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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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VII Music theorists in a battle royal over emotions


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Music theorists in a battle royal over emotions

1. Emotions beyond the aesthetics of emotion: "Hanslick was right"?

There is probably no essay in music theory which has been read more often and provoked more comment - not only in the German-speaking world - than Eduard Hanslick's Vom Musikalisch-Schönen, so that one might think that everything that is to be said on this subject has already been said457. And yet it is conspicuous that nearly all these commentators argue from one perspective only; the focus lies on "tönend bewegte Form", the "form which moves in sounds", whether the author accepts this formula or rejects it. Hanslick's polemic is not infrequently taken as a negation of any relation between music and emotion; one unbroken strand of reception leads from the reactions to the first edition of 1854 to the present day. As one recent example, we quote from an essay in the British Journal of Aesthetics which only allows an emotional relation for the terms used in describing music and the effects of music in a metaphorical sense: "What is clear is that in neither case are we describing genuine emotion or some relation to genuine emotion. Hanslick was right"458. This is the essay's final word, and its title sums up its quintessential argument: Against emotion: Hanslick was right about music.

But does this do justice to Hanslick? If emotion can be disregarded in determining the...

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