Lawrence Kramer

in Interpreting Music

Published by University of California Press

Published in print February 2010 | ISBN: 9780520267053
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520947368 | DOI:

Show Summary Details


This book is about musical hermeneutics. It provides a broad survey of “interpreting music” in the two complementary senses of the phrase: understanding musical works and performing musical scores. Hermeneutics is the art of interpretation. Embracing the Enlightenment model endows subjectivity with certain rights and dignities based precisely on its singularity, its irreplaceability, its finitude—even its opacity to itself. In the diversity of its results and its striving to maintain its own openness—no easy thing—open interpretation as a cultural practice continually reanimates this conception. And so does music, insofar as we link music to feeling, sensation, emotion, memory, and desire. Subjects make interpretations; interpretations make subjects. On what terms? To address this issue, we need to revisit two of the founding texts of hermeneutics, Friedrich Schleiermacher's “The Hermeneutics: Outline of the 1819 Lectures” and Hans-Georg Gadamer's Truth and Method (1960). The book also examines the objections to musical hermeneutics that are conveniently clumped together in a review by Richard Taruskin of several books about the concept of classical music.

Keywords: music; musical hermeneutics; interpretation; subjectivity; Friedrich Schleiermacher; Hans-Georg Gadamer; Richard Taruskin; musical works; musical scores

Chapter.  8830 words. 

Subjects: Music Theory and Analysis

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.