Mark Evan Bonds (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), Hanslick and Leibniz

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646–1716), although never mentioned by name in Vom Musikalisch-Schönen, looms large in the background of Hanslick’s philosophical thought. His prestige in mid-nineteenth-century Austria is well documented, and his thought was of particular importance for the very few philosophers Hanslick openly admired, including Johann Friedrich Herbart, Franz Exner, Hermann Lotze, and Robert Zimmermann. Traces of Leibniz’s thought permeate Vom Musikalisch-Schönen, most notably in Hanslick’s insistence on the immanent (if only dimly perceptible) nature of the qualities inherent in any given object. By this reading, the musically beautiful might be understood, in effect, as a monad that manifests itself through actual works of music.

One might reasonably think, then, that Leibniz’s ontology of music as the soul’s unconscious calculation of number would have been particularly appealing to Hanslick, for it connects sensory perception with the mind but gives clear priority to the active operations of the spirit (anima), thereby precluding the specter of merely “pathological” listening, non-reflective and quite literally mindless. Numbers and their functions are pure, abstract, and autonomous, and their potentially intricate relationships would seem to provide just the sort of self-contained, Geist-imbued profundity Hanslick sought in music. From a purely political standpoint, moreover, Leibniz would have been an obvious and desirable authority (along with Herbart) for any ambitious Austrian civil servant working in the early 1850s. But as a true believer in the objectivity of the musically beautiful, Hanslick could not accept an ontology of music grounded in cognition. It is revealing, then, that he should reject Leibniz’s ontology only indirectly, attacking not Leibniz himself but rather a more recent surrogate, the distinguished Danish physicist Hans Christian Ørsted. In this sense, Leibniz is an off-stage force with whom Hanslick wrestled throughout the whole of his treatise. And once again, we see Hanslick applying his own political-academic calculus in the crafting of Vom Musikalisch-Schönen.

Thomas Grey (Stanford University), Re-thinking Beauty in the “Musically Beautiful”

In proposing a specialized aesthetics of music that grounded all determinations of value, effect, and significance in the sounding object of the composition, Eduard Hanslick’s appeal to the “beautiful” as a central organizing principle seemed self-evident. The discipline formalized as “aesthetics” in the eighteenth century defined itself as an inquiry into the nature of beauty as manifested in the fine (or “beautiful”) arts. Immanuel Kant’s Critique of the Power of Judgement (1790) complicated this inquiry by positioning it within a larger systematic explication of the faculties of the human mind and expanding the field of “judgements of taste” to encompass the whole natural world as well as the domain of human artifacts. While the relevance of Kant’s Critique to Hanslick’s Vom Musikalisch-Schönen has been increasingly contested, the relevance of “beauty” to an aesthetics emphasizing the autonomous significance of musical form remains axiomatic.

This paper investigates some of the cultural-historical contingencies of the concept of “beauty” in Hanslick’s Vom Musikalisch-Schönen aside from its role in the genesis of an aesthetic of musical autonomy (“absolute music”), without ignoring that. If a philosophical understanding of beauty, Kantian or otherwise, is essential to Hanslick’s musical formalism, and if that is (in turn) an essential framework for understanding modernist modes of musical thought and practice, how do we interpret the virtual disappearance of “beauty” from the modernist discourses it apparently begot? In considering the relation of a philosophical to a critical-evaluative idea of beauty in Hanslick’s thought I draw on examples from two decades of his work as a critic and essayist (1854-74), as well as on recent philosophical essays (Alexander Nehamas, 2007 and Robert B. Pippin, 2014) on the relation of modernist painting, starting with Manet in 1860s France, to traditional aesthetic canons of beauty. Hanslick’s notion of the “musically beautiful” began as a corrective to “mistaken” older views (the aesthetics of feeling); over time, and in the context of his criticism, it became a brief for the protection of a historically endangered species.

