Why You Cannot Leave Sibelius Out

My title is appropriated from Richard Taruskin’s keynote lecture at the 2006 Bartók conference in Budapest, substituting Sibelius for Bartók.[1] His title pertains to the astonishing omission of Bartók from the recent Cambridge History of Twentieth-Century Music;[2] mine to the equally surprising exclusion of Sibelius from Taruskin’s own Oxford History of Western Music.[3]

‘It is not as though the name Bartók never appears in The Cambridge History of Twentieth-Century Music (any more than the name Sibelius never appears in The Oxford History of Western Music)’, Taruskin writes and notes that there are eighteen index entries for Bartók.[4] One of them, however, refers to a page on which Bartók’s name cannot be found (p. 111); and then there is at least one page (p. 73) on which it occurs but for which there is no entry. Here, the author Christopher Butler cites (incorrectly) a sentence from Paul Griffiths’s Modern Music without noticing that the sentence he cites is itself a quotation from Bartók’s autobiography.[5] Worse is that none of the 22 contributors to the volume really covers Bartók’s music in the way Arnold Whittall, in his chapter, discusses the music of Strauss and Vaughan Williams, Poulenc, Hindemith, and Prokofiev or Britten and Shostakovich. Of Bartók’s works (except for the string quartets, referred to as a group) only the Miraculous Mandarin and the Cantata profana are mentioned by name, the former for its ‘urban savagery’ and the latter as an example of ‘Weltanschauungsmusik’.

One gets the feeling that historians have completely lost touch with reality. Such treatment does not do justice to the prominence of Bartók’s music in the repertory, neither at present nor at the time these texts were written; nor does it relate to the way Bartók and his music are evaluated in other literature on twentieth-century music, old or new. In the introduction to the volume, the editor, Nicholas Cooke, makes a sort of lame excuse that isn’t one: ‘It is hard to know whether this is to be seen as an accidental shortcoming that the editors should have remedied, or as symptomatic of a revaluation of twentieth-century classicism that makes Bartók’s particular synthesis appear less important than it once did. Time will tell; pending that our authors’ priorities stand.’[6] ‘What nonsense,’ Taruskin replies. ‘Cooke was being silly as well as disingenuous’, and failed ‘to do his job properly.’[7]

Bartók’s coverage (or the lack of it) in the Cambridge History can only be seen in correct proportion when compared to that of his contemporaries. In their introduction, the editors unsurprisingly find the music of the century split in two. There is ‘a progressive, modernist mainstream’, ‘consolidated and focused through Schoenberg’s development of the serial technique, leading after the hiatus of the Second World War to the increasingly systematic approaches associated with the “Darmstadt” composers’ on the one hand; and then a ‘more dispersed Northern European mainstream’ that ‘might be imagined round – say – Ravel and Milhaud in France, Elgar and Holst in Britain, Nielsen and Sibelius in Scandinavia, Rachmaninov and Stravinsky in and out of Russia’ on the other. The random pairing of composers in this latter ‘mainstream’ – where are Bartók and Janáček?—makes the whole notion suspect. If a mainstream is ‘dispersed’, is it still a mainstream at all? It would certainly take some courage to abandon this petrified dialectical model of two opposite mainstreams. But to find another kind of approach, richer in nuances, would doubtlessly be rewarding and more appropriate at this time when the aesthetics of the ‘progressive, modernist mainstream’ and its post-war Darmstadtian lower course have lost much of its authority.[8]

Compared to Bartók, Sibelius is slightly better off in the Cambridge History, not with regard to the number of index entries, but to the substance of the references. The seven symphonies are mentioned as a group (as are Bartók’s string quartets) but, in addition, Nos. 1, 4 and 7 are given some individual attention, as well as The Oceanides, The Bard, Tapiola and Finlandia. There are also attempts to find a place for Sibelius in history. Leon Botstein identifies him (among others) in a sequence of events that took place after the Second World War. First, ‘in the final decades of the century a group of composers’, such as Henze and Penderecki, ‘abandoned modernism’ and ‘returned to an older palette of musical expression, one that circumvented the radical innovations that appeared between 1920 and 1950.’ Then, as a consequence, ‘the place in history and the repertory of the vital but once-disparaged twentieth-century conservative and neoclassical tradition, including Strauss, Britten, Sibelius, Shostakovich and a host of more minor figures, has experienced a striking reassessment as central and not marginal to the twentieth century.’[9]

In this figure of thought, the observations may be correct, but the cause-effect relation between them seems unlikely; and, while the repertory referred to as ‘conservative and neoclassical’ has experienced some fluctuation over the decades, it has always been there. But of a reassessment of its place in history, if ‘history’ means ‘written history’, there are very few signs, yet. It is as if those who write history live in a completely different world than performers and audiences.

