who dig a tunnel from opposite sides and then meet on their subterranean ways. That seems fittingly to characterize my relationship with Strauss.”33
Mahler was famously ambivalent about supplying programs for his own music. Scholars have interpreted his contradictory statements and actions on this count in a variety of ways, but his vacillation was more than merely personal: it reflects an era that was itself ambivalent on the issue.34 In the summer of 1904, he wrote to his friend the conductor Bruno Walter:
That our music involves in some way the “purely human” (everything that belongs to it, including therefore the “mental”) certainly cannot be denied. As in all art, it depends on the pure medium of expression, etc. etc. If one wants to make music, one may not paint, versify, or describe as well. But the music one creates is nevertheless the whole (and thus the feeling, thinking, breathing, suffering, etc.) human. There would really be nothing to say against a “program” (even if it is not the (p.247) highest rung on the ladder)—but a musician must speak in that case, and not a literary figure, a philosopher, or a painter (all of whom are incorporated within the musician).35
Particularly revealing here is Mahler’s “etc. etc.” The debate about the purity of expression is clearly old hat for Mahler and Walter alike. Program music has in any case ceded its midcentury status as the most progressive branch of the art: it is no longer “the highest rung on the ladder.”
In France, Gabriel Fauré (1845–1924) could advocate and create models of musique pure and yet also lavish praise on a work such as Strauss’s Ein Heldenleben.36 The English composer Edward Elgar (1857–1934), who had written numerous programmatic works earlier in his career, repressed the programs of his two symphonies (1908, 1911) and of his Violin Concerto (1910) and promoted the aesthetics of absolute music in lectures he delivered in Birmingham in 1905.37 Even Strauss, late in his life, would acknowledge (if only privately) that the aesthetic polarities of his earlier years—the very polarities he had helped intensify—had been exaggerated:
Our learned music scholars—I will name the two principal ones: Friedrich von Hausegger (“music as expression”) and Eduard Hanslick (“music as tonally moving form”)—gave us formulations that ever since have been considered antagonistic opposites. This is false. These are the two forms of musical construction, and they complement each other.38
(p.248) By 1909 the debate about the nature of absolute and program music had changed so fundamentally since the time of Wagner, Hanslick, and Liszt that Hugo Riemann saw fit to revise his entry on absolute music for his Musik-Lexikon for the first time since its original publication in 1882. From the first through the sixth (1905) edition of the work, Riemann had defined absolute music in terms of its partisans: the “hypermoderns,” who believed that “all music that does not express a poetic idea is empty play,” and the “ultraconservatives,” who “deny altogether the capacity of music to represent an object” (see p. 234). For the seventh edition of 1909, he dropped all reference to partisanship and defined absolute music partly in opposition to program music but also partly in conjunction with it. The revised entry reads in its entirety:
Absolute music (i.e., music in itself, without connections to other arts or to any representational object outside of itself) in contrast to “depictional” or “representative” or “program” music, i.e., to music that is intended to express something definite. When music turns to symbolism, i.e., to the intentional arousal of specific associational ideas through certain formulas or to the stylized imitations of noises, it leaves its intrinsic sphere and moves into the realm of poetry or the visual arts. For the essence of poetry consists of arousing and linking specific representations through conventional formulas (words); the essence of the visual arts does the same through the direct imitations of external appearances; both thus achieve the same final goal of all art, to move the soul, through an indirect path of which music has no need, as it is in itself freely flowing sentiment that transforms itself back into sentiment without the mediation of reason by the performer and listener.39
The polemical debate has lost its edge by this point: program music is now part of the musical mainstream, and absolute music is no longer associated with an “ultraconservative party.” Riemann’s emphasis in 1909 is on the common goals of these two varieties of instrumental music: even though their paths differ, they lead to the same destination. The route of absolute music is more direct and thus implicitly superior, for it has no need of any detour (Umweg—literally, (p.249) a “way around”) to reach its goal. But this is only a question of means; the end both seek is the same.
