2nd Unrevised Edition
Edited By Tasos Zembylas
The Sociological Concept of the Kunstwollen and its Origins in the Austrian School of Art History and Musicology
Music sociology is sometimes accused of not having firmly established its repertoire of methods.2 Such an accusation is based on the assumption that musicology can draw its sociological tools from sociology in useable finished parts. This expectation clouds the view for the sociological questions and methods that do not stem from theories in sociology but have been developed by musicology itself. This includes the theory of Kunstwollen3 and its linking with empirical research, as it was developed by the Vienna art historian Alois Riegl (1858–1905) and taken into the methods of musicology by Guido Adler. This concept is inseparably linked with a style of thought that in Adler’s surroundings the natural sciences, jurisprudence and above all the Vienna School of Art History were attached to.
Alois Riegl’s pupil Hans Tietze wrote a Method of Art History,4 which Guido Adler’s Method of Music History5 picked up, not only echoing the title but in its content. Both methods were based on the idea that the social (and thereby also artistic) processes are accessible to scientific analysis. Adler’s friend and patron, the physicist Ernst Mach, had already argued this thesis in 1863, in his Lectures on Psychophysics, and in particular had pointed to the application of statistical methods and their use in the understanding of such processes. The strict separation of the so-called exact sciences from the cultural sciences had no place in this concept. Nothing that was typical of a particular genre of science was...
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