Peter Franklin, as a matter of fact, seems to think that way. He writes: ‘That the Sibelius symphonies were written off by Adorno and other high modernists as “nationalist”, essentially popular and therefore lacking in genuine contemporary relevance, contrarily stresses their relevance, along with such other symphonies as Shostakovich’s Fourth, Fifth, and Seventh: they became sites of musical expression and experience in which power and nostalgia, “heroic” engagement, escape, lamentation, or euphoric communal celebration could be figured in ways that were immediately decipherable in the concert hall or the newly available privacy of “home listening”, but endlessly retractable, negotiable, or even deniable in verbal commentaries and critical discourse.’[10]

Pointing in the same direction is Christopher Butler’s remark that artistic innovation and renewal ‘needn’t come from an avant-garde, which usually groups together artists who are just a bit more self-conscious about “progress”, and more theoretically aware of the nature of art (or at least of that which they don’t like)’ and that you ‘can also make progress in a less ludicrously self-conscious manner, even if your attachment to consensus practices may seem to be a “conservative” feature.’[11]

Nevertheless, there is no comprehensive coverage of Sibelius’s music in the Cambridge History, as there is no comprehensive coverage of Bartók’s, nothing that could be compared to, say, Arnold Whittall’s essay in Musical Composition in the Twentieth Century or Alex Ross’s chapter in The Rest is Noise.[12]

If one does not accept Nicolas Cooke’s explanation that the omission of Bartók can be seen ‘as symptomatic of a revaluation of twentieth-century classicism’, and if one thinks that Sibelius has not been given the weight he deserves, one must ask for an explanation. When it comes to Bartók, Taruskin identifies two main reasons for his neglect in the Cambridge History: the first is what he calls the ‘poietic fallacy’, and the second is Germanocentrism. It seems to me that the same two apply to Sibelius as well.

The poietic fallacy, as Taruskin defines it in his review article of Allen Shawn’s book Arnold Schoenberg’s Journey, is ‘the conviction that what matters most (or more strongly yet, that all that matters) in a work of art is the making of it, the maker’s input’; or that structure and coherence, in which the significance of music inheres, ‘are the fruits of the composer’s imagination, affording those moments of profound and intense beauty that the listener will discover “if he is fortunate”.’ It further means that the ‘composer’s task, and the value of the composer’s product, are again unrelated, except fortuitously, to the listener’s pleasure.’[13] This line of thought bears traces of German idealism. Eduard Hanslick speaks of imagination as ‘the organ from and for which all artistic beauty comes in the first place’,[14] and remarks that the beautiful is beautiful ‘only for the pleasure of an observer, but not because of it’,[15] which means that it is objective and independent of anybody’s liking or disliking and in this sense almost like a truth that is independent of anybody’s opinion.

Part of the ‘poietic fallacy’, or a consequence of it, Taruskin remarks, is ‘the measurement of an artist’s value in terms of influence on other artists, the concomitant overrating of technical innovation, the delimitation of the purview of criticism to matters of structure and craft, and the derogation of other critical approaches as vulgarian.’[16]

This is how Bartók is viewed in the Cambridge History, ‘entirely alone, sitting within the four walls of his workshop, producing scores.’ No hint of him as a performer, teacher, scholar, emigrant or a controversial figure whose ‘music was the site of one of the great cruxes, indeed one of the great pitched battles, in the reception history of twentieth-century music.’[17] Much more important than the sheer making of artefacts, Taruskin asserts, is ‘the social mediation and reception of music, and the buffeting the arts and their practitioners have suffered in the turbulent political environment of the twentieth century.’ These are the things, Taruskin concludes, ‘that make Bartók indispensable to the historiography of twentieth-century music.’[18]

Especially important for Taruskin is Bartók’s response to the Nazi Entartete Musik exhibition in 1938. ‘Stravinsky protested that he had been included, Bartók protested that he had been excluded’, Taruskin writes, referring to Stravinsky’s letter to Willi Strecker of B. Schott’s Söhne from 27th May 1938, on the one hand, and Bartók’s letter to Hans Priegnitz from 12th January 1939, on the other.[19] But Bartók’s letter to Hans Priegnitz doesn’t support this claim. He only answers a request to perform his First Piano Concerto on German radio by saying that ‘I am, by the way, astonished that such “degenerate” music should be selected for – of all things – a radio broadcast.’[20] Apparently there had been a rumour, though, about some kind of a protest earlier, since, in a letter to the editor of the Budapest newspaper Az Est, Bartók denies having ‘made, or sent, any statement to German authorities’ up to the date of the letter, 27th March 1938,[21] i.e. two months before the opening of the exhibition in Düsseldorf.

