Saturday, April 06, 2013

Bach, Beethoven, and the Spirit of Music

"To Plato and Nietzsche, the history of music is a series of attempts to give form and beauty to the dark, chaotic, premonitory forces in the soul--to make them serve a higher purpose, an ideal, to give man's duties a fullness.  Bach's religious intentions and Beethoven's revolutionary and humane ones are clear enough examples.  Such cultivation of the soul uses the passions and satiisfies them while sublimating them and giving them an artistic unity.
A man whose noblest activities are accompanied by a music that expresses them while providing a pleasure extending from the lowest bodily to the highest spiritual, is whole, and there is no tension in him between the pleasant and the good.  By contrast a man whose business life is prosaic and unmusical and whose leisure is his existence is undermined by the other."
- Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind, p 72.

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