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Music and Sexuality in BrittenSelected Essays$
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Philip Brett and George Haggerty

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780520246096

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520246096.001.0001

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Pacifism, Political Action, and Artistic Endeavor

Pacifism, Political Action, and Artistic Endeavor

(p.172) CHAPTER TEN Pacifism, Political Action, and Artistic Endeavor
Music and Sexuality in Britten

Philip Brett

University of California Press

This chapter inquires into the cause for the conspicuous absence of erotic portrayal through music based on the theory propounded by Eduard Hanslick in his work On The Musically Beautiful (1854). It seeks to assert the intrinsic value of music as opposed to the Aristotlean theory of imitation of nature by art. Hanslick asserts that rather than slavishly imitate nature, music should transform it. He envisages a balance in the instrumental nature of music rather than absolutely negating or rejecting it. By declaring that music does not consider “the beautiful in nature,” Hanslick renders music as superior to other arts relevant to the Age of Progress. To this end, Beethoven's abstract musical is deemed superior to his An die ferne Geliebte (To the Distant Beloved), due to the absence of specificity in the former, which enhances the scope of yearning at the center of Romanticism.

Keywords:   Eduard Hanslick, Musically Beautiful, Aristotle, artistic endeavor, Age of Progress, Beethoven, Romanticism, erotic portrayal

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