Mozart and the Philosophers

  • Alfred Schutz
Part of the Phaenomenologica book series (PHAE, volume 15)


Some thirty years ago an outstanding German writer, Friedrich Gundolf; published a book entitled Caesar: The History of his Glory. He showed that each century, and even each generation, has formed a different image of the person and character of Julius Caesar, and has interpreted his influence on the destiny of occidental culture in a different way. Not two thousand but hardly two hundred years separate us from Mozart’s lifetime, and nevertheless a history of his glory would offer a fascinating topic for an essay in the philosophy of history. But I have to forego the temptation to demonstrate how each generation has had to rediscover the man Mozart and his work and to reinterpret his position within the main stream of music. My purpose is to examine in a very condensed form the images that three modern philosophers — Hermann Cohen, Søren Kierkegaard, and Wilhelm Dilthey — have formed of Mozart and his art; and these images, as will be shown, are restricted to Mozart’s operas. I shall preface that discussion with a few remarks on the relationship between philosophy and music in general, and shall refer briefly to certain views held by the philosophers of the eighteenth century with respect to the operatic art; and I shall close with a consideration of the purely musical means by which Mozart solved the problems of the philosophers in his own way, thereby proving himself to be the greatest philosopher of them all.


Human World Musical Drama Indirect Communication Musical Form Dramatic Action 
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  1. 1.
    Schopenhauer, Philosophische Aphorismen, Aus dem handschriftlichen Nachlass gesammelt von Otto Weiss, Leipzig, 1924, p. 196.Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    See Edward Dent, Mozart’s Operas, Oxford, 1942Google Scholar
  3. 7.
    Arthur Schurig, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, 2 Vols., Leipzig, 1916.Google Scholar
  4. 11.
    Wilhelm Dilthey, Von deutscher Dichtung und Musik: Aus den Studien zur Geschichte des deutschen Geistes, ed. by Herman Nohl and Georg Misch, Leipzig, 1933, pp. 275–95.Google Scholar
  5. 13.
    J. Huizinga, Homo ludens, New York, 1950, pp. 2, 28.Google Scholar
  6. 14.
    D. J. Grout, “Opera, VIII,” in W. Apelt, Harvard Dictionary of Music, Cambridge, Mass., 1947, p. 510.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, Netherlands 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alfred Schutz

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