Biography[ edit ] Hanslick was born in Prague then in the Austrian Empire , the son of Joseph Adolph Hanslik, a bibliographer and music teacher from a German-speaking family, and one of his piano pupils, the daughter of a Jewish merchant from Vienna. He also studied law at Prague University and obtained a degree in that field, but his amateur study of music eventually led to writing music reviews for small town newspapers, then the Wiener Musik-Zeitung and eventually the Neue Freie Presse , where he was music critic until retirement. By this time his interest in Wagner had begun to cool; he had written a disparaging review of the first Vienna production of Lohengrin. Hanslick often served on juries for musical competitions and held a post at the Austrian Ministry of Culture and fulfilled other administrative roles. He retired after writing his memoirs, but still wrote articles on the most important premieres of the day, up to his death in in Baden.
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Secondary Sources 1. After a short-lived employment as a fiscal civil servant in Klagenfurt Carinthia in —52, during which Hanslick prepared for an academic profession Wilfing , 91n , he returned to Vienna to work at the ministry of finances and was subsequently transferred to the ministry of education in The initial traces of the book he would become famous for also fall within this time frame, with OMB completed in In , this book was acknowledged retroactively as a philosophical habilitation, thereby granting Hanslick an unsalaried professorship at the University of Vienna that turned into a salaried position in , and ultimately a full post in In addition to his academic activities, Hanslick experienced a widely successful career as a music critic see the next section , which lasted until , when Hanslick retired from his music editor post at Neue Freie Presse.
Early Works and Critical Writings Except for his aesthetic treatise, Hanslick is renowned primarily for his activities as a music critic. In making this move, Hanslick took part in the general erosion of Hegelian criticism, the political direction of which lost most of its appeal in the aftermath of Pederson , and entirely detached music and its aesthetic qualities from its involvement with worldly politics. This turn is observable particularly in respect to the debate about external musical meaning that Hanslick declared the pivotal feature of art in Genesis and Conceptual Organization of OMB From July to March , Hanslick pre-published several chapters of OMB as stand-alone articles that deal with the subjective impression and physiological perception of music, as well as with the complex relations between music and nature.
According to this view, Hanslick first lays the foundation for his aesthetic approach by clarifying an idea of tone chapter 6 and the way in which tones are received from the standpoint of physiology and psychology chapters 4 and 5. Why did he decide to publish an aesthetic treatise at the age of 29? We know from letters written around that Hanslick noticed the absence of musical aesthetics and musicology from the Viennese university curriculum and saw the opportunity to carve a niche for his unique talent.
German idealism typically contrived an aesthetic approach firmly rooted in an overarching philosophical framework. Art, regardless of the specific medium, thus must satisfy certain epistemic principles and ethical criteria derived from this general system in order to be classified as beautiful. Idealist aesthetics therefore typically identified universal conditions of artistic beauty that were binding equally for a poem, a tragedy, a painting, a sculpture, or a piece of music Wilfing , sec.
Arousal, Expression, and the Cognitive Concept of Emotion To this end, Hanslick develops two central theses: a positive one, explored in chapter 3, that attempts to show that musical beauty is dependent completely on the inherent qualities of music itself, and a negative one, defined in chapters 1—2, that challenges the familiar concept that music is supposed to represent feelings and that its emotive content forms the basis of aesthetic judgment.
There was widespread consensus amongst idealist systems of art that art must have some sort of content. This claim, Hanslick maintains, represents the weak spot of musical emotivism. Emotion by no means forms the conceptless counterpart to literary meaning. The analytical philosopher Peter Kivy , chap. However, in order to be angry, a complex structure of cognitive parameters has to be in place. I must consider cheating an immoral or indecent behavior—a belief built upon some sort of ethical system—that is performed purposely by Charlie.
As soon as I spot that Charlie is not deceitful wittingly and has played the wrong cards by accident, my anger is likely to evaporate, as its conceptual foundation disappears. Thus, even though music alone cannot express love, fear, or anger in a direct manner, its dynamic structure can reproduce the associated movement of concrete emotions or actual events Hanslick , 30 , but not in ways that allow for definite meaning, as the dynamic character of love or anger could both be violent, desperate, or passionate in specific instances.
Stephen Davies and Peter Kivy, who in concurrently established a concept of musical emotion based chiefly on the dynamic features of musical structure that readily suggest the outward features of expressive behavior Trivedi , regarded Hanslick as a historical precursor to their shared model of enhanced formalism. As vocal music forms an amalgam of music and poetry, the emotions aroused by it cannot be ascribed to any of its codependent components in arbitrary isolation.