Nicole Grimes (University of California, Irvine), Hanslick, the New Humanism, and the Music of Johannes Brahms

In his autobiography written in 1894, Hanslick espoused the notion that the essence of religion is ethics and promoted the idea that all faiths with the same moral principles were of equal worth. This august statement casts a retrospective light on a lifetime of Hanslick’s critical writings as they relate to matters of religion and faith. Throughout his career, Hanslick’s views on religion informed his critical response to a wide variety of music, from Bach’s passion music to Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis and Liszt’s Graner Festmesse, to name just a few.

Hanslick and Brahms shared a tendency to be unobservant in their respective religious faiths, Lutheranism for the composer, ostensibly Catholicism for the critic (notwithstanding Jitka Ludvová’s study of Hanslick’s Jewish heritage). Both Viennese friends embraced the liberal propensity to view Biblical stories as valuable lessons in moral conduct, regardless of the specific faith of the reader. This liberal position shared common ground with Max Kalbeck who prided himself on being a freethinker where religion was concerned.

This paper will interrogate the role of religiosity in how music was viewed in Hanslick’s Vienna and by Hanslick himself, with a particular emphasis on the music of Brahms. On account of their shared political and cultural outlook and due to the fact that Hanslick was among Brahms’s intimate circle of friends, he was amenable to understanding the composer’s position on matters of faith, and his preoccupation with death and bereavement in a variety of sacred and secular works including Ein deutsches Requiem and a series of choral compositions that respond to the New Humanism of a number of German poets. I make the case that Hanslick’s critical writings portray Brahms as one who took a Liberal approach to his Lutheran heritage, and sought to universalise the spiritual messages embodied in his “fate-related” choral compositions in a manner that did not discriminate between religious faiths or between secular and sacred positions.

Hans-Joachim Hinrichsen (University of Zürich), Musikkritik und Ästhetik bei Hanslick. Der Begriff des „musikalischen Kunstwerks“ im Spannungsfeld zwischen systematischem Anspruch und feuilletonistischer Alltagspraxis

Das Referat geht der Frage nach, in welchem Grade Hanslicks bahnbrechender Beitrag zur Werkästhetik auf die besonderen ontologischen Gegebenheiten des musikalischen Kunstwerks eingeht, die ja in gewisser Weise erst in den Diskussionen der philosophischen Phänomenologie des 20. Jahrhunderts zum Reflexionsgegenstand geworden sind. Es soll daher Hanslicks Bestimmung des „Musikalisch-Schönen“ im Vergleich mit seinen Vorgängern, im Kontext der ästhetischen Diskussion seiner Epoche und mit Blick auf die aus seinem Ansatz gezogenen Konsequenzen näher bestimmt werden. Dabei wird eine Rolle spielen, dass gerade Hanslick, der sich nicht primär als Systematiker, sondern als Musikkritiker verstehen durfte, sich des Status von Kunstmusik im Spannungsfeld von „objektivem“ Werkcharakter und „präsentischer“ Performanz bewusst gewesen sein dürfte.

Andrea Korenjak (Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna), Hanslickʼs music aesthetic discourse in the context of medicine and psychiatry around 1850

Both in his treatise Ueber den subjektiven Eindruck der Musik und seine Stellung in der Aesthetik (1853) and his book Vom Musikalisch-Schönen (1854), Eduard Hanslick reflects on theories of music’s influence on the “nerves” and on the “soul” or Gemüth, respectively. Additionally, Hanslick points to the fact that music has been reportedly applied in medicine, specifically in the treatment of the mentally ill, “with favorable results”. These positive results, however, would neither be based on the “physical/material tremor of the nervous system” triggered by music, nor on music’s ability to “stir the passions”. According to Hanslick, the beneficial effects on a gloomy or overexcited Gemüth are generally related to music’s soothing and mirthful influence, evoked by a “half-distracting, half-compelling” recital. Furthermore, Hanslick takes the patient’s individual physical and mental state into consideration. Thus, Hanslick comes to the conclusion that each musical cure has to be seen as an “exceptional case”.

