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Nietzsche's OrphansMusic, Metaphysics, and the Twilight of the Russian Empire$
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Rebecca Mitchell

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780300208894

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300208894.001.0001

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Musical Metaphysics in Late Imperial Russia

Musical Metaphysics in Late Imperial Russia

(p.25) 1 Musical Metaphysics in Late Imperial Russia
Nietzsche's Orphans

Rebecca Mitchell

Yale University Press

This chapter examines the philosophical sources and evolution of musical metaphysics in late imperial Russia. Derived from a combination of the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche, Arthur Schopenhauer and Vladimir Solov’ev, this was an eclectic clash of ideas that evinced two fundamental components: music was seen as the ultimate form of unity; and it was believed to possess a theurgic power that could alter contemporary society. These assumptions gave rise to three basic beliefs that defined musical metaphysics: music could create social, cultural or political unity in response to the divisions of modernity; the experience of music offered a means of transcending linear temporality (musical time) through the experience of a “mystery”; and these powers of music were to be embodied in the music of a contemporary Russian “Orpheus”. The chapter concludes with an assessment of musical metaphysics’ shortcomings, embodied in the failure of Nietzsche’s orphans to bridge the social chasm between themselves and the common people (narod).

Keywords:   theurgy, musical time, musical metaphysics, mystery, unity, Orpheus, Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Solov’ev, narod

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