Music, in each case, must be understood musically and can be grasped only from within, as no verbal report can suffice. Although Hanslick is unable to provide an exhaustive definition of musical beauty, he guards against potential fallacies: For him, the musically beautiful represents more than symmetry, regularity, proportion Hanslick , 57—59 , or a pleasant sequence of tones, as these images neglect the crucial aspect of beauty: Geist mind or intellect.
Although Hanslick cannot provide a conclusive treatment for scientific aesthetics, the pivotal insight of OMB seems clear: musical beauty depends on musical material and not on any concept or emotion. Here, Hanslick mentions one of the few concrete examples of musical beauty by declaring creativity, originality, and spontaneity to be essential features of musical prowess.
Beardsley and William K. Wimsatt Appelqvist —11, 77— Hanslick is not at all interested in establishing a purely intellectual apprehension of musical structure. Beauty is rooted in physical sensation and engages the faculty of imagination as an intermediary between sensation, intellect, and feeling: listening to music in a purely rational fashion, Hanslick contends, is as far removed from aesthetic appraisal as mere affective arousal.
For Hanslick, the genuine affective reaction of the listener, especially powerful in the case of music, is beyond dispute, but the ways in which it is constituted varies considerably. For Hanslick, this mode of listening originates from the physical aspects of sound and its direct effect on the human nervous system and thus lacks the necessary component of Geist to be considered aesthetical. It actually belongs to physiological, psychological, or medical research and is not subject to aesthetic inquiry Hanslick , 71— In general, artworks present a twofold relation to nature: first, through their physical material sound, paint, stone ; second, through the content nature affords to art.
Nature thus merely offers physical material for acoustic material that in turn provides material for the creative activity of the individual composer, which builds upon the collective repository of music history. Finally, Hanslick revisits the question of musical content in order to differentiate meticulously between distinct concepts of content usually lumped together indiscriminately.
A separation between musical content and its form does merely pertain to cases in which form is applied to large-scale structures, which is not the standard meaning of this term in OMB.
What is meant by musical formalism and which exact version of musical formalism Hanslick is supposed to represent, however, is one of the divisive questions of Hanslick scholarship and of the philosophy of music at large. Hanslick therefore opposes one of the central claims of formalist aesthetics that usually stresses the primacy of formal features over some kind of content Fisher , ; Kivy , 67; Beard and Gloag , Wilfing , 15— The most prominent contender as the crucial source of OMB, emphasized particularly in analytical philosophy Gracyk, chap.
Hanslick candidly criticized Hegelian aesthetics for its historical orientation, which seemingly confused historical research with aesthetic analysis, but he nonetheless emphasized the historical evolution of musical material and the arbitrary appraisal of specific artworks. These events caused several reforms of the Austrian school system, the primary purpose of which should be to foster the restoration endeavors of the Habsburg leadership by confining education to propaedeutic instructions compatible with Catholic dogmas and state norms.
This political strategy resulted in the preservation of Leibnizian philosophy , the flourishing of positivistic scholarship, and the inhibition of German idealism in favor of methods perceived as decidedly scientific. One intellectual, who consciously modernized the Leibnizian framework engrained in the academic landscape of Austria, was the Prague priest and philosopher Bernard Bolzano — In similar fashion to Hanslick, he defined aesthetic perception as disinterested contemplation, construed musical listening as an intentional monitoring of compositional development, and dismissed emotivist models whilst insisting on particular aesthetics for each art form.
As Herbart declared natural science the operational benchmark for philosophy and demanded a separation between philosophy, religion, and politics, his approach blended perfectly with the positivistic endeavors of Habsburg authorities and thereby became the semi-official philosophy of Austria.
This gradual process was completed by the school reform of , the leading figures of which closely adhered to Herbartian teachings Landerer and Wilfing , sec. Hanslick, who attained a position at the ministry of education in , recognized the importance of employing Herbartian principles in OMB, which should set the stage for his academic profession Payzant , It thus comes as no surprise that Hanslick declared himself a follower of Herbart in his successful habilitation petition of As recent studies demonstrated convincingly, however, this personal testimony is probably nothing more than an allusion provoked by careerist concerns Karnes , 31—34; Bonds , ; Landerer and Zangwill , 90— An immediate reference to Herbart is totally absent from earlier editions of OMB, where he is belatedly included in the third edition of and the sixth edition of Hanslick , 77, Generally speaking, the writings of Bolzano and Herbart were similar in various respects—a fact that lead to the frequent blending of their work in post Austria.
