Up@dawn 2.0

Monday, December 7, 2015

Philosophers and Composers (Post 3 of 3) Aevan Armus (#11)

In my first two posts, I talked about the influences of philosophers, specifically Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, on composers, specifically Wagner and Strauss. I feel that it is important to broaden the scope of my statement. So first we are going to get out of late 19th century romantic music, and we also will look at philosophers who were themselves composers.

Well, we will not get out of the 19th century just yet, actually. Friedrich Nietzsche did more than just influence composers, such as Wagner and Strauss. Nietzsche did a good bit of composing himself, though his writing is far from pleasant. Listen for yourself: 
Wagner famously left a performance of a piece Nietzsche wrote for Cosima Wagner, Richard Wagner’s wife, and was found later having a laughing fit at the sheer lack of fundamental musicality and structural understanding in the piece.

To finally get out of romanticism, let’s talk about Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Rousseau, being born in 1712 and dying in 1778, is considered a baroque composer. Baroque music, as opposed to romanticism, is highly focused on perfection of craft as opposed to any emotional expression through the art. As a result, Rousseau’s philosophies are harder to see throughout his music, however they still exist, if only as a mere afterthought. Here is an example of Rousseau’s writing: 

A more modern example is the philosopher Theodor Adorno. (1903 – 1969) Adorno’s music is a bit different from his predecessors. Adorno studied with Alban Berg for a while in 1924. Berg was a student of Arnold Schoenberg, who is considered the father of atonality. If you don’t know about atonality, I suggest the following video:  

Here’s an example of Adorno's music: 

1 comment:

  1. Fascinating. I love the mental image of Wagner having a laughing fit over Nietzsche's composition!

    A local philosopher who also composes and performs is my very own colleague Bombardi, you might want to drop in on his Philosophy of Music course sometime!