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Herder's Alternative Path to Musical Transcendence
WhenFriday, Jan. 24, 2020, 3:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Campus locationDenny Hall (DEN)
Campus room359
Event typesAcademics, Lectures/Seminars
Event sponsorsDepartment of Germanics

Public Lecture Series :: Winter 2020

Stephen Rumph (School of Music, UW)

Transcendence has become a lively topic in the hermeneutics of Viennese Classicism, thanks chiefly to Immanuel Kant's theory of the sublime in the Critique of Judgment (1790). Critics have pointed to moments in the music of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven in which the overwhelming or bewildering experience of the sublime tests the limits of the phenomenal self and thereby awakens the listener to the supersensory noumenal realm. This chapter offers an alternative model of musical transcendence based on Johann Gottfried Herder's late aesthetic treatise Kalligone (1800), a polemic aimed at Kant's Critique of Judgment. Four elements of Herder's critique challenge the familiar Kantian notion of transcendence: the emphasis on the sensory experience of music, its affinities with language, its temporal organization, and its grounding in the phenomenal realm of bodily experience. Kalligone not only offers an alternative vision of musical transcendence but also suggests intriguing links with current trends in musical scholarship obscured by Herder's more influential teacher.

Reception to follow

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