Category Archives: Music

The presence of the friend

Close friends who practice together the exercises of friendship-as-ethic                             mold each other into their Aristotelian “other self” under a bright sun like Vienna’s. In addition to … Continue reading

Posted in Attunement, Collaboration, Friends, Piano

Listening to music as a skill

What if listening to music is a skill, like playing it?  For example, listening to these pieces for ruined pianos arguably requires a skill. In her book Intelligent Virtue (2012), philosopher Julia Annas, an authority in Greek ethics, draws on “the … Continue reading

Posted in Classical Music, Listening, Piano

Mahler’s melancholic marches

While attending recently a performance of Mahler’s 6th, and comparing the driving march that launches the opening Allegro energico to the heroic march launching the Finale (here 51:10), I started going through the composer’s symphonies until I suddenly realized that this genre appears … Continue reading

Posted in Classical Music, Culture, Melancholy | Tagged

Werther’s lyric performance of a bardic self

The devastating aria “Pourquoi me réveiller?” in Massenet’s drame lyrique Werther (1892) portrays a poet (Werther) singing the poem of a poet (Ossian) singing (in a contest of poets). But things are even more complicated.  “Within the opera and without, the poem is … Continue reading

Posted in Classical Music, Literature, Melancholy | Tagged , ,

Heroic civic friendship

It comes as a surprise to see an entire act of Gluck’s Iphigenia in Tauris (1779) devoted to the magnanimous dispute between Orestes and Pylades about who is more committed to their friendship. While the plot is hardly advanced, we watch … Continue reading

Posted in Classical Music, Friends, Revolt | Tagged ,

The total moment of the perfect melody

When all else fails, there’s still a Schubert melody. Melodies sound like total moments which float freely, unchained, outside the regular course of time.  Adorno explains:  “The concept of melody first gained ascendancy in the nineteenth century in connection with … Continue reading

Posted in Friends, Listening, Melancholy, Music | Tagged

Listening to a mazurka by Chopin

Here is a tremendous instance of the birth of the lyrical subject in the 19th century. Listening to this early mazurka, you feel you are listening to something coming forth tentatively from your deepest self, not from an outside source.  … Continue reading

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