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Kurt Blaukopf on Music Sociology – an Anthology

2nd Unrevised Edition


Edited By Tasos Zembylas

This anthology contains seven texts by Kurt Blaukopf (1914–1999) that exemplify the sociological and epistemological position of this pioneer of Austrian music sociology. Blaukopf’s efforts were aimed at a comprehensive, interdisciplinary approach and analysis of music as a cultural phenomenon and as social practice. The primary aim of this anthology is to make Blaukopf’s work better known in the English-speaking world. It offers the interested reader a fruitful analysis of the relation between music sociology and its sister disciplines, e.g. musicology, a solid analysis in terms of the philosophy of science on the possibilities and limits of music sociology, and a highly topical discussion about the significance of intrinsic artistic aspects in music sociology.
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The Concept of Progress in Music Sociology



If one tends to assume that “ways to a formulated theory of progress in music are in principle possible”,2 then it is recommendable to examine the aspects in music where it is possible to talk of progress. Music sociology poses itself this question. It distinguishes at least three such aspects:

a)    progress in artistic development itself;

b)    progress in the development and use of the technical means employed for the creation and dissemination of music;

c)    progress in the realisation of the democratic policy demand to facilitate participation in music culture and access to music culture for the greatest possible number of people.

Each of these questions deserves to be treated separately.

Progress in Artistic Development

For a long time a Eurocentric view led to modern occidental music being regarded as the “highest”. There are still traces of this way of thinking in Hermann Kretzschmar. Hegel had already expressed fundamental reservations about it. In reference to older works of fine art, which to modern aesthetic awareness appeared imperfect or clumsy, Hegel said that their creation would just have corresponded to a different aesthetic consciousness. What seemed imperfect to later observers was “not unintentional technical inexpertness and incapacity, but conscious alteration, which depends upon the content that is in consciousness, and is, in fact, demanded by it”.3

This understanding of a respectively specific aesthetic consciousness established itself in the Vienna School of...

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