Modern music ‘is dominated by botched philosophy’main
The Future Symphony Institute, a Baltimore-based initiative to define the next big thing, has commissioned a article from the conservative philosopher Roger Scruton. Sample:
… Botched philosophy has dominated the modern classical repertoire. Very few composers have philosophical gifts, and fewer still attempt to justify their music in philosophical terms – the great exception being Wagner, who, despite his vast literary output, always allowed his instinctive musicianship to prevail when it conflicted with his philosophical theories. But it is precisely the absence of philosophical reflection that has led to the invasion of the musical arena by half-baked ideas. Without the firm foundations provided by a live culture of music-making, philosophy is the only guide that we have; and when good philosophy is absent, bad philosophy steps in to the gap.
The worst example of this, and it is an example whose influence is almost as strong today as it was in the aftermath of the Second World War, is Theodor Adorno’s Philosophy of New Music, first published in 1947. In that book Adorno develops the philosophy of a major composer, who almost succeeded in doing what Wagner happily failed to do, which was to replace the reality of music by an abstract idea of it. Schoenberg’s twelve-tone serialism was based on a set of ideas that are clearly disputable, but which, because of the pretence of system, could overwhelm the hesitant objections of mere music-lovers.
Read the full essay. Why Musicians Need Philosophy, here.