From Beethoven to Shostakovich: The Psychology of the Composing Process

By Max Graf | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XV.
RETROSPECT The Path of Musical Imagination The Musical Work of Art

IT IS A LONG ROAD that leads to the perfection of great musical art production. This path leads from the dark regions of unconscious soul life, where the roots of instincts reach deep into the psyche of man, to the realm of light where intellect arranges, organizes and joins the ideas. At the start of this path are the natural instincts, the titanic underworld which mankind subjugated in the course of cultural development, be it through total conquest or through transformation into new forms and spiritual figures. Of these instincts the most important one is eroticism, which gives lustre to the timbre of the music. It exists in all art creation. This is the instinct that gives the characters of the poet their brightness and celestial gleam. It gives sensual form to plastic pictures. The power of the word that even today is a magic formula when it comes from the pen of poets such as Shelley, Keats, Stephan George, Paul Verlaine, Stéphane Mallarmé, Carducci and D'Annunzio, has the colors of erotic vision. Music, which still is considered magic by the listeners, is eroticism in sounding form.

These erotic forces are joined by an impulse of aggression, which has a long history and many shapes.

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