Hanslick: An Analysis Of Absolute Music

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Hanslick was a firm believer in absolute music. Absolute music can be defined as instrumental music created purely as music and without the intention to represent something else. Hanslick’s article can be broken down into two main ideas, the value of music and absolute music. I agree with Hanslick’s ideas on how society should criticize music, however, I don’t always agree with his opinion on absolute music. Through the analysis of Brahms’ Symphony No.4, IV, Allegro energico e poassionato, and Strauss’ Don Quixote, Themes and Variations, 1-2, I have concluded that programmatic should be valued not on the program but the craftsmanship. For a long time, music aesthetics were focused on the role of emotion in music instead of the music itself.…show more content…
Strauss’ music was programmatic and because of this, it was in opposition to the ideas set forth by Hanslick. Don Quixote is a tone poem about a hero, Don Quixote, who envisions himself a knight in the days of nobility. The music closely follows and mimics the thoughts and actions of Don Quixote. There are two main themes in this piece, the first one represents Don Quixote and the second is the servant, Sancho Panza. Quixote’s theme is first presented in the solo cello part and is soon joined by solo violin and English horn. The second theme is first found in the bass clarinet and tenor tuba. The themes are said to mimic the voices and feelings of the two characters. The piece doesn’t always have a clear-cut form, but it uses elements of concerto and variations. The first theme can we heard in the form of windmills as seen in measure 60-78. The sound is formed by a conversation between the cello and bass clarinet. The orchestra uses the wood of the bow to make the sound of the creaking blades and a repeated downward arpeggiation in thirds represents Don Quixote falling from his horse. The second theme is meant to portray Quixote’s encounter with the sheep and begins in measure 101. Here, Strauss has the wind instruments flutter tongue in order to sound like the whining of the sheep. In this variation, Strauss uses a technique that Arnold Schoenberg called tone color melody. Tone color melody occurs when, “instruments maintain constant pitches and drop in and out of an orchestral texture, creating a melody of tone colors.” This technique is quite successful in transporting the audience into a dream world. Although Strauss’, Don Quixote, doesn’t have a very traditional form, it still follows that of an absolute theme and variations, and there are evident melodies and rhythms that are used to depict certain
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