Recognizing Music as an Art Form

Friedrich Th. Vischer and German Music Criticism, 1848-1887

Barbara Titus

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The importance of F.T. Vischer on 19th-century music criticism Music’s status as an art form was distrusted in the context of German idealist philosophy which exerted an unparalleled influence on the entire nineteenth century. Hegel insisted that the content of a work of art should be grasped in concepts in order to establish its spiritual substantiality (Geistigkeit), and that no object, word or image could accurately represent the content and meaning of a musical work. In the mid-nineteenth century, Friedrich Theodor Vischer and other Hegelian aestheticians kept insisting on art's conceptual clarity, but they adapted the aesthetic system on which this requirement had been based. Their adaptations turned out to be decisive for the development of music criticism, to such an extent that music critics used them to point out musical content and to confirm music’s autonomy as an art form. This book unravels the network of music critics and philosophers, including not only Hegel but also Franz Liszt, Franz Brendel, and Eduard Hanslick, whose works shaped public opinions of music.

This publication is GPRC-labeled (Guaranteed Peer-Reviewed Content).

Part I -The Hegemony of Idealist Philosophy
Chapter one - Thinking about Art
Chapter two - Thinking about Music
Part II - Between Subjectivity and Objectivity
Chapter three - The Bird among the Arts
Chapter four - The End of Art

Part III - Case Studies
Chapter five - Musical Forms as 'Spiritualized Material': Repositioning Eduard Hanslick
Chapter six - Programme Music: Franz Liszt's Negotiation of Hegelian Aesthetics
Chapter seven - Furthering a 'New Form of Consciousness': Franz Brendel's Concept of a New German School
Chapter eight - The Advance of Musical Scholarship

Epilogue - Deconceptualizing Music/ology
Appendix I - Hegelian Glossary
Appendix II - Editions and Translations
Appendix III - Manuscript Sources
Appendix IV - Music Criticism and Idealist Discourse
Appendix V - References to Vischer in Music Periodicals and Treatises


Format: Monograph - ebook

270 pages

ISBN: 9789461661944

Publication: March 21, 2016

Languages: English

Barbara Titus is associate professor of Musicology at the University of Amsterdam.

Cet ouvrage est donc un apport majeur à la philosophie de la musique, à la connaissance des débats qui sous-tendent une musique parfois oubliée. Mais c’est aussi la philosophie du XIXe siècle qui sort enrichie d’une telle étude. [...] Très utile car chaque pays parle, hélas, son propre Hegel, un glossaire hégélien complète ce livre admirablement documenté.
« Analyses et Comptes rendus », Revue philosophique de la France et de l'étranger 2017/2 (Tome 142), p. 229-294. DOI 10.3917/rphi.172.0229

  Revue philosophique

Barbara Titus' Recognizing Music as an Art Form is the first study in any language to present Vischer's musical thought in its historical context and explains its importance in nineteenth-century conceptions of the art. Her book is an impressive piece of work, carefully documented and clearly presented. Mark Evan Bonds, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


This is a welcome contribution to the field of the history of music aesthetics.
Sanna Pederson, University of Oklahoma