This alleged protest to German authorities, of which I have been unable to find any document in the literature,[22] Taruskin sees as ‘Bartók’s finest hour’. His emigration to America, Taruskin further remarks, ‘was not undertaken (as Stravinsky’s was) for the sake of convenience’, but ‘out of idealistic principle’, and therefore, Bartók is the one who most awe-inspiringly exemplifies ‘uncompromising devotion to an exacting humanitarian code’.[23]

This argument is part of Taruskin’s campaign against the ‘poietic fallacy’, against the conviction that all that matters in a work of art is what it is in itself. He wants the ‘whole story’, not just the music.[24] This seems justifiable to some extent. It is perfectly clear, to quote a formulation by Lydia Goehr,[25] that musical works ‘are tainted, influenced, shaped, and conditioned by their contexts – historical, cultural, social, political, economic, religious, and psychological’. One such work in Bartók’s output is the Sixth Quartet, the understanding of which remains incomplete without knowledge of its historical context (similar examples can be found in Sibelius’s music around 1900).[26] If the ‘whole story’ means a well- balanced taking into account of the intrinsic quality of the music, its significance and its relevance for the time and the society in which it was conceived, then there can be no objection to it. But if it means scrutinizing the life of a composer as a private person, then it is utterly inappropriate. What a composer is as a private person, what his or her race, nationality and mother tongue, social background and colour of skin, sexual orientation and political opinions may be: all this is irrelevant. Bartók’s ‘uncompromising devotion to an exacting humanitarian code’ certainly belongs to history, but not to the history of music.

The use and misuse of an artist and his art for extra-musical purposes, political, commercial or whatever, again are pertinent to the history of music. In many cases such things affect the position of the music in the repertory and in people’s minds, often for a long time, as if music somehow had an ideological content attached to it afterwards and from outside. Such is the case of, say, Sibelius’s Second Symphony that continues to carry the nationalist label Kajanus once assigned to it.[27]

Bartók’s marginalization is not a singular phenomenon, it is – and this is Taruskin’s second point – ‘a symptom of a greater misinterpretation and a traditional one, which goes by the name of Germanocentrism.’ This claim might seem surprising if one thinks that such a phenomenon can be met only in German musical historiography, where it goes back to Johann Nicolaus Forkel and Franz Brendel, lives on in the authorship of Adorno, and shows no signs of weakening in the writings of the late twentieth- century historians Hans Heinrich Eggebrecht and Hermann Danuser.[28] But, according to Taruskin, it is not a German phenomenon only, it is, in fact, ‘so thoroughly ingrained in Anglophone musicology that is has become transparent.’[29]

Taruskin calls it a ‘disease’, the main symptom of which is ‘to confuse the particular with the universal.’[30] This opinion is today supported by some German musicologists as well, such as Bernd Sponheuer, who discerns two ideal types of the ‘German in music’, one ‘exclusivist’ and the other ‘universalist’. On the one hand German music is based on ‘depth, hard work, and thoroughness’ (Tiefsinn, Arbeit, Gründlichkeit) in contradistinction to the sensuality (Sinnlichkeit) of non-German music; on the other it has a ‘universal’ and ‘synthetic’ quality as opposed to the national character of the music of other nations. Therefore it ‘brings the “purely human” to its fullest expression’.[31]

From the point of view of this concept of the German in music, Bartók and Sibelius are equally unacceptable. Both come ‘from the periphery’,[32] from countries that have no classical tradition in music, let alone a cultural identity. Schoenberg put it as follows in 1947: ‘Peace after the First World War granted political independence to nations which culturally were far from ready for it. Nevertheless even small nations of six to ten million people expected to be regarded as cultural units, nations whose national characteristics expressed themselves in many ways: in their applied arts, weaving, ceramics, painting, singing and playing and, finally, even composing music.’[33]

