Thursday, June 7, 2007

The Rape of Euterpe

Found an old favorite from Hans von Bülow from Chapter 9 of this dissertation on Nietzsche. Nietzsche had recently finished composing his Manfred Meditation and had sent a copy to Bülow asking for his comments:

“…the most fantastically extravagant, the most unedifying, the most anti-musical thing I have come across for a long time in the way of notes put on paper. Several times I had to ask myself whether it is all a joke, whether, perhaps, your object was to produce a parody of the so-called music of the future. Is it by intent that you persistently defy every rule of tonal connection, from the higher syntax down to the merest spelling? Apart from its psychological interest—for your musical fever suggests, for all its aberrations, an uncommon, a distinguished mind—your Meditation, looked at from a musical standpoint, is the precise equivalent of a crime in the moral sphere. … You yourself, not without reason, describe your music as 'terrible’. It is indeed more terrible than you think—not detrimental to the common weal, of course, but something worse than that, detrimental to yourself, seeing that you can find no worse way of killing time than raping Euterpe in this fashion.”

This is even better than the remark he made when told that expanding the orchestra pit for the upcoming premiere of Tristan und Isolde that he was to conduct would mean the loss of seats for the audience: "What's 50 or 60 schweinhunde more or less?"

Not much listening the last few days. Listened to a bit of Mahler's Second (Kubelik) on Tuesday and watched the first concert from the recently-acquired Barenboim on Beethoven DVD set. In it, Barenboim plays the 32 sonatas in a series of 8 concerts. The first disc featured Op.2 No.1, Op. 31 No. 3 and the Hammerklavier. There are 6 hour-long masterclasses featuring Barenboim working through sonatas with 6 different pianists. If the excerpts shown on PBS a couple of months ago are any indication, these are gonna be great.

Update 8:00PM:
Now I know where I first read this. It's in Volume 4 of Ernest Newman's classic The Life of Richard Wagner.

1 comment:

Garret said...

Lest not forget Nietzsche's response to Bülow:

"Bülow's letter is invaluable to me in its honesty, read it, laugh about me, and believe me that I have become so scared of myself that I cannot touch a piano ever since"