Speculation as to the origins of music flourished around 1900, in the climate of the recently institutionalized academic discipline of Musikwissenschaft at German-speaking universities. Even across the methodological divides of the young discipline, virtually all branches of Musikwissenschaft participated in this search, which was fueled by the nineteenth-century "philosophy of origins," a powerful ideology that invested special metaphysical significance in the point of departure. Resonating with such concepts as authenticity, autochthony, stability, and purity, the philosophy of origins encouraged a search particularly for the Germanic origins of music. The article traces how various branches of Musikwissenschaft-psychological, ethnological, theoretical, and historical-contribute to this search by reconstructing these elusive origins of music, and at the same time (to varying degrees) establish a sense of identity. This search for origins was not merely of archaeological interest but became instrumental in defining the meaning of Musik as the object of the wissenschaftlich enterprise in the young discipline-not coincidentally at a time when this object, the tradition of tonal music, was increasingly perceived to be under threat from contemporary composition.
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Alexander Rehding; The Quest for the Origins of Music in Germany Circa 1900. Journal of the American Musicological Society 1 July 2000; 53 (2): 345–385. doi: https://doi.org/10.2307/832011
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