A similar sense of reconciliation is evident in Rudolf Louis’s 1909 survey of contemporary German music. Louis (1870–1914) was both a critic and a composer: he had published studies of Wagner, Liszt, and Berlioz, and his Proteus, a “symphonic fantasy, after Hebbel” for orchestra and organ, had been performed in 1903 at the festival of the Allgemeiner Deutscher Musikverein in Basel. His credentials as an heir to the tradition of the New German School were, in short, impeccable. Louis’s account of the current musical scene is nevertheless sympathetic to a wide range of composers. He calls the division of the musical world into two “wholly separate and adversarial camps” that began shortly after the middle of the nineteenth century an “unholy schism” and even acknowledges that his own earlier monograph on Liszt (1900) had been overly one-sided, a work of “propaganda and apology.”40 Louis announces that as far as program music is concerned, he is now prepared to distinguish between Liszt’s historical importance and his artistic achievements, particularly now that more and more composers are turning away from program music. In the same account Louis also deplores the New German School’s deprecation of Brahms in the last third of the nineteenth century as a product of prejudice and “party dogma.” This polarity had led the “progressives” to “crucify” Brahms as a formalist instead of learning from his art. Brahms’s supporters, in turn, had contributed to the “unholy schism” by failing to learn from the achievements of the New Germans and by making Brahms the “idol” of those who worshipped at the altar of academicism. With the benefit of historical distance, Louis maintains, we can now see that composers of the nineteenth century worked through the problems of program music more thoroughly than at any time before, and the gradual turn away from it at the present should not be understood to indicate that this repertory had been based on a false principle. If nothing else, he argues, program music had emancipated composers from the unthinking adherence to conventional schemata that had been handed down from one generation to the next. Louis warns against an over-reaction against program music, which would simply move the musical world from one extreme to the other.41
As it turns out, however, this is precisely what would happen. In a swing of the aesthetic pendulum, some of the most prominent composers active at the turn of the century chose to turn their backs on program music and embrace the aesthetics of purity offered by absolute music.
(1) . Carl Raphael Hennig, Die Aesthetik der Tonkunst (Leipzig: Johann Ambrosius Barth, 1896), 93–98. See the summary of Hennig’s treatise in Paul Moos, Moderne Musikästhetik in Deutschland: Historisch-kritische Uebersicht (Leipzig: Hermann Seemann Nachfolger, 1902), 326–27. For an overview of the lessening of tensions at the turn of the twentieth century, see Charles Youmans, Richard Strauss’s Orchestral Music and the German Intellectual Tradition: The Philosophical Roots of Musical Modernism (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2005), 3–15.
(2) . Sandra McColl, Music Criticism in Vienna, 1896–1897: Critically Moving Forms (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), 185–98.
(3) . Hanslick, Aus meinem Leben, 1:242. On the university’s deliberations over these appointments, see Karnes, Music, Criticism, and the Challenge of History, 21–37.
(4) . Hanslick, Die moderne Oper: Kritiken und Studien (Berlin: A. Hofmann, 1875), vi–vii. Hanslick, Aus meinem Leben, 1:243: “Was ist schön in der Musik? Ja, das haben verschiedene Zeiten, verschiedene Völker, verschiedene Schulen ganz verschieden beantwortet. Je mehr ich mich in historisches Musikstudium vertiefte, desto vager, luftiger zerflatterte die abstrakte Musikästhetik, fast wie eine Luftspiegelung, vor meinen Augen.”
(5) . On Wagner’s discovery of Schopenhauer, see Grey, Wagner’s Musical Prose, 38–42; Bryan Magee, The Philosophy of Schopenhauer (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997), 326–78; and Magee, Wagner and Philosophy (London: Allen Lane, 2000), 126–73.
(6) . Schopenhauer, Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung, 1:330: “Man könnte demnach die Welt eben so wohl verkörperte Musik, als verkörperten Willen nennen; daraus also ist es erklärlich, warum Musik jedes Gemälde, ja jede Scene des wirklichen Lebens und der Welt, sogleich in erhöhter Bedeutsamkeit hervortreten lässt.” Translation from Schopenhauer, The World as Will and Representation, 2 vols. (New York: Dover, 1966), trans. E. F. J. Payne, 1:262–63.
(7) . Schopenhauer, Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung, 1:330–31: “die Musik hingegen den innersten aller Gestaltung vorhergängigen Kern, oder das Herz der Dinge giebt.” Ibid., 1:324: “Die Musik ist also keineswegs, gleich den andern Künsten, das Abbild der Ideen, sondern Abbild des Willens selbst, dessen Objektität auch die Ideen sind: deshalb eben ist die Wirkung der Musik so sehr viel mächtiger und eindringlicher, als die der andern Künste: denn diese reden nur vom Schatten, sie aber vom Wesen.” Translation from Schopenhauer, The World as Will and Representation, trans. E. F. J. Payne, 1:257.
(8) . Schopenhauer to Julius Frauenstädt, letter of 21 August 1852, in Schopenhauer, Gesammelte Briefe, ed. Arthur Hübscher (Bonn: Bouvier, 1978), 291: “Meine Philosophie redet nie von Wolkenkukuksheim, sondern von dieser Welt, d.h., sie ist immanent, nicht transscendent. Sie liest die vorliegende Welt ab.” Emphasis in original.