In this paper, Hanslick’s thoughts will be related to the broader medical and psychiatric discourse. At that time, music had already been widely integrated into psychiatric institutions, not only in France, Germany and England, but also in Prague and Vienna. In my presentation I will overview the “state of the art” in “medical music” around 1850 and provide insight into music’s concrete application in Praguer and Viennese psychiatry. In this context I will question to what extend Hanslick might have been familiar with psychiatric practice and whether he deduced some of his ideas from 19th-century medical dissertations on music. Conversely, medical writings, such as medical dissertations dealing with music, will be examined with regard to aesthetic theories.

Christoph Landerer (Salzburg), Lee Rothfarb (University of California, Santa Barbara), Features of the new English translation of “On the Musically Beautiful” (Oxford University Press, 2017)

Eduard Hanslick’s Vom Musikalisch-Schönen (first edition 1854) was translated into English twice, first by Gustav Cohen (The Beautiful in Music, 1891), then by Geoffrey Payzant (On the Musically Beautiful, 1986). We decided that a new translation of Hanslick’s aesthetic classic should be a collaborative work between an English and a German native speaker with different academic backgrounds, in musicology / music theory and aesthetics, as well as in intellectual history. Judged by the standards of mid-nineteenth-century academic writing in the German speaking world, Hanslick’s language is remarkably clear. Yet some of his vocabulary, the sentence structure of some of his arguments and, most prominently, the famous central passage of the book that Payzant translated as “tonally moving forms,” are not easy to comprehend. With our translation, written with the eyes and the expertise of both an English and a German native speaker, we hope to provide a new understanding of the text. The talk will discuss some of Hanslick’s most central notions, the prominent role of “Geist” and its derivates in the treatise, Hanslick’s emotive as well as his cognitive vocabulary, and the problem of terminological consistency. We will give examples from the Cohen and the Payzant translation and explain the broad lines and some of the details of our approach. The talk will also address the structure of the treatise and the line of argument that runs through the text (presumably representing the chronological and logical order of the individual chapters). In discussing some of the main issues of Hanslick’s aesthetics, we also hope to engage the audience in a debate on some of the fundamentals of Hanslick’s approach, and to generate feedback on the suggestions and solutions that our translation offers.

Anthony Pryer (Goldsmiths University of London), Contextualizing Hanslick’s Musical Responses: the “Supplementary” Beauty of Performance, the Changing Cultures of Human and Musical Expression, and the Nineteenth-Century Emergence of “Interpretation”

The attempts by Hanslick and others to undermine the relation between “mere notes” and the emotions have focused on the vagaries of metaphorical melodic gesture, imitation, sonic intensity and composer intentions. But there is a sense in which this approach still seems wedded to the idea of musical works as “archives of meaning” which we simply need to observe or absorb, rather than “strategies for engagement with experiences” which draw upon our historically situated expectations of music, the significance we attached to the notion of interpretation, and the persuasive power we attribute to certain types of performance. This galaxy of forces emerges in problematic ways in Hanslick’s Vom Musikalisch-Schönen (see, for example, the intriguing performance instruction he attaches to Gluck’s “Che farò” in Chapter II), in some of his remarks in his music criticism, and his instructions to the performers of his own song collection, Lieder aus der Jugendzeit (1882). It seems clear that Hanslick’s nineteenth-century musical expectations forced his notion of performance (in the face of his “purist” theories of musical meaning) to take on the character of a paradoxical Derridean “supplement” – performances were at once an unnecessary appendage to meaning (a mere “reproduction” of it), but also unavoidably an enriching addition to it (one that expanded or transfigured meanings, and which could persuade the audience to favour particular perceptions of particular works). Hanslick’s “performance postulate” develops into an unsettling sub-plot in his thesis, and it arises from contexts rather different from the philosophical influences on Hanslick already explored so ably by others.

