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This article discusses several aspects of Schoenberg’s opera Moses und Aron. The main focus, however, is the question as to whether the unrepresentable, the absolute, or God, can be represented. The author reaches the conclusion that it cannot (a view shared by Adorno, Lyotard and Kerling), although God is to be heard (as many voices). In Moses und Aron, Schoenberg takes what might be called the problem of representation to its limits. It follows that, since the opera is a fragment, it is a necessary fragment, a “fulfilled fragment”. The article draws on Schoenberg’s own writings and a selection of books and articles from the vast literature on Schoenberg’s opera. Of special importance in contending with the text of the opera and Schoenberg’s intervention in the Biblical text, including the figure of Moses, is Jan Assmann’s article “Die Mosaische Unterscheidung in Schönberg’s ‘Moses und Aron’” (2005).
In my article, I discuss the Canadian pianist Glenn Gould’s (1932–1982) reception in literature; in novels, children’s biographies and poetry. Through close reading, I scrutinize the meanings associated with Gould in these three literary genres. I give particular focus to Gould’s national iconicity, that is, his position as a cultural icon and national hero. I utilise Mikko Heiniö’s concept of topos, referring to a petrified and unreflective mode of an individual’s public reception. Gould’s reputation as a radical, iconoclastic, eccentric, and solitary artist is reflected in the qualities that circulate repeatedly in Gould’s reception historically, and is therefore also instrumental in constructing his public image. Topos, thus defined, always functions as a backdrop for the reception of Gould’s music. One of the main conclusions of my essay, admittedly one in need of a further discussion, is that the experience of any music is, particularly in today’s age of information technology, a multimodal process in which an artist’s textual representation plays a crucial role.
In this article, I argue that Herder’s aesthetic theory provides a conceptual apparatus for empirical research on aesthetic expressions across cultural contexts and historical epochs. Contrary to common approaches to understanding aesthetics as “a theory of beauty” – that can be traced back to Kant’s idea of the dis-interested and Hegel’s notion of fine arts – Herder’s focus on aesthetic pleasure and his idea of aesthetics as an empirical discipline can enrich our understanding of music as an aesthetic phenomenon within distinctions such as popular music, world music, and art music. By recognising all musics as potentially aesthetic phenomena, Herder provides the basis for a less elitist, and thus a more democratic and empirically sensitive understanding of music aesthetics. The arguments presented in this article suggest that Herder’s overall emphasis on pleasure in the aesthetic experience resonates well with Cuban jazz musicians’ understanding of sabor (musical flavour, often related to expressivity and rhythms) and bomba (referring to rhythmic beauty and intensity). The analyses further suggest that these aesthetic pleasures are sonically constructed in the perception of specific groove-structures. By outlining central groove-structures, such as the role of the clave in Afro-Cuban jazz, I argue how aesthetic pleasure can be defined in specific musical terms.
Skårberg’s article discusses music history teaching in today's primary and secondary schools, as well as in higher education. The current curriculum for Norwegian music education places few restrictions on what is regarded as significant from the musical past. As such, the function of music history in education is no longer obvious, but must be discussed in light of the multifaceted cultural conditions of our time. The author argues that this can be seen as a symptom of a more fundamental uncertainty concerning the status of music education in today's society. As an example, the article refers to a debate on higher music education in Norway from 2009 in which such issues were raised. Finally, the author discusses some historiographical aspects of music that emphasise the fact that music is always historically situated, both on a social as well as on an individual level. Music history must therefore be considered a central topic in today’s music education.
Kant can’t always be right. There are some aspects of Kant’s philosophy that make him unsuitable for the understanding of a musical experience. His contribution to aesthetic theory is developed in the Critique of Judgement (1790), where he investigates the possibility and logical status of “judgements of taste”. In this essay, I argue that his exploration of the inherent limits of our knowledge through philosophical reasoning seems to impede an understanding of the musical experience. This experience is a combination of ontological and epistemological procedures that precede a theory in music aesthetics. Taking a connectionist perspective, it seems impossible to isolate the aesthetic judgement from its embodiment. This embodiment makes it necessary to accept an epistemic dimension ahead of every aesthetic judgement. This epistemic dimension is a combination of subjective experiences and the subject’s cultural knowledge. Using Kant’s theory in music aesthetics might therefore reduce our understanding of the listener’s approach to a musical experience.