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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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VI A theological slant on the aesthetics of expression


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A theological slant on the aesthetics of expression

Historical developments after the mid-eighteenth century see the establishment of a poetics which postulates the expression of feelings, but does not restrict its concept of them to pathos, which the Ancient Greeks already characterized as fickle, regarding them rather as a carrier conveying all ethical values, all metaphysical commodities. The artist expresses, and the recipient partakes of the spiritual goods packaged in emotional form by opening himself to them through empathy. A species of communion is established between the absent artist (in the case of music, the composer) and the recipient (in the musical domain, the listener). The religious connotations of this process could hardly be more obvious: the way art is seen assumes corresponding forms, in other words: art is given a religious superstructure and indeed is identified with it. This raises, however, the question as to whether the religiosity mentioned above is the establishment of something new or the reinstatement of long-existing older values, whether the artistic forms of such religious feeling can lay any claim to authenticity of expression, or whether this is not merely a substitute, a provisional makeshift shelter or a displacement phenomenon, a surrogate for a faith in crisis.

From the standpoint of Christian theology, this development must be seen in a highly critical light: the artist as a manufacturer of metaphysical goods, as the intermediary between the divine and the human worlds, the artist who...

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