Professor Lee Rothfarb recently published his fourth book, Eduard Hanslick's On the Musically Beautiful: A New Translation, with Christoph Landerer via Oxford University Press. This new version provides the most accurate translation to date of one of the most highly-regarded treatises on music aesthetics ever published, with supplementary texts and guides to facilitate study.
Written in 1854, Hanslick’s original work explores the concept of “absolute music,” or the idea that some music is written purely as music, without representing or illustrating anything else. This idea falls in direct contrast to “program music,” or music that portrays an extra-musical narrative. These two ideas ran parallel in eighteenth and nineteenth-century music, with composers such as Antonín Dvo?ák and Johannes Brahms representing the “absolute music” camp and others, such as Hector Berlioz and Richard Wagner, exploring the story-telling limits of “program music” with works such as Symphonie fantastique (Berlioz) and Die Walküre (Wagner).
Rothfarb and Landerer provide three introductory essays with their translation, offering new perspectives on Hanslick and the origins, publications, and translation history of the treatise. The essays also offer insight into the central themes and philosophical ideas highlighted in the work. In addition to the essays, the two scholars incorporated thorough annotations, a readers' guide, a glossary of key terms and concepts, and an appendix, which includes the original opening of Chapter 1 and the original ending of the treatise that was removed by Hanslick in later editions.
“In our new translation of Hanslick's watershed treatise, On the Musically Beautiful, we have tried to strike a balance between readability and comprehensibility in English, on one hand, and on the other, faithfulness to Hanslick's characteristic mid-19th-century vocabulary and mode of expression in German,” said Professor Rothfarb. “We believe we have succeeded in accurately rendering Hanslick's meaning, and hope that the translation and its accompanying essays and other elements will be a useful resource for scholars and performers.”
Professor Rothfarb’s previous publications have explored the life and work of Ernst Kurth and August Halm, both respected theorists of their time. A complete listing of Professor Rothfarb’s publications and bio can be found on his faculty page.
December 7, 2018 - 3:21pm