The Music of Friedrich Nietzsche - Heldenklage




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Published on Jun 26, 2009

Hans von Bülow's Opinion of Nietzsche's Music

Naturally, Hans von Bülow did not remain unknown to Nietzsche, owing to his frequenting Wagner's house--and thus he sent him his "Geburt der Tragödie" (in 1872). After a visit to Basel--Wagner was already preparing for his departure to Bayreuth-- they saw each other again in Munich, where Hans von Bülow, on the orders of King Ludwig II and against Wagner's wishes, conducted Tristan und Isolde.

Thanking him for "den erhabensten Kunsteindruck meines Lebens" (the most sublime impression of art in my life), Nietzsche took this opportunity to present to Hans von Bülow his Manfred Meditation for an evaluation. In a written address that was full of self-irony, he called his music "zweifelhaft" (doubtful), even "entsetzlich" (awful). However, this self-qualification did not prevent von Bülow from rendering an honest opinion. According to von Bülow, he was faced with "das Extremste von phantastischer Extravaganz" (the most extreme in phantastic extravagance), the "Unerquicklichste und Antimusikalischste" (the most unsatisfying and most anti-musical) in a long time. If the entire thing was a joke, he asked, a musical parody of the "music of the future"? Did he, Nietzsche, want to deliberately mock all rules of tonal harmony, of the higher syntax as well as of ordinary orthography? His musical fever product was, in musical terms, the equivalent to a crime in the moral world, with which the musical muse, Euterpe, was raped. If he would allow him to give him some good advice, just in case that he was actually serious with his "Abberation ins Componiergebiet" (abberation into the area of composition), then he should (stick to) composing vocal music, since, in it, the word can lead the way "auf dem wilden Tonmeere" (on the wild sea of tones). In this manner, his music was even more "entsetzlich" (awful) as he, himself, might mean it: namely, harmful to himself in the highest degree. Nevertheless, in this "musical fever product", with all its abberations, one could detect a distinguished mind, and, in a certain sense he, with his staging of the "Tristan", was indirectly guilty of "einen so hohen und erleuchteten Geist wie den Ihrigen, verehrter Herr Professor, in so bedauerliche Klavierkrämpfe gestürzt zu haben" (having thrown such an enlightened mind as yours, esteemed Herr Professor, into such regrettable piano cramps).

In any event, Nietzsche was open enough to communicate the content of this letter to his friends, and thus, he wrote, for example, to Erwin Rohde: "Der Brief Bülows ist für mich unschätzbar in seiner Ehrlichkeit, lies ihn, lache mich aus, glaube mir, daß ich vor mir selbst in einen solchen Schrecken geraten bin, um seitdem kein Klavier anrühren zu können" (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).


  • Category

  • Song

  • Artist

    • Lauretta Altman
  • Album

    • Nietzsche: Music of Friedrich Nietzsche
  • Licensed to YouTube by

    • NaxosofAmerica (on behalf of ATMA Classique), and 1 Music Rights Societies


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