NMSAT :: Networked Music & SoundArt Timeline

1951 __ « Fernhören »
Heinrich Schenker (1868-1935), Wilhelm Fürtwangler (1886-1954)
Comment : Heinrich Schenker (June 19, 1868 - January 14, 1935) was a musicologist, a composer, and a musician. Searching for the essence of a composition, he analyzed the music and discovered unexpected complexities and structures existing within a composition, presenting themselves in layers, showing the relationships between melody lines and chords. He said that a composition could be understood in its essence by defining the "Urlinie", the kernel line, so to speak, and the "Ursatz", the inner, basic structure which is the fundament of a composition. Wilhelm Furtwangler had been struck by the ideas Schenker put forward in his book "Beethovens Neunte Sinfonie" (Beethoven's Ninth Symphony). Furtwängler writes in his essay on Heinrich Schenker (published in "Ton und Wort", 1954), that he, quite by accident, picked up Schenker's book in 1911, the time when Furtwangler started his career in Lübeck where he was "Kapellmeister". Furtwangler did not agree with everything Schenker wrote and he also found that Schenker could not hold on to his theory of the "Urlinie" completely. Of greater importance however is the idea introduced by Schenker called "Fernhören" (Fernhoren), listening over a distance in time, a philosophical-psychological, natural, inborn attitude of man. It means understanding the greater concept of the music, the structure of a musical work, which goes beyond the annotation, goes beyond a single phrase or a separate movement. "Fernhören" is hearing in perspective, hearing the work's evolution, while being reminded of origin and cause, response and result, which may well lay in an earlier movement or melody. It is the ability of the human being that he can listen in time and space (realm) and thus can grasp the greater architecture of the music, knowing its origin and knowing where it leads to. Heinrich Schenker found that "Fernhören", is typically and most significant for German classical music. (Interpreting this idea of Schenker's to the extreme, one could say that in its essence it is Carl Gustav Jung's "collective unconsciousness" made conscious, and finally materializing in sound.). (Rudolf A. Bruil)Embedded in our discussion of the parts and the whole when it comes to musical composition and performance, is this very paradox of time: the dynamic interaction between the temporally situated part and the ultimately completed totality. It is this yet-to-be-completed totality which must exist within the mind’s ear of the conductor, as if listening to the future, as he negotiates the unfolding of each of the parts in the present. And, he must hear how the performance of the detail in the present, itself acts reciprocally to change the ultimate possibility of the form of the whole-upon-completion. Furtwängler expresses this dynamic quality of musical space-time as the constantly changing interrelationship of the “Nah-hören” (the near-sighted sound of the immediate present) and the “Fernhören” (the far-sighted sound of the completed whole). The mutual effect of one on the other at all times, Furtwängler describes thus: “…the fulfillment of the moment within a larger process. Each individual thing has its own function and this within the development of the whole. The two meet and intersect at each moment.” This dynamic relationship between the future and the present, with each one shaping and bounding the possibility of the other in the context of the performance of musical composition, a Gestalt extended over time, seems to me to be a unique insight into the nature of the “musical gestalt” of which we can gain unique understanding through study (and attempted re-creation) of musical performances of the caliber of those conducted under the baton of Wilhelm Furtwängler. He continues the above cited quote, thus: “... It is not always easy at first to grasp the fact that every detail has its function within the whole, and is not only 'arranged' within this whole, but often has an effect on the whole that goes far beyond its individual importance... This single-mindedness of purpose, this clear and unmistakable cohesion of the whole can only be created through real laws, based in nature." – 1946 W.F. Furtwängler borrows the language of Plato’s idea, as expressed in the Timaeus, of Being and Becoming, to communicate his idea about the dynamic interaction between the present and the future, between the temporally situated part and the ultimately completed totality. In a short note about Beethoven in his notebooks, Furtwängler says: one must see Beethoven’s musical form as a “Being”, and “in the form of Being, a constant Becoming is at work… To experience Becoming in Being, and to let others