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«Seiner Leidenschaften Meister sein» - «In control of the passions»

Zur Reflexion des Gefühls im Musikdenken - Emotion as reflected in musical thinking

Joachim Noller

Was heißt es, wenn Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach vom ausführenden Musiker fordert, er müsse selbst gerührt sein, bevor er seine Zuhörer in Rührung versetzen könne? Der Autor schreibt über die Idee der Emotion, über ihre Rolle im Szenario sogenannter Musikanschauung (von ca. 1750 bis heute). Von Interesse ist dabei weniger die Gefühlshaltigkeit der Musik selbst, als vielmehr die Art, wie das Musikdenken dieselbe be- und verhandelt; nicht Emotionen in tatsächlicher Wirkung, sondern wie sie, als Denkfigur, in musikalischen Zusammenhängen theoretisch bewältigt werden.
What does it mean when Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach demands that a performing musician must himself be moved before he can move his listeners? The author writes about the idea of emotions and their role in the scenario of what is called music appreciation (from about 1750 till the present day). His focus is not primarily on the emotional content of music as such, but rather the way in which it is treated in thinking about music; not on the actual impact of emotions, but the way in which they have been thought about in a musical context, as concepts around which a theoretical discourse crystallizes.
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III The “Triumph” of Sensibility

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III

The "Triumph" of Sensibility

The aesthetic ideas surrounding the expression of "feeling", which have been the object of fierce controversy among musicologists for so long and were regarded as having reached a historical conclusion, although in reality the discussion continues unabated, had their seminal phase in the eighteenth century. In fact they constitute a whole complex which can only be discussed here in outline: aesthetic emotionality is understood as being a form of expression which is generated by a human subject, the creator of the work of art, and consists of communicated feelings which are in the first instance felt in their turn by performing musicians, singers and instrumentalists, and finally by the audience; seen from another perspective, this demands a high degree of empathy or ability to put themselves in the place of another individual, from the interpreters of music as well as those who respond to it. The ostentatious display of feeling in performance (not only in music) and its underpinning in theory has a function: it asserts naturalness, it claims a certain closeness to untrammelled, pristine reality, which is now exemplified in the inner life of the human being. And it rejects the artificiality of an "older" aesthetic ideal with its allegedly outmoded canon of rules, it rebels against an aestheticism which has become alienated from the thinking and feeling of real people. At any rate the reasons underlying such ideas might - perhaps a little clumsily to begin...

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