Lee Rothfarb (University of California, Santa Barbara), Hanslick’s Hauptsatz: Brahms and Bruckner

As philosophical discourse, Eduard Hanslick’s Vom Musikalisch-Schönen sticks largely to generalities in referring to the “specifically musical.” However, it does provide some detail on the notion of a theme as a composer’s starting point and germinative “bud” for producing a coherent composition that qualifies as “musically beautiful.” This paper explores the music-analytical implications of Hanslick’s Haupthema—labeled here Hauptsatz, after 18th-century authors—and its architectonic significance for a musical work, based on passages from Brahms’s Second Symphony and Bruckner’s Eighth. The discussion highlights fundamental differences in the nature and handling of their respective Hauptsätze, which are the sources, at least in part, of Hanslick’s sharply differing attitudes toward the two composers. Additionally, the paper suggests that Hanslick’s ingrained attunement to the rigorously dramatic-teleological design of Brahms’s sonata-form movements may have prevented him from appreciating Bruckner’s epic-episodic design.

Peter Stachel (Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna), Eine komplizierte Beziehung. Eduard Hanslick und Carl Goldmark

Carl Goldmark (1830–1915) war der erfolgreichste Opernkomponist der Habsburgermonarchie in der zweiten Hälfte des 19. Jahrhunderts und mehr als nur eine Wiener Lokalgröße. Um aber zuerst einmal in Wien reüssieren zu können, bedurfte es auch guter persönlicher Beziehungen, nicht zuletzt zu der Autorität unter den Wiener Musikkritikern, Eduard Hanslick, dem er sich in jungen Jahren als „österreichisch-vaterländischer Komponist“ zu präsentieren bestrebt war.

Die Beziehung zwischen Goldmark und Hanslick war zwar im Großen und Ganzen von persönlichem wechselseitigem Respekt geprägt, dabei aber nicht unkompliziert. Zum einen war Goldmark Wagner-Bewunderer und Mitbegründer des Wiener Wagner-Vereins, zum anderen motivierte die Uraufführung von Goldmarks erster Oper, zugleich seinem erfolgreichsten Werk, Die Königin von Saba (1875, Wiener Hofoper), Hanslick zu einer scharf ablehnenden Kritik in der Neuen Freien Presse. Bemerkenswert an dieser Kritik ist der Umstand, dass Hanslick vor allem die von ihm als jüdisch wahrgenommenen musikalischen Elemente der Komposition ablehnte, sie als „Gewinsel“ mit „schneidenden Mißklängen“ diffamierte und das Fehlen „klarer europäisch-abendländischer Melodie“ bemängelte. In der Wortwahl – „orientalisch-jüdisch“, „jüdisch-orientalisch“, „fremdartig“ – näherte sich Hanslick dabei sogar Richard Wagners antisemitischer Terminologie an.

Der in Hanslicks Kritik angeschlagene Ton sollte dem aus einer Kantorenfamilie Westungarns (heute das österreichische Bundesland Burgenland) stammenden, lebenslang Mitglied der jüdischen Gemeinde bleibenden Komponisten, in weiterer Folge häufig begegnen, sodass Karl Kraus, ein Bewunderer Goldmarks einmal konstatierte: „Für Freund und Feind ist er nicht sowohl zum Musiker, wie als Jude geboren“.

Hypothetisch kann angenommen werden, dass die scharfe Ablehnung der Königin von Saba, und vor allem der darin angeschlagene Ton, Wurzeln in Hanslicks eigener Stellung zum Judentum hatte. Dass seine Mutter – wiewohl zum Christentum konvertiert – jüdischer Herkunft war, verschweigt Hanslick beispielsweise in seiner Autobiographie konsequent. Der große Publikumserfolg einer von ihm als „jüdisch“ wahrgenommenen Komposition an der Hofoper, irritierte Hanslick sichtlich und scheint von ihm implizit auch als eine Art Angriff auf seine eigene soziokulturelle Identität wahrgenommen worden zu sein.