experience it – to grasp the fleeting life of the moment in the solid form – that is real re-production.” – W.F. 1943. [...] The performer lives in the moment of the music, the present measure of the piece, responding to what came before, setting up what is about to happen, but always hearing the moment in relation to the future echo of the whole – the whole-in-completion, echoing from the future into the ear of the present. This interaction between the “Fernhören”, the sound of the totality, the sound of the ideal in its completion, and the process of temporal performance, from moment to moment, is the nature of the mental experience of the performer. The totality is superior to the detail, but, the performer will also recognize that the mode of execution of any one detail will change the way the totality is heard altogether. So, the detail is intensely important, but always in proportion to the totality as a whole. The being and becoming – they are mutually dynamic. (Matthew Ogden, "Furtwängler’s Secret: The “Furtwängler Principle” In Science and Art", LYM Dynamics Conference, 2009)In his article “Heinrich Schenker. Ein zeitgemäßes Problem” from 1947, Wilhelm Furtwängler presents an interesting view on Schenker. The essential notion in all Schenker’s thinking was according to Furtwängler ‘Fernhören’. This consisted of a wide span hearing that comprehended the internal relation and the direction (cf. ‘Agogik’) of the music, also when the relation was stretched out over many pages in the score [Structural hearing is associative hearing, related to Schenker's "Fernhören", meaning "global structural hearing": listening to a work as a whole rather than to its detailed structure]. It was this kind of wide span ordering that was characteristic for the German music and which revealed its organic character. The organic construction of a musical work could not be revealed by an analysis of form (which was a practice that both Schenker and Furtwängler judged highly deficient). But Furtwängler and Schenker were not alone in their emphasis on hearing. During the first decennials of the twentieth century, the concept of ‘musical hearing’ (‘musikalische Hören’) should become an important term in the writings of many prominent musicians and musicologists (i.e. Mersmann, Schering, Kurth and Riemann) when dealing with the romantic music and its interpretation. Its conceptual background was the nineteenth century’s music psychology, aesthetics, performance practice and music theory. As ‘hearing’ it involved the musical trained ear, and further, a co-constructive competence of the performer as well as the listener (cf. congeniality). But this kind of hearing was also an integral part in the compositional act. Of this reason, it was differentiated from the pure acoustical listening; it involved an inner and imaginative ear. (Erlend Hovland)Consider, for instance, the opening "adagio molto" of Beethoven's First Symphony [...]. A conductor whose duty it is to determine the durations of these initial half-note beats might rely upon a feeling of subdivision here. However, a listener need not have a clear perception of subdivision in order to feel the second half-bar durations as realizations of projected potential or to feel that these durations are "just right". I should add that an experienced conductor might well choose not to beat quarters in performance and might choose to suppress a feeling of subdivision in favor of feeling a unitary duration. In general, beginners or inexperienced performers have greater need for subdividing as a corrective for the inability to feel larger projections -- to ensure against rushing or "cheating" rests and sustained notes. A listener, on the other hand, does not have the responsability for actually producing the durations prescribed by the score and may often feel projective protential differently from the performer. This is not to deny that the performer's feeling is also communicated to the listener and that the possibility for projective "Fernhören" can be enhanced or blocked by a performer's realization. I mention this difference between performer and listener because in testing projective potential and projective realization in examples for which there is no recorded performance, the reader is put in the position of performer and asked to make judgments that may not accurately reflect the perceptions of a listener. Clearly, this difference is most problematic in the judgments I offer. I can by no means guarantee that the judgments I propose will correspond to those of "the listener" or to those of the reader as performer. I can, however, hope that the questions raised by these interpretations are pertinent to the issue of projection and, moreover, that the concept of projection and offer us a way of understanding and valuing such differences. (Christopher Francis Hasty 1997, "Meter as Rhythm", A theory of meter as process, Oxford University Press US, p. 130)
