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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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The paper you read here goes back - at least in its genesis - to an article "on the difficulties of dealing with feelings" in thinking about music in the twentieth century which I published in the Österreichische Musikzeitschrift in 1996323. In this, I attempted to distinguish historical phases of musical poetics during the timespan mentioned above, focusing on the thinking of individual composers: an early or classical Modernist phase dialectically contrasting Igor Stravinsky and Anton Webern, an interim or high Modernist one contrasting Pierre Boulez and Luigi Nono, and a late Modernist phase, or at least one which leads in that direction, with the mix of positions illustrated by Wolfgang Rihm, Helmut Lachenmann, Dieter Schnebel and Hans-Jürgen von Bose, which can no longer be described in terms of dialectical polarization. The editorial board of the journal had, prior to printing it, sent the manuscript of this article to a number of composers, inviting them to give their comments and their own personal views on the themes discussed in it.

Some of these commentaries made us at the time, and continue to make us re-examine our premises. Thus the Taiwanese-Austrian composer Shih (born 1950) stated, in a manner which many of his colleagues would surely have considered naive: he hoped that in the twenty-first century "it would once again be permissible for a composer too to display feelings"324. We, as Europeans of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, have the problem that we feel bound...

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