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Sketch of a New Esthetic of Music   By: (1866-1924)

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[ Transcriber's Note: Every effort has been made to replicate this text as faithfully as possible, including inconsistencies in spelling and hyphenation; changes (corrections of spelling and punctuation) made to the original text are listed at the end of this file. ]

Sketch of A New Esthetic of Music


Translated from the German by Dr. TH. BAKER


Copyright, 1907 By FERRUCCIO BUSONI

Copyright, 1911 By G. SCHIRMER



"What seek you? Say! And what do you expect?" "I know not what; the Unknown I would have! What's known to me, is endless; I would go Beyond the end: The last word still is wanting."

[" Der mächtige Zauberer. "]

LOOSELY joined together as regards literary form, the following notes are, in reality, the outcome of convictions long held and slowly matured.

In them a problem of the first magnitude is formulated with apparent simplicity, without giving the key to its final solution; for the problem cannot be solved for generations if at all.

But it involves an innumerable series of lesser problems, which I present to the consideration of those whom they may concern. For it is a long time since any one has devoted himself to earnest musical research.

It is true, that admirable works of genius arise in every period, and I have always taken my stand in the front rank of those who joyfully acclaimed the passing standard bearers; and still it seems to me that of all these beautiful paths leading so far afield none lead upward .

The spirit of an art work, the measure of emotion, of humanity, that is in it these remain unchanged in value through changing years; the form which these three assumed, the manner of their expression, and the flavor of the epoch which gave them birth, are transient, and age rapidly.

Spirit and emotion retain their essence, in the art work as in man himself; we admire technical achievements, yet they are outstripped, or cloy the taste and are discarded.

Its ephemeral qualities give a work the stamp of "modernity;" its unchangeable essence hinders it from becoming "obsolete." Among both "modern" and "old" works we find good and bad, genuine and spurious. There is nothing properly modern only things which have come into being earlier or later; longer in bloom, or sooner withered. The Modern and the Old have always been.

Art forms are the more lasting, the more closely they adhere to the nature of their individual species of art, the purer they keep their essential means and ends.

Sculpture relinquishes the expression of the human pupil, and effects of color; painting degenerates, when it forsakes the flat surface in depiction and takes on complexity in theatrical decoration or panoramic portrayal.

Architecture has its fundamental form, growth from below upward, prescribed by static necessity; window and roof necessarily provide the intermediate and finishing configuration; these are eternal and inviolable requirements of the art.

Poetry commands the abstract thought, which it clothes in words. More independent than the others, it reaches the furthest bounds.

But all arts, resources and forms ever aim at the one end, namely, the imitation of nature and the interpretation of human feelings.

Architecture, sculpture, poetry and painting are old and mature arts; their conceptions are established and their objects assured; they have found the way through uncounted centuries, and, like the planets, describe their regular orbits... Continue reading book >>

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