Schopenhauer and Wagner
01. Intro. We are going to have to delay some of the presentations,
maybe up to Spring Break.
02. More about Liszt:
- I am going in circles/spirals. Coming back to the same ideas...
- Aesthetics but not too scholarly - I am a composer...
- Musicology but not too scholarly - more practical than strict.
- The necessity of listening to the music discussed (Tristan,
Liszt). Tristan, like Beethoven's last String Quartets and
Piano Sonatas, like the Art of Fugue - absolute necessity to
know them if you are a musician.
- The tonal system as hierarchy - typical Enlightenment mentality
- Back to Petrarca's Sonet 104 - 3d relationship,
- Jeux d'eau a villa d'Este - modal, parallel movement.
- Finish last week's presentation (audience, etc.)
1. Schopenhauer - The World as Will and Representation. Influence of
past philosophers on the arts: Hegel's thesis-antithesis-synthesis and
the sonata form; Kant: the thing in itself. Schopenhauer's theory:
- We know the world as representation; this requires an object and a
subject. All representations conform to the Principle of Sufficient
Reason (Kant) - i.e. involve time, space and causality.
Scientific/materialistic thinking tries to describe the world as such.
- This does not explain the why. The answer is the WILL.
We know directly the will from the representation of our own body/self.
The will permeates everything and objectivates itself in various forms
but the Will is one, same in me as in a stone. Sort of an universal
desire. The Will is outside time and space and causality.
- The world as representation includes particular phenomena, diverse
- the Will is one.
- Platonic IDEAS are objectivations of the will, still outside space,
time and causality. Art 's purpose is to present such IDEAS, removed
from particulars, showing them through apparently "real", particular
- Music is a special art and Schopenhauer admits that he can not
logically explain the difference: it represents the world itself in
its totality (any piece of music). As such is almost on the same level
with the Platonic Ideas. First (or the only?) philosopher to put it
on such a high pedestal (until then - Kant- described it as the lowest
among arts since it does not use concepts).
- What Schopenhauer actually does is make the apology of abstract
- The WILL is all pervasive, everything is a manifestation of the
WILL, The WILL to live. All our actions are driven by desires which,
when fulfilled, give birth to new ones. There is no end to this except
in death. When contemplating art, we arrive at a state in which our
personal desires are shut off. Selfless contemplation during which
the desires, everything driven by the WILL is turned off. (Because we
are looking at things which are outside time and space and causality).
- Music puts us there right away and is a universal language,
instantly understood by everybody.
2. Wagner's development of Schopenhauer's ideas. Glosses over
Schopenhauer's naive musical examples (the bass, the melody, etc.
Rossini as an great composer...). mentions Beethoven. Takes from
Schopenhauer the idea of visual arts needing light (=rational
understanding) and opposes the world of sound (=intuitive understanding).
The NIGHT=Death. Lohengrin and Elsa = rational and
intuitive knowledge. with the intuitive being the superior knowledge.
The whole second act of Tristan as Night. Only Death can fulfill
their love, only in death can they be totally united - by surpassing
their own individuality.
- Hans Sachs' comment that "everything is Wahn"
- Wagner's comments on the smooth transitions in act 2 - proud of
- Buddhism - Nirvana. "A world behind which there is nothing"
- Christianity = hypocrisy; letter to Liszt about Dante and the
Paradise - choirs.... Christianity as a branch of Buddhism corrupted
- Decadence in 19th century and the "Jewish" problem. Meyerbeer
and the "grand opera" - the main thrust of his anger is at the
commercialization of art/music/opera more than at the "jewishness"
of Meyerbeer. (Berlioz: Rossini = the fat, happy man)
- The Artwork of the Future. Syncretism in reviving the Greek
tragedy, where all the arts join in.
- The Myth as opposed to History. Tapping the collective
subconsciousness - see Jung.
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