This article explores and explains August Halm's and Heinrich Schenker's differing opinions of Brahms and Bruckner based on Halm's notions of corporeality and spirituality, body and soul, in music, and on differences in symphonic style between the two composers. Corporeality manifests itself in thematic gestures whose contours trace distinctive shapes in music's imaginary space, resulting in the impression of depth, something metaphorically tangible. When the dynamic course of a passage is clearly manifest in the aural immediacy of its rhythmic and thematic gestures, Halm acknowledges its corporeality (Korperlichkeit). When a work's dynamic course is concealed or musically too subtle to be readily perceived, it exemplifies a different quality, spirituality (Geistigkeit), which resides in between the notes and occurs, so to speak, subterraneously. Schenker's Urlinie was thus for Halm a case of unnecessarily "spiritualizing the spiritual yet again."Halm's advocacy for Bruckner's symphonies as marking the beginning of "a new era and culture" was incomprehensible for Schenker, who conceded to Bruckner only a "very modest power of invention." SchenkerÕs unqualified enthusiasm for Brahms, on the other hand, the "last master of German composition," gave Halm a "painful jolt." For Halm, Bruckner is a "cosmic epicist," for Schenker "too much a foreground composer." Letters between Schenker and Halm as well as other, hitherto unknown archival materials among Halm's estate papers delineate Halm's views in contrast to those of Schenker.
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Lee Rothfarb; August Halm on Body and Spirit in Music. 19th-Century Music 1 November 2005; 29 (2): 121–141. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/ncm.2005.29.2.121
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