Karol Berger

in Bach's Cycle, Mozart's Arrow

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2007 | ISBN: 9780520250918
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520933699 | DOI:

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This chapter tells the story of the transition from the premodern Christian moral-political outlook to the modern post-Christian worldview, providing a larger context for the musical developments, a context for understanding how people got, in a mere sixty years, from a work like the St. Matthew Passion to a work like Don Giovanni. It presents the perspective from which the music is seen here, recounting the emergence of human autonomy and a consequent transformation in the fundamental experience and understanding of how time is shaped. This is the story of how people exchanged time's cycle for time's arrow, and why. In their thinking about both the moral and the natural realms, the moderns shifted the balance of their esteem decisively from eternity, rest, and immutability toward time, motion, and change. Modernity, scientific as well as moral-political, is at bottom an attempt to emancipate linear time.

Keywords: premodern Christian; post-Christian worldview; St. Matthew Passion; human autonomy; time's arrow; linear time

Chapter.  21272 words. 

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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