Der „Leise Ton“ der ästhetik der Kunstreligion


  • Matjaž Barbo


literature and music, Robert Schumann, hermeneutics of music, motto, semantics of music, Kunstreligion, Literatur und Musik, Hermeneutik der Musik, Semantik der Musik


Schumann wrote onto the first edition of his Fantasy in C major (op. 17) the famous motto of the poem by Friedrich Schlegel. The referred “gentle tone“ (ein leiser Ton) of the verses is an allusion to the secret dedication of the composition, understandable for those most sensitive listeners only who can listen really carefully. A clue of his motto indicates on one side real and concrete dedication. With no doubt the “secret listener” of Schumann’s work is his dear Clara during their physical separation. A typical romantic distance inflamed the longing for his remote love. Schumann explicitly described Clara as the “tone of the motto” in one of his letters. After all this is also stressed by the use of a quotation from Beethoven’s lieder with a meaningful title Nimm sie hin denn, diese Lieder, taken from the cycle with similarly evocative title An die ferne Geliebte. But at the same time the hidden silent tone of Schlegel’s motto (and Schumann’s composition as well) confesses a belief in an elevated mission of the art as a revelation of the remote worlds of eternal Truth and Beauty; worlds that are otherwise invisible to the eyes of ordinary mortals, rapt with the profane, ordinary, and common concerns. “A gentle tone” of Schlegel’s poem can be revealed to the secret listener, “who listens in secret” only (für den, der heimlich lauschet). In the latter we can recognize the divinely inspired genius, the artist who represents the highest priest of the then newly asserted religion of art (Kunstreligion). Only to the artist the open vastness of the transcendency of the meta-world is accessible – the world of hidden Truth, “verbalised” by the “gentle tone” of the art. Music and literature are only rays of its prismatic fracturing. And an insight into the art, into the full light of the Truth can be enabled by the amalgamation of the arts into an integrated totality.