Bartók’s guilt lies in his rejection of atonality, his refusing to reconcile himself to the demands of the ‘tendency of the material’ on the one hand, and his use of folk music on the other. In Adorno’s ears, his late music had a backward effect that made even many of his most radical works, such as the First Violin Sonata, appear harmless. ‘What once seemed a prairie fire’, Adorno wrote in 1954, ‘reveals itself as Csárdás, and even the exposed piano pieces in “Out of Doors” sound today like a dried up Debussy, a kind of softened art of the sentiment.’[34] René Leibowitz accused Bartók of a ‘spirit of compromise’ because of his rejection of twelve-note composition, the sole method that, according to him, allows a mastery of all the possibilities of chromatic polyphony.[35]

Sibelius made the same mistakes. He composed tonally in the era of atonal music that Schoenberg initiated in 1907–09. ‘Not only are these sounds obsolete and unfashionable. They are false. They no longer fulfill their function… When a contemporary composer, such as Jean Sibelius, makes do entirely with tonal resources, they sound just as false as do the tonal enclaves in atonal music.’[36] And if Sibelius did not make use of folk music, he certainly worshipped nature as a source of beauty, strength and inspiration. The sound of nature that many an urban intellectual in Central Europe hears in his music prevents it from rising to universality.[37] Nature was seen as the opposite of culture.

Adorno’s and Leibowitz’s criticism of Bartók and Sibelius is camouflaged as criticism of the material and structure of their music, but is fundamentally ideological, and part of the ‘purification’ of cultural life that took place both in Germany and in France after the war.[38] In Adorno’s thinking, musical taste and political orientation correlated in such a way that tonality and folk music were associated with Nazi populism and ‘degenerated’ New Music with anti-Nazism. Leibowitz saw it the same way. He was influenced by Sartre’s ideas and French purification trials against the collaborators. In his view, Bartók showed moral weakness and disquieting lack of purity when, after the Fourth Quartet (1928), he abandoned modernism.[39]

In ‘Music of the Early Twentieth Century’, the fourth volume of his Oxford History of Western Music, Richard Taruskin dedicates 56 pages (out of around 800) to Bartók and shows that there is no reason, even in poietic terms, to disregard his music, rich in technical invention and solid in craft as it is.[40] The more surprising it is to find Sibelius mentioned on three pages only, and not even for the sake of his own music, but as ‘the most tangible model’ for the American composer Roy Harris. In this context Taruskin describes Sibelius as follows: ‘Sibelius, while acknowledged (especially by American critics) as a legitimate heir to the romantic symphonic tradition, was widely regarded as the last of a dying breed; by many Europeans, indeed, he was already thought of as a sort of dinosaur. He had not produced a new symphony in fifteen years; although he lived to the age of ninety-one, he would never do so. His unironized rhetorical eloquence suffered in the general postwar atmosphere of disillusion. Although his later symphonies were decidedly restrained compared with his prewar output, they bore a suspicious taint of bombast.’[41] To support his opinion, he then quotes Virgil Thomson’s well-known sentence that Sibelius is ‘vulgar, self-indulgent and provincial beyond all description.’[42] Regrettably, the quotation is not accurate: Thomson did not say that of Sibelius but of his Second Symphony.[43]

Essentially, Taruskin’s assessment is perfectly in line with the way Sibelius is handled in Hermann Danuser’s Die Musik des 20. Jahrhunderts, published two decades earlier. ‘While, for example, the English symphonic music of Edward Elgar and Ralph Vaughan Williams or the Finnish of Jean Sibelius, which – composed far from the centres where the conversions of the tradition were taking place around 1910 – were still building upon the carrying capacity of the great tonal forms and were therefore – despite their partly national, partly international popularity – doomed to epigonism, Mahler’s late music brought not only the fin de siècle but a great epoch, the musical nineteenth century, to a conclusion.’[44] These lines are worthy of quoting not only as a touching example of unanimousness between two historians of totally different breeds, but also as illustrative of German exclusivism when it comes to symphonic music around 1900.

In ‘Music in the Late Twentieth Century’, the fifth volume of his history, Taruskin mentions Sibelius once, wondering how Peter Maxwell Davies, of all people, came to ‘write six proper symphonies cast deliberately in a line with those of Sibelius, long a favourite with British audiences.’[45] This is all Taruskin’s readers will find on Sibelius in two large volumes covering twentieth-century music, which indicates that, in Taruskin’s world, Sibelius doesn’t belong to the twentieth century.

