Reference Entry


Deniz Ertan

in Oxford Music Online

Published in print November 2013 |
Published online May 2016 | e-ISBN: 9781561592630 | DOI:

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  • Musical Structures, Styles, and Techniques
  • Music and Religion
  • Romantic Music


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Generally defined as a religion-philosophy-science, founded by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (b Russia [now Ukraine], 1831; d 1891). Blavatsky first came to the United States on 7 July 1873, arriving in New York City. In 1875, she formed the Theosophical Society together with William Quan Judge, Henry Steel Olcott, and others. Three years later, Blavatsky left the United States. In 1895, the Theosophical Society in America split from the international Theosophical Society Adyar (India), which was led by Annie Besant. Among America’s prominent theosophical centers that attracted and brought together artists and intellectuals were the Theosophical Society (Pasadena, California, founded 1875); Halcyon, California (founded 1898; home of the Temple of the People), Lomaland, California (founded 1900), and the United Lodge of Theosophists (New York; founded 1909). As of 2001, there were 130 centers and societies in the United States alone active as theosophical lodges.

Committed to shape the modern world and broaden human consciousness, early 20th-century theosophists wished to establish a universal brotherhood of humanity. Theosophy accepts the existence of three fields: matter, motion, and self (and its eternity). Principal concepts include consciousness/spirit (Brahma), Light-Substance, evolutionary and cosmological cycles, and spiritual progress. Regarding all religions as branches of the collective trunk (“Divine Wisdom”) and holding Truth higher than any religion, Theosophy’s philosophical system aims at a hidden, syncretic wisdom that would explain human existence, Nature, and the universe. Key theosophical texts—such as ...

Reference Entry.  548 words. 

Subjects: Musical Structures, Styles, and Techniques ; Music and Religion ; Romantic Music

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