Pacifism, Political Action, and Artistic Endeavor

Philip Brett

in Music and Sexuality in Britten

Published by University of California Press

Published in print November 2006 | ISBN: 9780520246096
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520939127 | DOI:
Pacifism, Political Action, and Artistic Endeavor

Show Summary Details


This chapter inquires into the cause for the conspicuous absence of erotic portrayal through music based on the theory propounded by Eduard Hanslick in his work On The Musically Beautiful (1854). It seeks to assert the intrinsic value of music as opposed to the Aristotlean theory of imitation of nature by art. Hanslick asserts that rather than slavishly imitate nature, music should transform it. He envisages a balance in the instrumental nature of music rather than absolutely negating or rejecting it. By declaring that music does not consider “the beautiful in nature,” Hanslick renders music as superior to other arts relevant to the Age of Progress. To this end, Beethoven's abstract musical is deemed superior to his An die ferne Geliebte (To the Distant Beloved), due to the absence of specificity in the former, which enhances the scope of yearning at the center of Romanticism.

Keywords: Eduard Hanslick; Musically Beautiful; Aristotle; artistic endeavor; Age of Progress; Beethoven; Romanticism; erotic portrayal

Chapter.  4773 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.