Music and the Idea of a World

Music and the Idea of a World
"Many people write about the meaning of music, but few can do it as well as Peter Kalkavage does in this marvelous, winsome, and often hauntingly beautiful book. He takes us on a deep dive into the philosophical dimensions of music, through a series of connected essays that demonstrate again and again the ways in which music is intimately connected to the most important questions we wrestle with, about the nature of time, space, and the human condition. It is a book of great learning, but one also brimming over with enthusiasm and love for its subject, a combination that readers will find irresistible."
--Dr. Wilfred M. McClay, Professor of History, Hillsdale CollegeMusic and the Idea of a World explores
the bond between music and world by reflecting on great musical compositions
and works by great thinkers from antiquity to the present. World, here, has
several meanings. It is the natural world or cosmos, the inner world of feeling
and thought, world history, and the world of tones (the musical universe). The
book is intended for philosophic-minded readers who are fascinated by music and
music lovers who enjoy thinking about the philosophic questions that music
raises. The seven-chapter journey begins with a contrast
between the cosmologies of Plato and Schopenhauer (followed by a discussion of Palestrina's
music and the world of the Bible). It then proceeds to chapters on music and nature
in Victor Zuckerkandl's Sound and Symbol, a love song from Bach's St.
Matthew Passion
, a love song from Mozart's Magic Flute, Wagner's Tristan
and Isolde
in relation to Schopenhauer's cosmology of the will, twelve-tone
music as the image of totalitarianism in Thomas Mann's Doctor Faustus,
and the world of the inner life in Francis Poulenc's Dialogues of the Carmelites.
Publication Date: 
March 19, 2024