The curious reader then turns to the nineteenth century to see if he can find him there; and there he is, on the last couple of pages of ‘Music in the Nineteenth Century’ in the company of Grieg, Sæverud, Nielsen, Pettersson, Vagn Holmboe and Copland, a strange collection of some Scandinavians and an American ‘nationalist’ – strange because all of them (except Grieg) are twentieth-century composers.[46]

Taruskin’s decision to push Sibelius back to the nineteenth century was possibly encouraged by Carl Dahlhaus’s discussion of Sibelius in Nineteenth-Century Music. There is one difference, though. For Dahlhaus, the nineteenth century in music is the period between 1814 and 1914, politically between the Congress of Vienna and the outburst of the First World War.[47] When he writes that ‘it would be wrong to call a work like his Fourth Symphony a late-romantic relic in need of special geographical pleading to justify it aesthetically in the midst of musical modernism’[48] but neglects to comment on the later symphonies, this does not mean, as James Hepokoski supposes, that in Dahlhaus’s view, ‘after the Fourth Symphony Sibelius’s music no longer belongs to “history”.’[49] The later symphonies are simply outside the range of his book.

Now one becomes curious about what Taruskin has to say about Sibelius as a nineteenth-century composer. First, he describes the reception of Sibelius’s music in various countries, naming friends and enemies. ‘His ten symphonic poems, composed between 1892 (En Saga) and 1926 (Tapiola), and, even more decisively, his seven symphonies, composed between 1899 and 1924, gained him widespread recognition at home, in the rest of Scandinavia, and in the English speaking countries (though significantly less so in Germany and hardly at all in the Romance-speaking world) as the greatest symphonist after Brahms. His reputation has endured vicissitudes and challenges (especially since the 1960s, when Gustav Mahler began to emerge as a repertory composer), and Sibelius has never been without detractors, but the long controversy is in itself testimony to Sibelius’s potency.’

Second, he writes of Sibelius as a nationalist, describing Finlandia as a ‘noisy festivity culminating in a cantabile hymn that… could be variously read as celebratory or seditious.’ Third, he makes comments on some works, mentions Sibelius’s conversation with Mahler, shows some themes from the ‘cryptic’ Fourth and, exactly like Dahlhaus, cites Sibelius’s spring-water metaphor of the Sixth and notes that the form of the Seventh ‘has been for generations of analysts and commentators an enduring riddle’. Finally, he turns to Sibelius’s position as a national monument, to his enormous authority in the 1920s and 1930s and to his posthumous reputation, writing that having ‘been touted by the Nazis during World War II as a result of his country’s alliance with Germany (motivated by a well-grounded fear of Soviet Russia…), Sibelius fell into a trough of disdain for a couple of decades, written off as a reactionary during a time of avant-garde ascendency, and only regained full respectability in the 1970s.’ [50]

What Taruskin omits, is that Sibelius’s music has become increasingly influential on contemporary music, especially in the 1980s and 1990s.[51] This is one reason why you cannot leave Sibelius out. When writing on Bartók in chapter 7 of ‘Music in the Early Twentieth-Century’ Taruskin uses Bartók’s own writings as a source and quotes some theoretical work on his music (by Elliot Antokoletz, George Perle, and Leo Treitler) from the 1950s and 1970s. In addition to that, he makes analytical observations of his own on some works (such as the Bagatelles op. 6, and Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta), which show that, while not being a ‘card-carrying Batókian’,[52] he is well acquainted with the Hungarian master’s music. For some reason, he chooses not to do similar work on Sibelius, although analytical literature and other relevant sources on Sibelius’s music were readily available years before the publication of his book.[53] This must be seen as a value judgment. Does Virgil Thomson’s invective from 1940 (or Adorno’s ‘Gloss’ from 1938) still obscure clear sight of Sibelius’s music in some Anglophone musicology, or is it his alleged Nazi-mindedness? Influence, technical innovation, structure and craft all belong to the realm of ‘poietics’. When it comes to ‘the social mediation and reception of music, and the buffeting the arts and their practitioners have suffered in the turbulent political environment of the twentieth century’, Sibelius is no less interesting a case than Schoenberg and Bartók. Taruskin seems to be aware of this, but he chooses not to elaborate on it, either.

One final point deserves a comment. Taruskin begins his review article of Allen Shawn’s Arnold Schoenberg’ s Journey by writing that ‘During his lifetime, and even – astonishingly – in the half-century since his death, the music of Arnold Schoenberg has been influential and controversial out of all proportion to the frequency with which it has ever been performed or otherwise disseminated.’[54] Exactly the opposite is true of the music of Sibelius, and this is perhaps the most compelling reason not to leave him out. Music history is, after all, not made within the four walls of the composer’s (and the historian’s) workshop only, but in the concert hall, where the composer meets the grand jury: the audience.

[1] See Richard Taruskin, ‘Why You Cannot Leave Bartók Out,’ in Studia Musicologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 47 (2006), pp. 265–277.

