Academic journal article The Beethoven Journal

Poetry and the Romantic Musical Aesthetic

Academic journal article The Beethoven Journal

Poetry and the Romantic Musical Aesthetic

Article excerpt

II. Books for the Specialist Donelan, James H. Poetry and the Romantic Musical Aesthetic. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2008. xvi, 216 pp. ISBN 978-0-52 1-8876 1-8 (hardback): $99.

The year of their birth - 1770 - is not the only common thread that links Beethoven to the poets Friedrich Hölderlin and William Wordsworth and the philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. This unlikely quartet also contributed to the aesthetic concept of selfconsciousness in music that became a hallmark of early Romanticism, when music rose in cultural status as the "ideal expression of the autonomous creative mind." Donelan begins by discussing the aesthetics of Kant and other philosophers of the late Enlightenment, the role of Mozart in the elevation of music among the arts, and the beginning of Romantic musical self-consciousness. Donelan then explores each of his quartet members' contributions to the Romantic musical aesthetic in turn. For Hölderlin, the focus is on his transition from philosopher to poet and the development of his musical-poetic voice ("Deutscher Gesang"). The chapter on Hegel addresses his changing views on music and its ability to represent self-consciousness. Wordsworth's link to these German contemporaries is not based on knowledge of their work, or exposure to high musical culture, but rather on his understanding of the metrical elements of poetry. …

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