(9) . Lydia Goehr, “Schopenhauer and the Musicians: An Inquiry into the Sounds of Silence and the Limits of Philosophizing about Music,” in Schopenhauer, Philosophy, and the Arts, ed. Dale Jacquette (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 208, 222. Emphasis in the original.
(10) . Wagner, “Über Franz Liszts symphonische Dichtungen,” GSD, 5:191: “Hören Sie meinen Glauben: die Musik kann nie und in keiner Verbindung, die sie eingeht, aufhören die höchste, die erlösendste Kunst zu sein. Es ist dies ihr Wesen, daß, was alle anderen Künste nur andeuten, durch sie und in ihr zur unbezweifeltsten Gewißheit, zur allerunmittelbarst bestimmenden Wahrheit wird.” PW, 3:246.
(11) . Wagner, “Zukunftsmusik,” GSD, 7:110: “So muß uns die Symphonie geradesweges als eine Offenbarung aus einer anderen Welt erscheinen; und in Wahrheit deckt sie uns einen von dem gewöhnlichen logischen Zusammenhang durchaus verschiedenen Zusammenhang der Phänomene der Welt auf, von welchem das eine zuvörderst unleugbar ist, nämlich, daß er mit der überwältigendsten Überzeugung sich uns aufdrängt und unser Gefühl mit einer solchen Sicherheit bestimmt, daß die logisierende Vernunft vollkommen dadurch verwirrt und entwaffnet wird.” PW, 3:318.
(12) . Wagner, “Beethoven,” GSD, 9:105 and 112. Klaus Kropfinger, Wagner and Beethoven: Richard Wagner’s Reception of Beethoven, trans. Peter Palmer (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 136–41, makes the case for anti-Hanslickian elements in the “Beethoven” essay.
(13) . Wagner, “Beethoven,” GSD, 9:103–4; see VMS, 1:55–56; OMB, 16–17.
(14) . Wagner, “Beethoven,” GSD, 9:71–72: “daß diese ganz anderen ästhetischen Gesetzen unterworfen sein muß, als jede andere Kunst.”
(15) . Alois John, Richard Wagner-Studien: Sieben Essays über Richard Wagner’s Kunst und seine Bedeutung im modernen Leben (Bayreuth: Carl Gießel, 1889), 39–40. John’s work won enthusiastic praise from an anonymous reviewer in the pro-Wagnerian English journal The Meister 5 (21 July 1892): 94–95.
(16) . John, Richard Wagner-Studien, 39: “eine so ureigene, selbstherrliche Kraft ist die absolute Musik, ein Freisein, ein Losgewordensein von aller Regel und Schule, jeder Autorität und conventionellen Sitte. Der alte Stil, die fromme Melodie, das gefällige Spiel reichte nicht mehr aus oder wäre zur Carricatur geworden für die gewaltigen Gedankenkreise des neuen Kunstwerkes, für diese von Kraft, Heroismus und Leidenschaft durchglühten Gestalten. Dieselbe Nothwendigkeit, die eine neue Sprache erzeugte, mußte auch eine neue musikalische, eine absolute Musik erzeugen.”
(17) . Francis Hueffer, Richard Wagner and the Music of the Future: History and Aesthetics (London: Chapman & Hall, 1874), 106, 223, 190, 46.
(18) . Francis Hueffer, Half a Century of Music in England, 1837–1887: Essays towards a History (London: Chapman & Hall, 1889), 235–36.
(19) . Francis Hueffer, “Arthur Schopenhauer,” Fortnightly Review 20 (1876): 773–92. Hueffer published an expanded version of this essay, with additional remarks dealing specifically with music, in Hueffer, Musical Studies: A Series of Contributions (Edinburgh: Adam & Charles Black, 1880), 85–129.
(20) . Wilhelm Tappert, Für und Wider: Eine Blumenlese aus den Berichten über die Aufführungen des Bühnenweihfestspieles Parsifal (Berlin: Theodor Barth, 1882), 7.
(21) . Paul Schneider, Über das Darstellungsvermögen der Musik: Eine Untersuchung an der Hand von Prof. Ed. Hanslick’s Buch “Vom Musikalisch-Schönen” (Oppeln and Leipzig: Eugen Frank, 1892), 124–25.
(22) . Ernest Newman, A Study of Wagner (London: Bertram Dobell, 1899), 129, 255.
