Event Title

Music Critic Eduard Hanslick's Aesthetics and Reviews

Location

Edwards 102

Document Type

Oral/PowerPoint Presentation (10 minutes and 5 minute Q and A)

Description

Eduard Hanslick was a 19th century Austrian music critic whose aesthetic writings are heatedly debated and are seeing a resurgence in music scholarship today. Within his treatise Vom Musikalisch-Schönen, Hanslick debates the generally retained belief that the intrinsic purpose of music, as an art form, is to be a vehicle for expressing emotions. Hanslick diametrically argues that music itself is incapable of describing specific feelings. This is due to the failure of music portrayed as language because it does not possess a specific syntax. However, there is one caveat to his argument that does not completely separate music from emotion. Hanslick contends that music cannot describe a specific emotion; he posits that dynamic properties of music such as strength, speed, or waxing and waning can describe movement associated with a specific emotion. It is revealed that although music cannot impose meaning itself it can color an already defined subject or idea. A prime example is within the unity of music and text found in operas, oratorios, and song. The words define a clear subject or feeling and the music gives it multidimensionality by imbuing it with the properties of movement. With Hanslick being a music critic one wonders how much of his aesthetic notions influenced his reviews of musical works. This presentation will serve to examine two of his reviews in regard to his aesthetic notions. The reviews chosen are of the contemporary operas “Otello” by Giuseppe Verdi and “Tristan und Isolde” by Richard Wagner.

Start Date

26-4-2014 10:20 AM

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Apr 26th, 10:20 AM

Music Critic Eduard Hanslick's Aesthetics and Reviews

Edwards 102

Eduard Hanslick was a 19th century Austrian music critic whose aesthetic writings are heatedly debated and are seeing a resurgence in music scholarship today. Within his treatise Vom Musikalisch-Schönen, Hanslick debates the generally retained belief that the intrinsic purpose of music, as an art form, is to be a vehicle for expressing emotions. Hanslick diametrically argues that music itself is incapable of describing specific feelings. This is due to the failure of music portrayed as language because it does not possess a specific syntax. However, there is one caveat to his argument that does not completely separate music from emotion. Hanslick contends that music cannot describe a specific emotion; he posits that dynamic properties of music such as strength, speed, or waxing and waning can describe movement associated with a specific emotion. It is revealed that although music cannot impose meaning itself it can color an already defined subject or idea. A prime example is within the unity of music and text found in operas, oratorios, and song. The words define a clear subject or feeling and the music gives it multidimensionality by imbuing it with the properties of movement. With Hanslick being a music critic one wonders how much of his aesthetic notions influenced his reviews of musical works. This presentation will serve to examine two of his reviews in regard to his aesthetic notions. The reviews chosen are of the contemporary operas “Otello” by Giuseppe Verdi and “Tristan und Isolde” by Richard Wagner.