2] The Cambridge History of Twentieth-Century Music (ed. Nicolas Cooke and Anthony Pople), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

[3] Richard Taruskin, Music in the Early Twentieth-Century and Music in the Late Twentieth Century (The Oxford History of Western Music, vol. 4 and 5), Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010 [2005].

[4] Leon Botstein, ‘Music of a century: museum culture and the politics of subsidy’, pp. 47, 50 and 55; Christopher Butler, ‘Innovation and the avant-garde, 1900–20’, pp. 73, 75, 77 and 83; Stephen Banfield, ‘Music, text and stage: the tradition of bourgeois tonality to the Second World War’, p. 115; Peter Franklin, ‘Between the wars: traditions, modernisms’, p. 193; Joseph Auner, ‘Proclaiming the mainstream: Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern’, p. 244; Hermann Danuser, ‘Rewriting the past: classicisms of the inter- war period’, p. 279; Michael Walter, ‘Music of seriousness and commitment: the 1930s and beyond’, p. 301; Arnold Whittall, ‘Individualism and accessibility: the moderate mainstream, 1945–75’, pp. 366 and 378; Andrew Blake, ‘To the millennium: music as twentieth-century commodity’, p. 485; Alastair Williams, ‘Ageing of the new: the museum of musical modernism’, p. 515.

[5] Butler writes: ‘Such researches could be technically emancipating, as in Bartók’s collection and classification of folk music from 1904–1919, which “revealed to men [!] the possibility of a total emancipation from the hegemony of the major-minor system” in favour of a return towards church modes, and to ancient Greek and even more “primitive” scales (notably the pentatonic).’ The quotation is from Paul Griffiths, Modern Music, London, 1994, p. 57. In Bartók’s ‘Selbstbiographie’ the passage reads as follows: ‘Das Studium all dieser Bauernmusik war deshalb von entscheidender Bedeutung für mich, weil sie mich [!] auf die Möglichkeit einer vollständigen Emanzipation von der Alleinherrschaft des bisherigen Dur- und Moll-Systems brachte. Denn der weitaus überwiegende und gerade wertvollere Teil des gewonnenen Melodienschatzes ist in den alten Kirchentonarten, respektive in altgriechischen und gewissen noch primitiveren (namentlich pentatonischen) Tonarten gehalten …” See Documenta Bartókiana 2 (ed. D. Dille), Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1965, p. 118.

[6] Nicolas Cook with Anthony Pople, ‘Introduction’, p. 4.

[7] Taruskin, ‘Why’, pp. 266–267. See also Richard Taruskin, ‘Speed Bumps’, in Nineteenth-Century Music, XXIX, No. 2 (2005–06), pp. 185–207.

[8] See for instance Benoît Duteurtre, Requiem pour une avant-garde. Nouvelle édition revue, corrigée et complétée par l’auteur, Paris: Les belles lettres, 2006 [1995].

[9] Botstein, ‘Music of a century: museum culture and the politics of subsidy’, 55.[10] Franklin, ‘Between the wars: traditions, modernisms’, pp. 196–197.

[11] Butler, ‘Innovation and the avant-garde, 1900–20’, pp. 69–70.

[12] Arnold Whittall, Musical Composition in the Twentieth Century, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999, pp. 30–32 and 59–64; Alex Ross, The Rest is Noise. Listening to the Twentieth Century, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007, pp. 157–177.

[13] Richard Taruskin, ‘The poietic fallacy’, in The Musical Times, Vol. 145, No. 1886 (Spring, 2004), p. 10.

[14] Eduard Hanslick, On the Musically Beautiful, trans. Geoffrey Payzant, Indianapolis: Hackett, 1986, p. 45.

[15] ‘Das Schöne ist und bleibt schön, auch wenn es keine Gefühle erzeugt, ja wenn es weder geschaut noch betrachtet wird; also zwar nur für das Wohlgefallen eines anschauenden Subjekts, aber nicht durch dasselbe.’ Eduard Hanslick, Vom Musikalisch-Schönen, Historisch-kritische Ausgabe (ed. Dietmar Strauß), Mainz: B. Schott’s Söhne, 1990, p. 26. The latter part of this sentence lacks from the English translation; see On the Musically Beautiful, p. 3.

[16] Taruskin, ‘The poietic fallacy’, pp. 11–12.

[17] Bartók’s activities as a pianist and a composer who made recordings of folk music are, in fact, mentioned in the articles of Leon Botstein and Andrew Blake (see footnote 4), but Taruskin is nonetheless right; they would have deserved more attention.