Markéta Štědronská (University of Vienna), Eduard Hanslick und August Wilhelm Ambros – Zur Geschichte eines musikästhetischen Austauschs

Für den musikästhetischen Diskurs der zweiten Hälfte des 19. Jahrhunderts war der ausgedehnte und zugleich sehr dynamische Austausch zwischen Eduard Hanslick und August Wilhelm Ambros (1816–1876) von tragender Bedeutung. Beide begründeten ihre Karrieren als Musikkritiker und ‑ästhetiker im Kreis des Prager Davidsbundes in den 1840er-Jahren. Mit ihren poetischen Kritiken im Schumann’schen Stil trugen sie 1846 zu der begeisterten Aufnahme von Berlioz’ Programmmusik in Prag maßgeblich bei. Acht Jahre nach Berlioz’ Prager Triumphen veröffentlichte Hanslick sein Traktat Vom Musikalisch-Schönen, wobei Ambros zu einem der Ersten gehörte, der sich dazu entschloss, darauf mit einer Gegenschrift zu antworten. Diese erschien 1855 unter dem Titel Die Gränzen der Musik und Poesie. Obwohl Ambros’ Schrift bereits im 19. Jahrhundert (u. a. bei Otakar Hostinský) zum Inbegriff der gegen Hanslick gerichteten Kritik wurde, weist sie eine Komplexität und Vielschichtigkeit auf, die eine derart verengende Klassifikation kaum zulässt. Im Referat soll zum einen die doppelpolemische und zum Teil ambivalente Argumentation in Ambros’ Gränzen erhellt, zum anderen die Weiterentwicklung des Dialogs zwischen Ambros und Hanslick nach 1855 skizziert werden. Auch wenn die Korrespondenz verschollen ist, lässt sich dieser Dialog anhand von zahlreichen Kritiken und Rezensionen rekonstruieren. Ins Gewicht fallen vor allem die Quellen aus den Jahren 1872–1876, in welchen beide Kritiker in Wien tätig waren. Ob der Austausch in dieser letzten Phase überhaupt noch als Polemik bezeichnet werden darf, muss kritisch hinterfragt werden.

Werner Telesko (Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna), Rudolf von Eitelberger (1817–1885) – wissenschaftliche Exaktheit und habsburgische Kulturpolitik. Ein methodischer Grenzgänger und die Anfänge der Kunstgeschichte in Wien

Üblicherweise wird der methodische Ansatz des Kunsthistorikers Rudolf von Eitelberger und Begründers der „Wiener Schule der Kunstgeschichte“ als Teil der Thun’schen Reform gesehen, in der die Kunstgeschichte eine neue (wissenschaftliche) Grundlage erhalten sollte – und zwar mit einer deutlichen Bevorzugung des Studiums am Objekt selbst anstelle philosophischer Spekulation. Wissenschaftsgeschichtlich wurde diese Ausrichtung in den letzten Jahren mit der durchdringenden Wirkung des sog. Herbartianismus im Kulturleben der Habsburgermonarchie in der zweiten Hälfte des 19. Jahrhunderts begründet. Dieser Richtung schreibt man bis heute den Status einer offiziellen Erziehungs- und Bildungslehre in ihrer deutlichen Ablehnung idealistischer Philosophie zu.

Zieht man als Vergleich zur Frühphase der Wiener Kunstgeschichte die wohl radikalste Autonomieästhetik dieser Zeit heran, nämlich Eduard Hanslicks Programmschrift „Vom Musikalisch-Schönen“ (1854), die Hanslicks methodischen „turn“ nach 1848 offenbart, dann wird rasch deutlich, dass das umfangreiche Schaffen Eitelbergers – etwa ganz im Gegensatz zu jenem des Philosophen Robert Zimmermann (1824–1898) – für eine Kunstgeschichte im Zeichen eines explizit formalistischen Ansatzes kaum Anhaltspunkte bietet, Eitelberger somit auch nach 1848 ein homo politicus blieb und seine Schaffen primär den Prämissen habsburgischer Kulturpolitik unterordnete.

Im Beitrag sollen die methodischen Standpunkte Eitelbergers anhand einer eingehenden – bisher nicht geleisteten – Untersuchung seiner wissenschaftlichen Sprache analysiert werden. Dabei wird vor allem deutlich, dass er von der institutionellen Neuausrichtung des Faches Kunstgeschichte und der Unterstützung Thuns profitierte, ohne aber diese Autonomisierung auf eine neue methodische Basis – wie dies etwa Hanslick tat – zu stellen.

