Hot Best Seller

Absolute Music: The History of an Idea

Availability: Ready to download

What is music, and why does it move us? From Pythagoras to the present, writers have struggled to isolate the essence of pure or absolute music in ways that also account for its profound effect. In Absolute Music: The History of an Idea, Mark Evan Bonds traces the history of these efforts across more than two millennia, paying special attention to the relationship between m What is music, and why does it move us? From Pythagoras to the present, writers have struggled to isolate the essence of pure or absolute music in ways that also account for its profound effect. In Absolute Music: The History of an Idea, Mark Evan Bonds traces the history of these efforts across more than two millennia, paying special attention to the relationship between music's essence and its qualities of form, expression, beauty, autonomy, as well as its perceived capacity to disclose philosophical truths. The core of this book focuses on the period between 1850 and 1945. Although the idea of pure music is as old as antiquity, the term absolute music is itself relatively recent. It was Richard Wagner who coined the term, in 1846, and he used it as a pejorative in his efforts to expose the limitations of purely instrumental music. For Wagner, music that was absolute was isolated, detached from the world, sterile. His contemporary, the Viennese critic Eduard Hanslick, embraced this quality of isolation as a guarantor of purity. Only pure, absolute music, he argued, could realize the highest potential of the art. Bonds reveals how and why perceptions of absolute music changed so radically between the 1850s and 1920s. When it first appeared, absolute music was a new term applied to old music, but by the early decades of the twentieth century, it had become-paradoxically--an old term associated with the new music of modernists like Schoenberg and Stravinsky. Bonds argues that the key developments in this shift lay not in discourse about music but rather the visual arts. The growing prestige of abstraction and form in painting at the turn of the twentieth century-line and color, as opposed to object-helped move the idea of purely abstract, absolute music to the cutting edge of musical modernism. By carefully tracing the evolution of absolute music from Ancient Greece through the Middle Ages to the twentieth-century, Bonds not only provides the first comprehensive history of this pivotal concept but also provokes new thoughts on the essence of music and how essence has been used to explain music's effect. A long awaited book from one of the most respected senior scholars in the field, Absolute Music will be essential reading for anyone interested in the history, theory, and aesthetics of music.


Compare

What is music, and why does it move us? From Pythagoras to the present, writers have struggled to isolate the essence of pure or absolute music in ways that also account for its profound effect. In Absolute Music: The History of an Idea, Mark Evan Bonds traces the history of these efforts across more than two millennia, paying special attention to the relationship between m What is music, and why does it move us? From Pythagoras to the present, writers have struggled to isolate the essence of pure or absolute music in ways that also account for its profound effect. In Absolute Music: The History of an Idea, Mark Evan Bonds traces the history of these efforts across more than two millennia, paying special attention to the relationship between music's essence and its qualities of form, expression, beauty, autonomy, as well as its perceived capacity to disclose philosophical truths. The core of this book focuses on the period between 1850 and 1945. Although the idea of pure music is as old as antiquity, the term absolute music is itself relatively recent. It was Richard Wagner who coined the term, in 1846, and he used it as a pejorative in his efforts to expose the limitations of purely instrumental music. For Wagner, music that was absolute was isolated, detached from the world, sterile. His contemporary, the Viennese critic Eduard Hanslick, embraced this quality of isolation as a guarantor of purity. Only pure, absolute music, he argued, could realize the highest potential of the art. Bonds reveals how and why perceptions of absolute music changed so radically between the 1850s and 1920s. When it first appeared, absolute music was a new term applied to old music, but by the early decades of the twentieth century, it had become-paradoxically--an old term associated with the new music of modernists like Schoenberg and Stravinsky. Bonds argues that the key developments in this shift lay not in discourse about music but rather the visual arts. The growing prestige of abstraction and form in painting at the turn of the twentieth century-line and color, as opposed to object-helped move the idea of purely abstract, absolute music to the cutting edge of musical modernism. By carefully tracing the evolution of absolute music from Ancient Greece through the Middle Ages to the twentieth-century, Bonds not only provides the first comprehensive history of this pivotal concept but also provokes new thoughts on the essence of music and how essence has been used to explain music's effect. A long awaited book from one of the most respected senior scholars in the field, Absolute Music will be essential reading for anyone interested in the history, theory, and aesthetics of music.

44 review for Absolute Music: The History of an Idea

  1. 5 out of 5

    Илья Ясный

    Книга очень сложная и специальная, посвящена вопросам музыкальной эстетики и дебатам между сторонниками абсолютной и программной музыки. Содержание не очень соответствует аннотации: это не история музыки от античности до ЦРУ, а история восприятия музыки и попыток истолковать её сущность. Тем не менее, было интересно и полезно её прочесть, я и не думал, например, что Лист и Брамс находились по разные стороны баррикад. Теперь буду обращать внимание на отношение между формой и содержанием музыки. В Книга очень сложная и специальная, посвящена вопросам музыкальной эстетики и дебатам между сторонниками абсолютной и программной музыки. Содержание не очень соответствует аннотации: это не история музыки от античности до ЦРУ, а история восприятия музыки и попыток истолковать её сущность. Тем не менее, было интересно и полезно её прочесть, я и не думал, например, что Лист и Брамс находились по разные стороны баррикад. Теперь буду обращать внимание на отношение между формой и содержанием музыки. В любом случае, это чтение меня кое в чем обогатило.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Marr