French comment : « Une autre particularité qui n'appartient qu'à la musique tonale, c'est cette localisation que j'ai déjà mentionnée en passant. La cadence, ayant un parcours à faire, a un point de départ et un point d'arrivée. Cela implique que dans une musique vraiment inspirée par l'esprit de la tonalité.ce qui est loin d'être le fait de toutes les musiques écrites sous le règne de la cadence.l'auditeur qui suit le chemin qu'il lui faut parcourir, sait à chaque instant où il se trouve. La musique est continuellement «orientée». C'est là un des effets les plus caractéristiques de la tonalité ; et cela est particulièrement étonnant lorsqu'il s'agit de quelque plan très vaste.par exemple du premier mouvement de la Neuvième Symphonie de Beethoven. Et c'est ce qui donne à la musique tonale sa certitude et son autonomie, et ce qui la libère de toute obligation de «dépeindre», «représenter», ou «imiter» quoi que ce soit. Sa seule trajectoire suffit à la rendre significative et compréhensive. Or, voyons la signification biologique de la «localisation» tonale de la musique. Le sens de l'orientation, l'instinct qui informe l'être vivant de ce qui l'entoure, et où il se trouve et s'en trouve, est un instinct profond et inné de l'animal et de l'homme. Et chez l'homme cet instinct concerne le temps comme l'espace : dans le cours de notre vie, nous n'entreprenons rien, ni ne faisons un pas sans avoir conscience du passé et de l'avenir. Or, la musique qui renonce à la tonalité, manque à tenir compte de cet instinct. A moins de «dépeindre» le monde extérieur ou de s'appuyer sur une fable chorégraphique ou poétique.mais toute musique dite à programme est le fait de quelque «basse époque».elle manque de clarté de démarche. Ses tensions et détentes, ayant renoncé à l'organisation cadentielle, jouent, d'une note à une autre, dans un étroit espace ; en conséquence l'orientation ne se fait qu'à très courte vue. Le musicien atonal nous fait avancer à travers son oeuvre comme à travers une «silve obscure» : en bordure de route, les fleurs et les plantes les plus curieuses attirent l'attention. Mais on ne sait ni d'où on vient ni où l'on va. L'auditeur éprouve le sentiment de se perdre, d'être livré au pouvoir des éléments, voire du chaos... Mais il est indéniable que l'homme moderne trouve dans cette musique un écho de son propre sentiment de la vie, de sa propre modernité. On le voit : la richesse, la liberté, et tout ce que la manière atonale a d'à la fois évocateur, d'incantatoire et de chaotique compense une carence de vitalité ; car c'est cela que dénote ce que nous venons d'appeler son manque d'orientation. Une musique qui renonce à la cadence et à la naturelle répartition des tensions et détentes, et qui ainsi accepte d'ignorer l'assise, la localisation tonale,.nous ne pouvons nous empêcher de la juger biologiquement déficiente, quelles que soient par ailleurs ses qualités : car une musique de cette sorte est ainsi faite que ce qu'elle représente n'est pas un déroulement de vivante énergie musicale. ». (Wilhelm Fürtwangler, Septième Entretien 1947, Musique et Verbe)
Source : Hovland, Erlend, "The Concept of ‘Musical Hearing’ and the Romantic Paradigm", Norwegian Academy of Music.
Source : Fürtwangler, Wilhelm (1947), "Heinrich Schenker. Ein zeitgemäßes Problem", In "Ton und Wort: Aufsätze und Vorträge 1918 bis 1954", Wiesbaden: Brockhaus, 1954.
Source : Fürtwangler, Wilhelm (1954), "Ton und Wort: Aufsätze und Vorträge 1918 bis 1954", Wiesbaden: Brockhaus, 1954.
Source : Fürtwangler, Wilhelm (1954), "Musique et verbe", trad. Jacqueline et Jacques Feschotte, Paris: Albin Michel, 1963; and also, Collection «Pluriel», Hachette, Paris 1986; Paris, Albin Michel/ Hachette, collection Pluriel, 1979.
Source : Schenker, Heinrich (1912), "Beethovens neunte Sinfonie", Vienna: Universal Edition.
Source : Schrenker, Heinrich (1912), "Beethoven's Ninth Symphony", trans. and edited by John Rothgeb, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992.
Source : Thiemel, Matthias (1996), "Tonale Dynamik : Theorie, musikalische Praxis und Vortragslehre seit 1800", Berliner Musik Studien, Sinzig (Ge): Studio Verlag Schewe.
Source : Hagermann, W. (1954), "Fernhören und Fernsehen", Heidelberg: Vowinckel.
Urls : http://www.soundfountain.org/rem/remwolf.html (last visited ) http://www.wlym.com/~dynamics/papers/Ogden_FurtwaenglersSecret.pdf (last visited ) http://www.nmh.no/87/26800/abstracts_2_.pdf (last visited ) http://www.musicologie.org/theses/livres.html (last visited ) http://www.musicologie.org/theses/furtwangler_01.html (last visited )

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