Essays on the philosophy of music /
Ernst Bloch ; translated by Peter Palmer ; with an introduction by David Drew.
Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge University Press, c1985.
xlviii, 250 p.
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Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge University Press, c1985.
contents note
The philosophy of music -- Magic rattle, human harp -- Paradoxes and the pastorale in Wagner's music -- On the mathematical and dialectical character in music -- The exceeding of limits and the world of man at its most richly intense in music.
general note
Translated from German.
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references and index.
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Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1986-04:
These essays-by the Marxist philosopher, not the composer-are translated here to commemorate his centenary. Of the five selections, the first and fifth, the longest, are extracts from two of Bloch's principal works: Geist der Utopie (Munich, 1918) and Das Prinzip Hoffnung (Frankfurt, 1959). The three intervening essays are self-contained inquiries into the human voice, paradoxes in Wagner's music, and the mathematical and dialectical character of music. Bloch is expressionistic in his writing. It is turgid, to say the least, abounding in vague and obscure metaphors, symbols, and allusions, extending at times to three-page paragraphs. His background includes studies in music and physics as well as philosophy. He has an excellent command of music history and literature although his opinions will probably raise rather than smooth readers' hackles, especially those of specialists in the medieval and early Renaissance periods and anyone concerned with performance practice. This is in part because Bloch is a progressivist: music improves as time goes on, therefore the music of the distant past is not so affective as that of more recent times. The earliest musical geniuses he recognizes are Lassus and Palestrina and the two pinnacles of music history for him are Beethoven and Wagner, even though he acknowledges some faults in the latter. Given the manner and the substance of this collection, it can be recommended only for advanced students in philosophy and music.-R. Stahura, Ripon College
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, April 1986
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Table of Contents
Translator's prefacep. vii
Introductionp. xi
The philosophy of musicp. 1
Dreamp. 1
On The History Of Musicp. 1
Beginningsp. 2
The Method
The technical succession
The sociological context
The explosive youth of music
The problem of a philosophy of musical history
Fulness and its Schema
The song
On Mozart
The Passions
Bach, his form and his object
Open-ended song and Fidelio
Missa solemnis
The birth of the sonata
Brahms and chamber music
Beethoven, his form, his object and the spirit of the sonata
Strauss, Mahler, Bruckner
On Wagner
False polemics
Speech-song, syncopated rhythm and chordal polyphony
The transcendent opera and its object
On The Theory Of Musicp. 66
Practice and composition
The creative musical setting
Interpretation, or On the relation between absolute and speculative music
The 'what' of expression in general
The philosophical theory of music
Means, formulae, forms and phenomenal aspect of the transcending theory of music
The note as means
The theory of harmony as formula
Relations of rhythm as form
Bachian and Beethovenian counterpointing as form and incipient ideogram
The note again, not as a means but as a phenomenal entity
On the thing-in-itself in music
The Mysteryp. 133
Magic rattle, human harpp. 140
Paradoxes and the pastorale in Wagner's musicp. 146
Some Preliminary Remarksp. 146
Starting Afreshp. 148
The Question of Bel Cantop. 149
The Question of the Paradoxesp. 151
The Question of the 'Omniscient' Leitmotifp. 168
The Question of the Resonant Pastoralep. 175
On the mathematical and dialectical character in music (Essay, 1925)p. 183
The exceeding of limits and the world of man at its most richly intense in musicp. 195
The Good Fortune of the Blindp. 195
Syrinx the Nymphp. 196
Bizarre Hero and Nymph: 'Symphonie Fantastique'p. 197
Human Expression as Inseparable From Musicp. 199
Music as Canon and Ordered World; Harmony of the Spheres, More Humane Pole-Starsp. 208
Tone-Painting; Work of Nature Again; the Intensity and Morality of Musicp. 219
The Hollow Space; the Subject of the Sonata and Fuguep. 228
Funeral March, Requiem, Procession Behind Deathp. 236
Marseillaise and Twinkling of an Eye in 'Fidelio'p. 241
Translator's notesp. 244
Index of persons and musical worksp. 247
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