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Chapter 6 - The Persistence of Sound

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 September 2009

James H. Donelan
Affiliation:
University of California, Santa Barbara
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Summary

Two hundred years have passed since the premiere of Beethoven's Fifth and Sixth Symphonies, the publication of Hegel's Phenomenology, the end of Wordsworth's Golden Decade, and the beginning of Hölderlin's madness, yet their influence is everywhere. Beethoven's works are performed, recorded, and downloaded more often than any composer except for perhaps Mozart. Hegel's works are selling well, if not briskly, in any bookstore of reasonable size; his influence among intellectuals in many fields rivals that of Aristotle and Machiavelli. Wordsworth is an industry, with new editions of his poetry, along with biographies and critical works, coming out at a steady rate. Even Hölderlin, who languished in obscurity for nearly a century, has many editions and translations going into multiple printings; his major critics, Heidegger, Szondi, Adorno, Henrich, and de Man, have themselves become objects of study. These four figures –, Hölderlin, Hegel, Wordsworth, and Beethoven – occupy a greater place in the cultural imagination than ever, for reasons that have nothing to do with profit motives, official approval, or nostalgia. They remain important simply because their works address issues of identity, freedom, and beauty that still matter.

Still, I feel obligated to make a brief case for their continued relevance that goes beyond the mere observation that so many people still find them important – too many intelligent writers have argued that their popularity is not necessarily the direct result of genuine value and that their works are merely artifacts of a more naïve era.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2008

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  • The Persistence of Sound
  • James H. Donelan, University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Book: Poetry and the Romantic Musical Aesthetic
  • Online publication: 22 September 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511482076.007
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  • The Persistence of Sound
  • James H. Donelan, University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Book: Poetry and the Romantic Musical Aesthetic
  • Online publication: 22 September 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511482076.007
Available formats
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Send book to Google Drive

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

  • The Persistence of Sound
  • James H. Donelan, University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Book: Poetry and the Romantic Musical Aesthetic
  • Online publication: 22 September 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511482076.007
Available formats
×