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»Eine paradiesische Gegend über unsern Häuptern ...«

Die Anfänge der romantischen Musikästhetik bei Wackenroder und Tieck


April 2012, 16. Jahrgang, Heft 62, pp 43-61



Abstract
»A paradisiacal region above our heads . . .« The Beginnings of Romantic Music Aesthetics in Wackenroder and Tieck


While aesthetics usually comes after the creation of art as the conceptual articulation of the beautiful or no-longer-beautiful, Romantic music aesthetics was initially a project: over a decade and a half before Weber and Schubert composed the first works of what, in terms of style and period, we now call »Romantic« music, Ludwig Tieck and Heinrich Wackenroder co-authored two collections of texts, Outpourings of an Art-Loving Friar (1797) and Fantasies about Art (1799), in which they envisaged a music that would break with the real-world orientation of contemporary composition, instead evoking »a paradisiacal region above our heads«. In genre-specific terms, pure instrumental music emancipated from words and concepts, even from »speech in sound« (as a replication of emotions and sensations in melodic constructs whose character displayed a word-like fixity) was destined to become the medium of the new manifestation of music – with this, Tieck and Wackenroder were the first to envisage what Dahlhaus called the »idea of absolute music«. Wackenroder´s texts, however, also reveal the double-edged nature of Romanticism at its very beginning. On the one hand, this highly gifted young man, who lived for barely twenty-five years and probably died of typhoid, speaks in a decidedly anti-Enlightenment, even anti-intellectual voice – which is why, towards the end, the essay casts a sideways glance at the music-philosophical fragments of Friedrich Schlegel, which were also written in the 1790s and had a very different tenor –; on the other hand, however, Wackenroder already questions the truth of the beautiful semblance and the moral legitimacy of the Romantic attitude to the world.

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