Eduard Hanslick's On the Musically Beautiful
(Vom Musikalisch-Sch nen
, 1854), written and published before the author turned 30, is a watershed document in the history of aesthetics, and of thought about music generally.
The notion of "absolute music," which lies at the heart of the treatise, is now more than ever at the center of discussions about music, particularly that of the Classic and Romantic eras. Rothfarb and Landerer's translation includes three introductory essays offering fresh perspectives on Hanslick, and on the origins, publications, and translation history of his treatise, as well as its central concepts and philosophical underpinnings. The volume also includes thorough annotations, a readers' guide, a glossary of important terms and concepts, and an appendix, which comprises the original opening of Chapter 1, substantially rewritten in subsequent editions, as well as the original ending of the treatise that was excised by Hanslick in later editions. The book's ideas, cogently and often wittily expressed, are mandatory reading for anyone interested in eighteenth and nineteenth-century music and its cultural and intellectual background.