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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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IV Emotional Romanticism?

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IV

Emotional Romanticism?

The theme of what role emotionality played in the musical thinking of the Romantic period is fraught with far too many trite notions and assumptions which are taken as given. After all, Romanticism is equated with a culture of emotionality, a culture dominated by emotion; and whoever imagines that essays in the cultural sciences avoid such commonplaces would be very surprised to discover just how often the Romantic epoch is brought into relation with the mundane connotations generally attributed to the "romantic" in such writings . Nevertheless, we do not undertake to reject this view lightly, since approaching it in a more differentiated way, while it debunks some of these truisms, in fact vindicates others.

The problematic nature of the whole complex of emotion seems even to be intensified in the case of music. The constantly repeated reference to emotion already sparked those anti-reactions typified in Eduard Hanslick's Vom Musikalisch-Schönen in the nineteenth century, and in the twentieth century they became even more radical: emotions are studiously ignored, they lead a repressed existence in the inner life of the individual, or are banished to the trivial subculture of pop music and folk music all dressed up for a TV show. Some of us long for a return to the time when the emotional experience was a common matrix linking "high-brow" and "low-brow", folk culture.

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