August Halm

August Halm: A Critical and Creative Life in Music

LEE A. ROTHFARB
Volume: 68
Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 317
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7722/j.ctt81pvj
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  • Book Info
    August Halm
    Book Description:

    In the early 1900s, August Halm was widely acknowledged to be one of the most insightful and influential authors of his day on a wide range of musical topics. Yet, in the eighty years since his untimely death at age 59 (in 1929),Halm-the author of six wid

    eISBN: 978-1-58046-713-1
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. List of Musical Examples
    (pp. vi-vii)
  4. List of Illustrations
    (pp. viii-viii)
  5. Preface
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  6. Notes to the Reader
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  7. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xvii-xx)
  8. Chapter 1 An Intellectual and Creative Life in Music
    (pp. 1-47)

    Württemberg, a separate geopolitical entity until combined with Baden in 1952, may be less well-known than former Prussia, Saxony, or Bavaria for spawning figures of great accomplishment, but it was by no means an unlikely cultural environment to produce and nurture individuals of renown. Celebrated scientists, philosophers, and poets hail from the state. Johannes Kepler (Weil Der Stadt), Albert Einstein (Ulm), Georg W. F. Hegel (Stuttgart), Friedrich Schiller (Marbach/Neckar), Friedrich W. J. Schelling (Leonberg), Eduard Mörike (Ludwigsburg), Friedrich Hölderlin (Lauffen/Neckar), Ludwig Uhland (Tübingen), and Hermann Hesse (Calw) grew up in towns and cities all but one of which (Ulm) lie...

  9. Chapter 2 Formal Dynamism and Musical Logic
    (pp. 48-71)

    Halm’s search for deep musical understanding and for the secrets of effective composition was a lifelong quest. Dissatisfied with mechanical harmony-manual teachings and superficial composition-manual guidance and dismissive of fanciful hermeneutic contrivances, he sought to penetrate to the innermost workings of music to identify and understand its essential processes. Halm located them in configurations of melodic, harmonic, rhythmic, and complementary elements (texture, register, timbre) that combine strategically to produce music’s compelling dynamic flow. There, in music’s dynamic qualities and emergent, teleological design, he discovered the foundation of its structure and psychoauditive impact. “The dynamic activity, the drama of dynamics suffices...

  10. Chapter 3 Analysis between Description and Explanation
    (pp. 72-88)

    Erstwhile opponents of a belief or practice, once ideologically converted, sometimes become its most ardent advocates, but only, or primarily, on the self-appointed terms of the conversion. Such was the case with Halm’s initial opposition to music analysis and later full embrace of it as a path to deep understanding of, and appreciation for, music.¹ More important, however, was his evolved belief that probing analysis, aimed at lay audiences in comprehensible form, was the key to sustaining music culture, to rescuing the Great Masters from misunderstanding and oversimplification by the public, and to combating degenerate, popular music journalism that to...

  11. Chapter 4 Two Cultures: Bach’s Fugue and Beethoven’s Sonata
    (pp. 89-107)

    The title of Halm’s first, best-known, and most-cited monograph, Von zwei Kulturen der Musik (Of Two Cultures of Music, 1913), likely struck readers initially as unusual, even puzzling. What is a “culture” of music, they may have wondered, and what might such a book be about?¹ To Halm, however, for whom the study’s leading ideas had been germinating for more than a decade—going back to around 1900—the notion of a culture of music and of distinguishing two of them was clear. The central themes had crystallized conceptually and music-analytically in several articles from 1902 onward and had been...

  12. Chapter 5 Third Culture: Bruckner’s Symphony
    (pp. 108-129)

    Halm was passionate about Bruckner’s music and its significance for the history of symphonic technique, but at first he was not fully committed to writing a book on the subject. He had just completed the manuscript of Von zwei Kulturen (VzK) in early July 1912—the product of over two years’ work, on and off, amid other activities—when his publisher, Georg Müller, proposed a volume on Bruckner. As we learned in chapter 1, the conversation with Müller began in early September 1912, and by mid-month Halm had produced and submitted an outline to Müller for what would become Die...

  13. Chapter 6 Aesthetic Theory and Compositional Practice: Tradition, Imitation, and Innovation
    (pp. 130-166)

    Composing music in the early twentieth century cannot have been easy. Aspiring composers active in the decades straddling 1900 faced the accumulated weight of tradition, which created a daunting mental barrier—a “very strong pincers” in Stravinsky’s words.¹ In the experimentation of that period we hear composers searching out distinctive voices against reverberating masterworks. Wagner, Brahms, Bruckner, and Mahler had cultivated to full ripeness the fruits of a century’s development. What else could be said?² Experiments in musical Modernism took several directions in pioneering works of composers such as Stravinsky, Bartók, Debussy, and Schoenberg. To seasoned listeners and critics of...

  14. Chapter 7 Halm’s Oeuvre: Wisdom and Prophecy
    (pp. 167-190)

    The early decades of the twentieth century had no lack of prominent figures in the field of music theory, embracing both systematic theory as a generalizing means for demonstrating inter-opus and pan-stylistic commonalities, and in-depth (if unsystematic) analysis as an individualizing means for demonstrating intra-opus uniqueness. Among the best known of those figures are Heinrich Schenker, Hugo Riemann, and Ernst Kurth. Carl Dahlhaus attributed their significance to an obstinate, self-assured one-sidedness. That characteristic, he noted in comments on the 1968 reprint of Kurth’s Romantische Harmonik, seemed a prerequisite to “leave a trace on the thinking of . . . contemporaries...

  15. Notes
    (pp. 191-268)
  16. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 269-284)
  17. Index
    (pp. 285-294)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 295-299)