(23) . Ottokar Hostinský, Das Musikalisch-Schöne und das Gesammtkunstwerk vom Standpuncte der formalen Aesthetik: Eine Studie (Leipzig: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1877), 147. The treatise was Hostinský’s Habilitationsschrift in philosophy at the University of Prague. Excerpts in an English translation by Martin Cooper are available in Music in European Thought, 1851–1912, ed. Bojan Bujić (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), 132–58. For further commentary on Hostinský, see Dahlhaus, Die Idee der absoluten Musik, 40–42; Schneider, “Form versus Gehalt,” 47–49; and Felix Wörner, “Otakar Hostinský, the Musically Beautiful, and the Gesamtkunstwerk,” in Rethinking Hanslick: Music, Formalism, and Expression, ed. Nicole Grimes, Siobhán Donovan, and Wolfgang Marx (Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2013), 70–87.
(24) . Hostinský, Das Musikalisch-Schöne, 71, 80, 134, citing VMS, 1:53: “Die Vereinigung mit der Dichtkunst erweitert die Macht der Musik, aber nicht ihre Gränzen.” Hostinský, Das Musikalisch-Schöne, 5: “das ihr zu Grunde liegende Princip [wurde] mehr bekämpft, als begriffen, mehr verdammt, als verstanden.”
(25) . VMS, 1:15; this passage is not in OMB.
(26) . Hugo Riemann, “Programmmusik, Tonmaleri und musikalischer Kolorismus,” Die Grenzboten 41, no. 3 (1882): 76: “was ich thun will, nämlich einen Beitrag liefern zur Ausgleichung des Gegensatzes zwischen den Verfechtern der Programmmusik und denen der absoluten Musik.” Riemann republished the essay in his Präludien und Studien, 3 vols. (Leipzig: Hermann Seemann Nachfolger, 1895–1901), 1:54–64.
(27) . Riemann, “Das formale Element in der Musik,” Die Grenzboten 39 (1880): 203–4: “in erster Linie spontaner Empfindungsausdruck.”
(28) . Richard Wallaschek, Ästhetik der Tonkunst (Stuttgart: W. Kohlhammer, 1886), 139, quoting VMS, 1:26. On the sources and implications of this passage in VMS, see above, p. 189.
(29) . Wallaschek, Ästhetik der Tonkunst, 146: “das unsichere Tappen schwärmerischer Idealisten und prononcierter Parteigänger einer gewissen Schule”; “wo alle Welt für solche Lehren ins Feuer gegangen ware.”
(30) . Lazarus, Das Leben der Seele, 2:314: “weil...er auf den Inhalt, ich auf die Wirkung derselben vorzüglich achte; ein Unterschied, welcher bei der Musik weitaus größer ist als bei jeder anderen Kunst.”
(31) . Hermann von Helmholtz, Die Lehre von den Tonempfindungen als physiologische Grundlage für die Theorie der Musik (Braunschweig: Vieweg & Sohn, 1863), 2–4: “Inzwischen hat die Aesthetik der Musik...unverkennbare Fortschritte gemacht, namentlich dadurch, dass man den Begriff der Bewegung bei der Untersuchung der musikalischen Kunstwerke betont hat....Aber alle diese Untersuchungen...müssen lückenhaft und unsicher bleiben, so lange ihnen ihr eigentlicher Anfang und ihre Grundlage fehlt, nämlich die wissenschaftliche Begründung der elementaren Regeln für die Construction der Tonleiter, der Accorde, der Tonarten....In der Musik...wird gar keine Naturwahrheit erstrebt, die Töne und Tonempfindungen sind ganz allein ihrer selbst wegen da und wirken ganz unabhängig von ihrer Beziehung zu irgend einem äusseren Gegenstande.”
(32) . Gustav Mahler to Arthur Seidl, letter of 17 February 1897, in Mahler, Briefe, 2nd ed., ed. Herta Blaukopf (Vienna: Paul Zsolnay, 1996), 222: “Sie haben recht, daß meine Musik schließlich zum Programm als letzter ideeller Verdeutlichung gelangt, währenddem bei Strauss das Programm als gegebenes Pensum daliegt.” Translation from Stephen E. Hefling, “Miners Digging from Opposite Sides: Mahler, Strauss, and the Problem of Program Music,” in Richard Strauss: New Perspectives on the Composer and His Work, ed. Bryan Gilliam (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1992), 41.