[18] Taruskin, ‘Why’, pp. 268–269.

[19] Ibid., p. 273.

[20] See Béla Bartók Letters (ed. János Demény), London: Faber and Faber, 1971, p. 274.

[21] Ibid., p. 266.

[22] In his book Music in the Third Reich (Houndmills and London: Macmillan Press, 1994, p. 101), Erik Levi writes: ‘According to the Swiss musicologist Willy Reich, Bartók wrote an official letter of protest to the Propaganda Ministry when he discovered that his portrait had not been displayed at the Entartete Musik Exhibition.’ Unfortunately, the source is not given, and there is no such letter in Béla Bartók Letters, ed. János Demény. London: Faber & Faber, 1971.

[23] Taruskin, ‘Why’, p. 273.

[24] Ibid., p. 269.

[25] Lydia Goehr, ‘Writing Music History’, in History and Theory, Vol. 31 No. 2 (1992), p. 185.

[26] In August 1939 Bartók was in Saanen, Switzerland, working on this Sixth Quartet when news of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact reached him. Tibor Tallián (Béla Bartók. Sein Leben und Werk, Budapest: Corvina, 1988, p. 241) called the work ‘Requiem for Europe and his mother’ (Bartók’s mother died on 19th December 1939).

[27] See Erik Tawaststjerna, Sibelius, Vol. 1, trans. R. Layton, London: Faber & Faber, 1976, p. 244.

[28] Johann Nicolaus Forkel, Allgemeine Geschichte der Musik I–II, Leipzig: im Schwickertschen Verlage, 1788–1801; http://num-scd-ulp.u-strasbg.fr:8080/664/ and http://num-scd-ulp.u-strasbg.fr:8080/674/; Franz Brendel, Geschichte der Musik in Italien, Deutschland und Frankreich von den ersten christlichen Zeiten an bis auf die Gegenwart, Leipzig: B. Hinze, 1852; Theodor W. Adorno, Philosophy of New Music, trans. R. Hullot-Kentor. Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, 2006 [1949]; Hans Heinrich Eggebrecht, Musik im Abendland. Prozesse und Stationen vom Mittelalter bis zur Gegenwart, München 1998 [1991]; Hermann Danuser, Die Musik des 20. Jahrhunderts (Neues Handbuch der Musikwissenschaft 7). Laaber: Laaber Verlag, Sonderausgabe 1989. Cf. Vladimir Karbusicky, Wie deutsch ist das Abendland. Geschichtliches Sendungsbewusstsein im Spiegel der Musik, Hamburg: von Bockel Verlag, 1995; Ilkka Oramo, ‘Zur Rezeption der Musik von Jean Sibelius (1876–1957) in der deutschen Fachliteratur seit 1945’, in Zur Neuorientierung der finnisch-deutschen Kulturbeziehungen nach 1945 (5. Snellman-Seminar), Helsinki: AUE-Stiftung, 2000, pp. 119–128; ‘Sibelius as a Problem of Musical Historiography’, in Sibelius Forum II. Proceedings from the Third International Jean Sibelius Conference Helsinki December 7–10, 2000 (ed. Matti Huttunen, Kari Kilpeläinen and Veijo Murtomäki), Helsinki: Sibelius Academy. Department of Composition and Music Theory, 2003, pp. 69–80.

[29] Taruskin, ‘Why’, p. 270.

[30] Ibid.

[31] Bernd Sponheuer, ‘Reconstructing Ideal Types of the “German” in music’, in Music and German National Identity (ed. Cecilia Applegate and Pamela Potter), Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 2002, p. 40.

[32] Cf. Adorno, Philosophy of New Music, p. 176, footnote 4.

[33] Arnold Schoenberg, ‘Folkloristic Symphonies’, [1947] in Style and Idea (ed. Leonard Stein), Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1975, p. 161.

[34] Theodor W. Adorno, ‘Das Altern der Neuen Musik’, [1954] in Gesammelte Schriften 14 (ed. Rolf Tiedemann), Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1998, pp. 146–147.

[35] René Leibowitz, ‘Béla Bartók ou la possibilité du compromis dans la musique moderne’, in Les Temps Modernes, October 1947, pp. 705–734.

[36] Adorno, Philosophy of New Music, pp. 32–33. In German: ‘Hält ein Zeitgenosse ganz und gar mit den tonalen Klängen haus, wie Sibelius, so tönen sie ebenso falsch wie als Enklaven in atonalem Gebiet.’ Theodor W. Adorno, Philosophie der neuen Musik. Frankfurt am Main: Europäische Verlagsanstalt, 1958, p. 39.