Hanslick , This original ending of OMB evidently betrayed remnants of German idealism and therefore countered Austrian science policies. This discrepancy was pointed out to Hanslick by the foremost Herbartian philosopher of his time and place: Zimmermann. As this public review outlined the Herbartian sentiments of Habsburg authorities responsible for his future career, Hanslick deleted the closing remarks as well as additional passages evocative of his former idealist stances Landerer and Zangwill ; Sousa Hanslick , 4.
OMB is mentioned by Karl Popper —94 , for example, and probably affected his objective aesthetic approach, his wariness regarding psychological argumentation, and his rejection of emotivism. Scholars have thus assumed a rather brief period of unwavering enthusiasm for the Bayreuth composer Prange Current research into the key attributes of analytical aesthetics regularly highlights its tendency to detach the targets of analysis from various contexts in order to establish the possibility of objective observation Roholt , 50— Early analytical aesthetics of the s and s, which initially needed to cast off its widespread reputation of conducting unscientific guesswork, was concerned principally with abstract problems and attempted to determine an exhaustive definition of art, the quality and quantity of aesthetic properties, and the peculiarity of aesthetic perception Goehr ; Lamarque This fact is exemplified particularly by authors who discard OMB and its cognitivist orientation, but nonetheless acknowledge that his views are permeating anglophone philosophy Madell , 1—9.
His cognitive hypothesis, however, was not the only argument espoused by analytical academics, who also drew from more specific aspects of OMB. Hanslick justifies this view with the theoretical redundancy of an aesthetic approach that traces the cause of emotional expression to a source located outside of art. If musical expression is dependent on the response of the listener, music might become nothing more than a random medium of transference, which could be replaced by objects causing an identical response, and loses sight of the individuality of the composition Hanslick , 91— Hanslick proposes that causal theories cannot explain the unique quality of musical artworks as they tend to regard music as a device for affective arousal that could just as well be realized by a warm bath, a cigar, chloroform Hanslick , 83 , or by a drug causing feelings Kivy , , , ; Matravers , —85; Robinson , , , His cognitivism is therefore frequently considered the strongest argument that emotivist aesthetics has substantial weaknesses Kivy , ; Davies , Enhanced formalism does not hold that music refers beyond itself to occurrent emotions but considers expression an objective property of musical structure: music itself is the owner of the emotion it expresses Davies , 68; Kivy , 64— Hanslick, however, had good reasons to abandon enhanced formalism as the theoretical foundation of scientific aesthetics—reasons that paved the way for another argument crucial to analytical aesthetics: the argument from disagreement Gardner , —46; Sharpe , 19— Generally speaking, OMB introduced numerous important arguments to analytical aesthetics that remain the subjects of current research, such as the famous paradox of negative emotion, which Hanslick directed against theories of musical arousal.
If every death march or every somber adagio, Hanslick declares, had the power to elicit grief in the listener, nobody would bother with such works Hanslick , 90— Matravers, for example, asserted that a piece of music would depict a specific emotion if it arouses a feeling, the physiological components of which would correspond to the emotion depicted Matravers , References and Further Reading a.
Primary Sources Hanslick, Eduard. Music Criticisms, — Translated by Henry Pleasants. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. Hanslick, Eduard. Edited by Morris Weitz. Translated by Gustav Cohen. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill. Translated by Geoffrey Payzant. Indianapolis: Hackett.
Translated by Lee Rothfarb and Christoph Landerer. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Secondary Sources Ahonen, Hanne. Ahonen, Hanne.
Alperson, Philip. Malden: Blackwell. Beard, David, and Kenneth Gloag. Musicology: The Key Concepts. London: Routledge. Bell, Clive. Bonds, Mark Evan.
On The Musically Beautiful
Born in Prague, he was educated privately at Prague University, and later attended the University of Vienna. He retained this position, along with a professorship of the history and aesthetics of music at the University of Vienna from until his death. His aesthetic writings helped to define the fields of musicology and music analysis. He never wrote a full aesthetics of music, however, but instead turned to publishing his collected criticism as a living history of music in Vienna.
Eduard Hanslick's On the Musically Beautiful: A New Translation