Friedrich Schlegel on Philosophy in Music

Many people find it strange and ridiculous when musicians talk about the ideas in their compositions; and it often happens that one perceives they have more ideas in their music than they do about it. But whoever has a feeling for the wonderful affinity of all the arts and sciences will at least not consider the matter from the dull viewpoint of a so-called naturalness that maintains music is supposed to be only the language of the senses. Rather, he will consider a certain tendency of pure instrumental music toward philosophy as something not impossible in itself. Doesn't pure instrumental music have to create its own text? And aren't the themes in it developed, reaffirmed, varied, and contrasted in the same way as the subject of meditation in a philosophical succession of ideas?

— Friedrich Schlegel, Athenaeum Fragments # 444


SOURCE: Schlegel, Friedrich; Firchow, Peter, trans. Lucinde and the Fragments (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1971), p. 239.


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