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Music and the Idea of a World

Music and the Idea of a World

Peter Kalkavage

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TK-page paperback / 6" x 9" / ISBN 9781589881860 / Publication Date: 3/19/2024 (available for pre-order)

Music and the Idea of a World explores the bond between music and world by reflecting on great musical compositions and works by great thinkers from antiquity to the present. World, here, has several meanings. It is the natural world or cosmos, the inner world of feeling and thought, world history, and the world of tones (the musical universe). The book is intended for philosophic-minded readers who are fascinated by music and music lovers who enjoy thinking about the philosophic questions that music raises.

The seven-chapter journey begins with a contrast between the cosmologies of Plato and Schopenhauer (followed by a discussion of Palestrina’s music and the world of the Bible). It then proceeds to chapters on music and nature in Victor Zuckerkandl’s Sound and Symbol, a love song from Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, a love song from Mozart’s Magic Flute, Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde in relation to Schopenhauer’s cosmology of the will, twelve-tone music as the image of totalitarianism in Thomas Mann’s Doctor Faustus, and the world of the inner life in Francis Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites.

Peter Kalkavage is the author of The Logic of Desire: An Introduction to Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit (Paul Dry Books, 2007). He has translated the Timaeus and co-translated the Sophist, Phaedo, Statesman, Symposium, and Meno—all for Hackett Publishing Co. Kalkavage has been teaching at St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland for over forty-five years, and for the last thirty years, he has been the director of The St. John’s Chorus, which regularly performs sacred music from the Renaissance to the present.
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