The Expression of Emotion in Instrumental Music

Jenefer Robinson

in Deeper than Reason

Published in print April 2005 | ISBN: 9780199263653
Published online February 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780191603211 | DOI:
The Expression of Emotion in Instrumental Music

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The real challenge to the doggy theorists comes with instrumental music. In Immer leiser, there is a dramatic protagonist who really does seem to be expressing her emotions, but in a ‘pure’ instrumental piece of music such as Brahms's Intermezzo opus 117 no. 2, there does not seem to be anyone expressing anything. It is argued that some pieces of instrumental music, of which the Intermezzo is one, should be heard as expressions of emotion in a persona in the music. This Intermezzo can appropriately be interpreted as embodying a psychological drama, a conflict between two aspects of a person's character or two viewpoints on a situation. Interpreting it as an expression of emotion in this way helps explain why the piece strikes listeners as so profound and moving. The case is made by means of a fairly detailed analysis of the piece.

Keywords: Brahms; Intermezzo; persona; psychological drama

Chapter.  9645 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art

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