    Mark Evan Bonds’ book Absolute Music: the History of an Idea deals with the most fundamental question in musicology. There are many music lovers for whom the subject is meaningless but some music lovers, including me, like to reflect on these matters. These days, music appreciation courses routinely teach the distinction between absolute music and program music. The latter paints a picture (say, a lake) in tones or tells a story (such as in Dukas’ “The Sorceror’s Apprentice.”) The former doesn’t Mark Evan Bonds’ book Absolute Music: the History of an Idea deals with the most fundamental question in musicology. There are many music lovers for whom the subject is meaningless but some music lovers, including me, like to reflect on these matters. These days, music appreciation courses routinely teach the distinction between absolute music and program music. The latter paints a picture (say, a lake) in tones or tells a story (such as in Dukas’ “The Sorceror’s Apprentice.”) The former doesn’t refer to anything beyond itself. The basic question, though, is whether or not music is its own isolated world, manipulating tones with no reference to anything else at all, or is related to the world in some way. This latter possibility could suggest that, say Schubert piano sonatas express emotions even if they are hard to define in words. The title might lead a potential reader to think that Bonds is defending absolute music. That is not the case. Bonds is studying the history of this idea and along the way leaves us with an argument that a commonsense position that music is its own world but connects with phenomena elsewhere in the world. Central to this study is Edward Hanslick whose book Von Musikalischer-Schöne is pivotal to the debates it touched off, although Hansklick was neither the first by a long shot nor the last to make the argument he made (which Bonds examines at length.) (Sorry, the German title is hard to translate; it means something like “the musically beautiful.) Hanslick’s book did have the merit of being lucidly written in a field of thought that produced turgid and obscure tomes. Hanslick’s arch-enemy was Richard Wagner who lampooned Hanslick in the character of Beckmesser in Die Meistersinger. Bonds’ own writing is very lucid and a great pleasure to read. One does not need to have technical knowledge of music to read this book. The key terms are clearly defined to help the reader understand the debate. There is also much about the characters of the principal debaters of what became the most intense musical debate in Europe for several decades in the 19th century. What the personal element shows is that the heat of debate distorts clear thinking and leads to exaggerated positions that get derailed from common sense and the evidence. More important, the debaters simply failed to understand accurately what their opponents were saying. Bonds traces the debate to the point where some reconciliation (for the time anyway) took place and even shows evidence of softening on the parts of Hanslick and Wagner. And yet neither could get over their personal animosities enough to admit publically the changes in their positions, let alone reconcile with a hated adversary. The personal elements in this debate interest me as my study of the thinking of René Girard and his colleagues has given me a keen interest in the phenomenon of what Girard calls “mimetic rivalry.” In light of Girard’s thinking, another personal element stands out for me. Hanslick began writing his book in the wake of the revolutions of 1848-9. This turmoil, climaxed for him by witnessing crowd violence that killed a hapless victim, motivated Hanslick (in Bond’s judgment as well as mine) to find in music a pure refuge from such human turmoil. This shows up in Hanslick’s insistence on the purity (reinlichkeit) of music. This same thing happened in the twentieth century. During and after World War I, there was a strong movement to absolutize music, to isolate it from human affairs. Igor Stravinsky was a ringleader here. That is ironic. His ballet The Rite of Spring (premiered in 1913) can be seen a prophecy of the sacrificial bloodshed about to tear Europe apart. After the war, Stravinsky insisted that it was an abstract symphonic poem. This same kind of thing happened after World War II with another wave of insistent manifestos that tried to tuck music into isolated boxes. As for me, a Schubert piano sonata is a world with its own beautiful musical argument that spills out into the worlds of real human hearts. Maybe this is a bit fanciful, but there are times when I think Schubert was subtly undermining the Austrian Empire in his dramatic shifts of keys and the uncertainty of which end was sometimes up.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Drunken_orangetree

    This is really a book for music historians, but the first chapters, laying out the difference between music's essence and its effect, between Pythagoras and Orpheus, is very clear and readily accessible. If you're of a philosophical bent the remaining book is lucid and thorough. This is really a book for music historians, but the first chapters, laying out the difference between music's essence and its effect, between Pythagoras and Orpheus, is very clear and readily accessible. If you're of a philosophical bent the remaining book is lucid and thorough.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Mills College Library

    781.17 B7119 2014

  5. 5 out of 5

    Neil

  6. 4 out of 5

    William

  7. 5 out of 5

    Bret McCandless

  8. 5 out of 5

    Khalil

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lubitza Braikova

  10. 5 out of 5

    Enzo

  11. 4 out of 5

    Pahail

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ana Rita Mateus

  13. 5 out of 5

    TomBurgess

  14. 4 out of 5

    Marithé VanderAa

  15. 4 out of 5

    Cutter González

  16. 5 out of 5

    Oleh Shpudeiko

  17. 5 out of 5

    Miriam

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sheikh Tajamul

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ellie

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mark

  21. 4 out of 5

    Katherine

  22. 4 out of 5

    Hannah Mcmeans

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kalliope

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ari

  26. 5 out of 5

    Oswaldo Rodríguez

  27. 5 out of 5

    Cheng

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sergi Medina

  29. 5 out of 5

    Anders S.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Nathan

  31. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

  32. 4 out of 5

    Carol

  33. 4 out of 5

    Stefanie Lubkowski

  34. 4 out of 5

    A.

  35. 4 out of 5

    Simon

  36. 5 out of 5

    Nathan "N.R." Gaddis

  37. 5 out of 5

    Jakob Lindholm

  38. 5 out of 5

    Geoff

  39. 5 out of 5

    Maria

  40. 5 out of 5

    Annie

  41. 4 out of 5

    John

  42. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

  43. 5 out of 5

    Kris

  44. 5 out of 5

    Jur

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.