Monday, December 8, 2014

Ferrucio Busoni


Sketch of a new esthetic of music
by Ferruccio Busoni ; translated from the German by Th. Baker.

Published by G. Schirmer in New York .
Written in English.

The creator should take over no traditional law in blind belief, which would make him view his own creative endeavor, from the outset, as an exception contrasting with that law. For his individual case he should seek out and formulate a fitting individual law, which, after the first complete realization, he should annul, that he himself may not be drawn into repetitions when his next work shall be in the making.
The function of the creative artist consists in making laws, not in following laws ready made. He who follows such laws, ceases to be a creator.
Creative power may be the more readily recognized, the more it shakes itself loose from tradition. But an intentional avoidance of the rules cannot masquerade as creative power, and still less engender it.
The true creator strives, in reality, after perfection only. And through bringing this into harmony with his own individuality, a new law arises without premeditation.

“Feeling” is generally understood to mean tenderness, pathos, and extravagance, of expression. But how much more does the marvelous flower “Emotion” enfold! Restraint and forbearance, renunciation, power, activity, patience, magnanimity, joyousness, and that all-controlling intelligence wherein feeling actually takes its rise.
It is not otherwise in Art, which holds the mirror up to Life; and still more outspokenly in Music, which repeats the emotions of Life—though for this, as I have said, taste and style must be added; Style, which distinguishes Art from Life.
What the amateur and the mediocre artist attempt to express, is feeling in little, in detail, for a short stretch.

Feeling on a grand scale is mistaken by the amateur, the semi-artist, the public (and the critics too, unhappily!), for a want of emotion, because they all are unable to hear the longer reaches as parts of a yet more extended whole. Feeling, therefore, is likewise economy.
Hence, I distinguish feeling as Taste, as Style, as Economy. Each a whole in itself, and each one-third of the Whole. Within and over them rules a subjective trinity: Temperament, Intelligence, and the instinct of Equipoise.
These six carry on a dance of such subtility in the choice of partners and intertwining of figures, in the bearing and the being borne, in advancing and curtesying, in motion and repose, that no loftier height of artistry is conceivable.
When the chords of the two triads are in perfect tune, Fantasy may—nay, must—associate with Feeling; supported by the Six, she will not degenerate, and out of this combination of all the elements arises Individuality. The individuality catches, like a lens, the light-impressions, reflects them, according to its nature, as a negative, and the hearer perceives the true picture.

Musical art is like a child that has learned to walk, but still has to be led. It is a virgin art that has not yet experienced life or suffered. It has no sense of how to array itself, no awareness of its advantages, its unawakened capacities. At the same time, it is a wunderkind that is already able to create beautiful things and bring joy to many, and on account of this, it is generally assumed to be fully formed. Music as an art, our so-called Western music, is barely four hundred years old. It is in a state of development – perhaps even at the very first stage of an infinitely long development – and yet still we talk about ‘classics and ‘hallowed traditions’!

We have formulated rules, defined principles, laid down laws – laws conceived for an adult, but applied to a child that does not yet know the meaning of responsibility. Young as this child is, it already possesses one radiant quality that distinguishes it from its older sisters. The law-makers are reluctant to recognise this wonderful attribute, as it overturns all their rules. This child – it floats on air! Its feet do not touch the ground. It knows no law of gravitation. It is practically incorporeal. Its material is transparent. It is sonorous air. It is almost Nature itself. It is free.
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