The sole purpose of art is infinite

E. T. A. Hoffmann wrote in 1813 that instrumental music

is the most romantic of all the arts  – one might almost say, the only genuinely romantic one – for its sole subject is the infinite.  The lyre of Orpheus opened the portals of Orcus – music discloses to man an unknown realm, a world that has nothing in common with the external sensual world that surrounds him, a world which he leaves behind him all definite feelings to surrender himself to an inexpressible language.

Oliver Strunck, ed. Source Readings in Music History (New York, 1950), pp. 775-76.  Cited in : Plantinga, Leon (1984) Romantic Music.  New York: Norton, p.14.




Featured Content

A little ahead … or a little behind
Samuel Sebastian Wesley received great reviews for his conding at Gloucester’s annual Three Choir Festivals in 1865. An critic in The Musical Times wrote in the October issue: We have said nothing of the orchestra during these performances, for in truth the perfect manner in which the whole of the instrumental portions of the works […]
Lord, Heal My Soul – Psalm 40 (41)
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Liszt on Beethoven
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Easy Street
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The forgotten aspect of music
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Form your own interpretation
I have often made the point in masterclasses that students should not listen to lots of recordings of a piece they are learning. I’m always a little horrified when I hear a student say, “My teacher told me to learn the Chopin G minor Ballade, so I went to the library and took out eight […]
Do everything promptly
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It’s two-four … It’s three-four
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Baudelaire on inspiration
“Inspiration is merely the reward for working every day!” – Charles Baudelaire (French poet).  According to Roland-Manuel, Ravel would often recite this phrase.  Source: Nichols, Roger (1987) Ravel Remembered.  London: Faber & Faber, p. 143.
The role of the arts in society
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