Music 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. It takes the reader on a seven-chapter journey that 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.
Chapter 1: Music and the Idea of a World
Chapter 2: Victor Zuckerkandl on Music and Nature
Chapter 3: The Power of Song in Bach's St. Matthew Passion
Chapter 4: The Musical Universe and Mozart's Magic Flute
Chapter 5: Schopenhauer's Will and Wagner's Eros
Chapter 6: Magic Circle, Magic Square: The Devil and Dodecaphony in Thomas Mann's Doctor Faustus