(33) . Mahler to Seidl, 17 February 1897, in Mahler, Briefe, 224: “Schopenhauer gebraucht irgendwo das Bild zweier Bergleute, die von entgegengesetzten Seiten in einen Schacht hineingraben und sich dann auf ihrem unterirdischen Wege begegnen. So kommt mir mein Verhältnis zu Strauss treffend gezeichnet vor.” Translation from Hefling, “Miners,” 41. Seidl later published this portion of Mahler’s letter in his Moderner Geist in der deutschen Tonkunst (Berlin: Verlagsgesellschaft für Literatur und Kunst “Harmonie,” 1901), 61.
(34) . On the many problems associated with ascribing any one particular point of view to Mahler in regard to program music, see Vera Micznik, “Music and Aesthetics: The Programmatic Issue,” in The Cambridge Companion to Mahler, ed. Jeremy Barham (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 35–49. For an interpretation of Mahler’s symphonies that emphasizes their programmatic elements, see Constantin Floros, Gustav Mahler, 3 vols. (Wiesbaden: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1977–85).
(35) . Mahler to Bruno Walter, letter of summer 1904, from Mahler, Briefe, 316: “ Daß unsere Musik das ‘rein Menschliche’ (alles was dazu gehört, also auch das ‘Gedankliche’) in irgendeiner Weise involviert, ist ja doch nicht zu leugnen. Es kommt wie in aller Kunst, eben auf die reinen Mittel des Ausdrucks an, etc. etc. Wenn man musizieren will, darf man nicht malen, dichten, beschreiben wollen. Aber was man musiziert, ist doch immer der ganze (also fühlende, denkende, atmende, leidende etc.) Mensch. Es wäre ja auch weiter nichts gegen ein ‘Programm’ einzuwenden (wenn es auch nicht gerade die höchste Staffel der Leiter ist)—aber ein Musiker muß sich da aussprechen und nicht ein Literat, Philosoph, Maler (alle die sind im Musiker enthalten).” Emphasis in original.
(36) . See Carlo Caballero, Fauré and French Musical Aesthetics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 48–53, 250–56.
(37) . See Edward Elgar, A Future for English Music and Other Lectures, ed. Percy M. Young (London: Dennis Dobson, 1968), 105–8. See also Ernest Newman, Elgar (London: John Lane, 1922), “Appendix: Elgar and Programme Music,” 176–85.
(38) . Quoted in Willi Schuh, Richard Strauss: Jugend und frühe Meisterjahre: Lebenschronik 1864–1898 (Zurich: Atlantis, 1976), 155: “Unsere Musikgelehrten—ich nenne die beiden Hauptnamen: Friedrich von Hausegger (‘Musik als Ausdruck’) und Eduard Hanslick (‘Musik als tönend bewegte Form’)—haben Formulierungen gegeben, die seither als feindliche Gegensätze gelten. Dies ist falsch. Es sind die beiden Formen musikalischen Gestaltens, die sich gegenseitig ergänzen.” Strauss’s comments appear in a memoir believed to have been written in the late 1930s, although it was not published until 1949, the year of his death.
(39) . Riemann, “Absolute Musik,” in Riemann, Musik-Lexikon, 7th ed. (Leipzig: Max Hesse, 1909): “Absolute Musik (d.h. Musik an sich, ohne Beziehung zu andern Künsten oder zu irgendwelchen außer ihr liegenden Vorstellungsobjekten) im Gegensatz zur ‘malenden’ oder ‘darstellenden’ oder ‘Programm’-Musik, d.h. zu der Musik, die etwas Bestimmtes ausdrücken soll. Die Musik tritt, wenn sie zur Symbolik, d.h. zur absichtlichen Erweckung bestimmter Ideenassoziationen durch gewisse Formeln oder zur stilisierten Nachahmung von Geräuschen greift, aus ihrem eigensten Gebiet heraus und in das der Poesie oder darstellenden Kunst über. Denn das Wesen der Poesie besteht darin, durch konventionelle Formeln (die Worte) bestimmte Vorstellungen zu wecken und zu verketten, das der darstellenden Kunst in der direkten Nachbildung der äußeren Erscheinungen; beide erreichen also das Endziel aller Kunst, die Seele zu bewegen, auf Umwegen, deren die Musik nicht bedarf, da sie selbst frei ausströmende Empfindung ist und ohne Vermittlung des Verstandes beim Spieler und Hörer sich wieder in Empfindung umsetzt.”
(40) . Rudolf Louis, Die deutsche Musik der Gegenwart (Munich and Leipzig: Georg Müller, 1909), 130: “zwei vollständig geschiedene feindliche Lager...dieses unheilvolle Schisma.” Ibid., 136: “Propaganda und Apologie.”