[37] See Tomi Mäkelä, ‘Sibelius and Germany: Wahrhaftigkeit beyond Allnatur’, in The Cambridge Companion to Sibelius (ed. Daniel M. Grimley), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004, pp. 169– 181.

[38] Leibowitz did not write an essay on Sibelius, but in 1955, to ‘honour’ the composer’s 90th birthday, he published a pamphlet entitled Sibelius, le plus mauvais compositeur du monde (Liège: Aux Éditions Dynamo. P. Aelberts, éditeur) that is essentially a paraphrase of Adorno’s ‘Glosse’. See Ilkka Oramo, ‘Sibelius, le plus mauvais compositeur du monde’, in Boréales No. 54/57, 1993, pp. 51–58.

[39] See Danielle Fosler-Lussier, Music Divided. Bartók’s Legacy in Cold War Culture, Berkeley–Los Angeles–London: University of California Press, 2007, especially pp. 28–50.

[40] Taruskin, Music in the Early Twentieth Century, pp. 365–421.[41] Ibid., p. 643.
[42] Ibid., p. 647.

[43] See Nicolas Slonimsky, Lexicon of Musical Invective, New York and London: W.W. Norton & Company, 2000 [1953], p. 179. Thomson’s review was published in the New York Herald Tribune, 11th October 1940.

[44] ’Während etwa die Englische Symphonik Edward Elgars und Ralph Vaughan Williams’ oder die finnische Jean Sibelius’, die, fern von den Zentren der Traditionsumwandlunmgen um 1910 entstanden, weiterhin auf die Tragfähigkeit großer tonaler Formen bauten und darum ihrer teils nationalen, teils internationalen Beliebheit zum Trotz zur Epigonalität verurteilt waren, brachte Mahlers Spätwerk nicht nur mit dem Fin de siècle eine große Epoche, das musikalische 19. Jahrhundert, zum Abschluß; […]’ Hermann Danuser, Die Musik des 20. Jahrhunderts (Neues Handbuch der Musikwissenschaft 7), Sonderausgabe, Laaber: Laaber-Verlag, 1996 [1985], p. 16.

[45] Taruskin, Music in the Late Twentieth Century, p. 429.

[46] Richard Taruskin, Music in the Nineteenth Century (The Oxford History of Western Music, vol. 3), Oxford: Oxford University Press, 5-vol. set, 2010, pp. 821–824.

[47] Carl Dahlhaus, Nineteenth-Century Music, trans. J. Bradford Robinson, Berkeley–Los Angeles– London: University of California Press, 1989, p. 1.

[48] Ibid., p. 368.

[49] James Hepokoski, Sibelius. Symphony No. 5. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993, p. 2.

[50] Taruskin, Music in the Nineteenth Century, pp. 821–823.

[51] See for instance Julian Anderson, ‘Sibelius and contemporary music’, in The Cambridge Companion to Sibelius, pp. 196–216.[52] Taruskin, ‘Why’, p. 265.

[53] See for instance Lionel Pike, Beethoven, Sibelius and ’the Profound Logic’. Studies in Symphonic Analysis, London 1978; I. Oramo, ‘Vom Einfluß der Bauernmusik auf die Kunstmusik. Ein unbekannter Aufsatz von Sibelius aus dem Jahre 1896,’ in Bericht über den internationalen musikwissenschaftlichen Kongreß Bayreuth 1981, ed. C.-H. Mahling & S. Wiesmann, Kassel 1984, 440–444; Timothy B. Howell, Jean Sibelius, Progressive Techniques in the Symphonies and Tone-Poems, New York 1989; V. Murtomäki, Symphonic Unity. The development of formal thinking in the symphonies of Sibelius, Helsinki 1993; Sibelius Forum. Proceedings from The First International Jean Sibelius Conference Helsinki, August 1990, ed. E. Tarasti, Helsinki 1995; The Sibelius Companion, ed. G. D. Goss, Westport, Connecticut, and London 1996; Sibelius Forum II. Proceedings from The Second International Jean Sibelius Conference Helsinki November 25–29, 1995, ed. V. Murtomäki & al., Helsinki 1998; Glenda Dawn Goss, Jean Sibelius. A Guide to Research. New York & London 1998; Sibelius Studies, ed. T. L. Jackson and V. Murtomäki, Cambridge 2001.

[54] Taruskin, ‘The poietic fallacy’, p. 7.


About Ilkka Oramo

Professor of Music Theory, emeritus
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