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Reflections of an American Composer$
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Arthur Berger

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780520232518

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520232518.001.0001

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Rendezvous with Apollo: Form Is Feeling

Rendezvous with Apollo: Form Is Feeling

(p.50) 4 Rendezvous with Apollo: Form Is Feeling
Reflections of an American Composer

Arthur Berger

University of California Press

The chapter highlights the rift between two forms of music, namely, romanticism and classical, on the virtue of the intensity of emotions expressed through them. Consistent with the Romantic thesis of music as self-expression is the notion that music must not express any feelings except that of their writer, as if emotions experienced by others cannot burn as intensely in their music as emotions they experience themselves. If the words used to characterize a musical emotion are unreliable, the words used to contend that there is no emotion must be equally unreliable. Composers may evoke emotions without knowing what they are and without being aware they are doing so. Classical composers felt that emotion did not always have to be at great heights or depths to be vivid and meaningful. The mere mention of “Classical” is enough to prepare some of the listening public for basalt frigidity as the polar opposite of the hot intensity of Romanticism. What often leads to the conclusion that emotions are absent where music ideally fulfills its structural essence is the difficulty of localizing them with respect to our normal connotative methods of thought. Yet the emotions are nonetheless specific.

Keywords:   Romanticism, classical music, music as self-expression, musical emotions, connotative methods of thoughts

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