Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science.  Die fröhliche Wissenschaft.

First published in 1882.

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German Music.

German music, more than any other, has now become European music ; because the changes which Europe experienced through the Revolution have therein alone found expres sion : it is only German music that knows how to express the agitation of popular masses, the tre mendous artificial uproar, which does not even need to be very noisy, while Italian opera, for example, knows only the choruses of domestics or soldiers, but not "the people."  There is the additional fact that in all German music a profound bourgeois jealousy of the noblesse can be traced, especially a jealousy of esprit and Wgance, as the expressions of a courtly, chivalrous, ancient and self confident society.  It is not music like that of Goethe's musician at the gate, which was pleasing also "in the hall," and to the king as well; it is not here said: "The knights looked on with martial air; with bashful eyes the ladies."  Even the Graces are not allowed in German music without a touch of remorse ; it is only with Pleasantness, the country sister of the Graces that the German begins to feel morally at ease and from this point up to his enthusiastic, learned, and often gruff "sublimity" (the Beethoven like sublimity), he feels more and more so.  If we want to imagine the man of this music, well, let us just imagine Beethoven as he appeared beside Goethe, say, at their meeting at Teplitz : as semi barbarism beside culture, as the masses beside the nobility, as the good natured man beside the good and more than "good" man, as the visionary beside the artist, as the man needing comfort beside the comforted, as the man given to exaggeration and distrust beside the man of reason, as the crank and self tormenter, as the foolishly enraptured, blessedly unfortunate, sincerely immoderate man, as the pretentious and awkward man, and altogether as the "untamed man" : it was thus that Goethe conceived and characterised him, Goethe, the exceptional German, for whom a music of equal rank has not yet been found!  Finally, let us consider whether the present continually extending contempt of melody and the stunting of the sense for melody among Germans should not be understood as a democratic impropriety and an after effect of the Revolution?  For melody has such an obvious delight in conformity to law, and such an aversion to everything evolving, unformed and arbitrary, that it sounds like a note out of the ancient European regime, and as a seduction and guidance back to it.  
 

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