An der Wiege der Wiener Kunstgeschichte steht somit letztlich keineswegs ein Formalanalytiker, wie man meinen möchte, sondern ein umtriebiger und gut vernetzter Kulturideologe, der als ex-1848er – nun aber im Sold der Dynastie – das ehrgeizige politische Projekt einer habsburgischen Kulturpolitik vorantrieb, Ästhetik und Kunstgeschichte aber nie als weltferne wissenschaftsimmanente Fragestellungen betrieb, sondern diese geschickt für die von ihm ventilierten Strategien im Streben um die ästhetische Hegemonie der Monarchie in Europa instrumentalisierte.

Alexander Wilfing (Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna), Hanslick’s Kantianism? Johann Heinrich Dambeck, Christian Friedrich Michaelis, and Hans Georg Nägeli

Ever since the initial publication of Eduard Hanslickʼs aesthetic treatise Vom Musikalisch-Schönen (1854), research on the philosophical influences on Hanslick’s aesthetic approach has constituted a major topic in German Hanslick scholarship. Various candidates have been named as the most important predecessor to Hanslickʼs “formalism”, ranging from German Idealism (Kant, Hegel, Schelling, Vischer) and German poetry (Lessing, Goethe, Schiller, Novalis, or the German romantics) up to the indigenous Austrian context of Hanslickʼs aesthetics (Herbart, Bolzano, Zimmermann, Gutt). The fact that Hanslickʼs library and his private records were lost during the Second World War led to free-floating speculation on what could be considered the one and only school of thought Hanslick belongs to. Today, it becomes more and more clear that the question of Hans­lick’s origins has been posed in a one-sided way. Rather than being located in the intellectual tradition of one specific author or a single philosophical movement, Hanslickʼs approach to musical aesthetics is highly original and has been developed by engaging with various contemporary aesthetic discourses.

Given the lack of empirical information on the actual genesis of Vom Musikalisch-Schönen, it is extremely surprising that a rather obvious source of Hanslickʼs aesthetic outlook has hardly ever been taken into account: Johann Heinrich Dambeckʼs Vorlesungen über Aesthetik (1822–1823), edited by Josef Adolf Hanslik, Eduard’s father. Dambeckʼs aesthetics, primarily inspired by Kant’s Critique of the Power of Judgement (1790), will be carefully analysed regarding its potential impact on Vom Musikalisch-Schönen. Hanslick’s treatise will be further situated in the vibrant Kantian discourse of early nineteenth-century Germany, encompassing Dambeck, Christian Friedrich Michaelis, and Hans Georg Nägeli. Even though Vom Musi­ka­lisch-Schönen conveys decidedly Kantian concepts, a direct influence of Kantʼs third critique on Hanslickʼs position is doubtful. An investigation of the historical development of Kantian aesthetics in relation to Hanslickʼs treatise is thus decisive for a better understanding of an aesthetic discourse partially integrated in Hanslick’s aesthetics.

Nick Zangwill (University of Hull), Non-absolute Music

Even the most devoted follower of Hanslick has to concede that not all music is absolute or pure. Hanslick has a particular way of understanding such music. I frame a general problem of how to understand music that has non-aesthetic functions as well as aesthetic functions. I consider religious music and the question of whether, putting aside any texts, there is something religious about certain sonic forms such that the combination of text with form is more or less appropriate. The problem of understanding this fittingness or appropriateness of word/text combinations is an ancient puzzle, dating at least back to Plato. I focus the case on (some of) Bach’s Cantatas. Inspired by Hanslick, I argue for a somewhat sceptical view that there is no intrinsic link, because of the variability of word/text combinations. I draw on Hanslick’s treatment of word/text combination in chapter 2 of On the Musically Beautiful, and also some of Bettina Varwig’s work on Bach.