Klett-Cotta-Verlag Psychology

Nicht Kunst? Nicht Wissenschaft?

Zur Lage der Musiktheorie

März 1997, 1. Jahrgang, Heft 1, pp 119-136

Neither Art; nor Science? Concerning the Situation of Music Theory

In contrast to England and America music theory has not been able to establish itself in German-speaking countries as a scholarly discipline at the universities. After the war a strict division was made regarding higher education in music: scholarly training was received at the university while the artistic training was received at the music conservatories with music theory being appropriated to the conservatories as an ›artistic subject‹. Cut off from the scholarly discourse of the university the music theorist got used to working in secret unnoticed and without publishing his scholarly achievements. Unnoticed by the public a lively scene of music-theoretical research developed. However since the discipline did not participate in scholarly communication it appears to the outside world to have been caught in a conservative stiffness which lead to massive criticism that is now threatening its existence in times of dire financial straits in the public sector and the dwindling acceptance of an ›elite‹ and ›bourgeois‹ art. The author confronts the criticism which has been imposed upon music theory with for the most part unknown facts about music-theoretical issues and teaching. In doing so he tries to shed light on the complex dialectical relationship between the teaching of the musical trade − the central object of this criticism − and scholarly music analysis the focus of music-theoretical practice in Germany as well as in England America and France. The author believes it is high time to connect up with the discourse which is being followed with such interest abroad especially in the English- and French-speaking countries. He is also convinced that the music theory of German-speaking countries with its independent tradition based on Riemann Kurth Schönberg and Adorno can enrich the scholarly discussion.

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