Eckermann reports a conversation with Goethe on January 29, 1827:

Es kam sodann zur Sprache, welchen Titel man der Novelle geben sollte; wir taten manche Vorschlaege, einige waren gut fuer den Anfang, andere gut fuer das Ende, doch fand sich keiner, der fuer das Ganze passend und also der rechte gewesen waere. "Wissen Sie was", sagte Goethe, "wir wollen es die Novelle nennen; denn was ist eine Novelle anders als eine sich ereignete unerhoerte Begebenheit. Dies ist der eigentliche Begriff, und so vieles, was in Deutschland unter dem Titel Novelle geht, ist gar keine Novelle, sondern bloss Erzaehlung oder was Sie sonst wollen. In jenem urspruenglichen Sinne einer unerhoerten Begebenheit kommt auch die Novelle in den Wahlverwandtschaften vor."

This is the epilogue, as it were, to a lengthy conversation on January 15, 1827, in which Goethe interprets his own Novelle. Here an excerpt, a highly condensed analysis:

Zu zeigen, wie das Unbaendige, Unueberwindliche oft besser durch Liebe und Froemmigkeit als durch Gewalt bezwungen werde, war die Aufgabe dieser Novelle, und dieses schoene Ziel, welches sich im Kinde und Loewen darstellt, reizte mich zur Ausfuehrung. Dies ist das Ideelle, dies die Blume. Und das gruene Blaetterwerk der durchaus realen Exposition ist nur dieserwegen da und nur dieserwegen etwas wert.

But there is more. The story's agenda is conservative in the best sense. Biedermeier, if you wish; solid, sober, unpretentious, yet never naive or unpolitical. Protecting lives and property. Encouraging commerce and economic development. Preserving the monuments of the past. Responsible and responsive administration, with an occasional day off to go hunting. Overlooking nothing, leaving nothing to chance. A fire brigade is in place, literally and metaphorically, to meet the unexpected. The real Weimar had one of course, and Goethe, a relentless organizer and coach of many such units across the duchy, himself was active in it as he had been as a youth in his home town of Frankfurt.
The realism of the setting to which Goethe refers is not, however, "an objective depiction of contemporary social reality" (Wellek). It is a utopian vision, a post-revolutionary as well as post-napoleonic political scene, a restored equilibrium with idealized relationships among all, including those between government and the governed. A moment of rest and recovery, an idyllic pause between violent upheavals. Metternich with his teeth pulled. Consent and consensus, mutual respect, a common commitment to service. It does not exist except as an ardent dream of what might be. "Du sitzt am Fenster und ertraeumst sie dir" is Kafka's formula for it. "Im Vorgefuehl von solchem hohen Glueck" is Faust's. If it did exist, it wouldn't last. Kleist, in his Erdbeben (1808), depicts such a seductive and deceptive reality between two catastrophes.


And more. The musical ending recalls the fascination with "music as metaphor", "the power of music", among recent and contemporary poets from Pope and Dryden and Collins to E.T.A. Hoffmann and Kleist and, of course to Goethe himself. Music saves Faust's life on Easter morning at the end of a dreadful night, and we'll encounter a similar role of music in his Trilogie der Leidenschaft which we'll read in this context.

"Musick a remedy" is a chapter in Robert Burton's (1577-1640) Anatomy of Melancholy.

Here, once again, the stanza from John Dryden's A Song for St. Cecilia's Day, 1687, that I've quoted at you in every course:

        What passion cannot Music raise and quell!
        When Jubal struck the corded shell,
        His list'ning brethren stood around,
        And, wond'ring, on their faces fell
        To worship that celestial sound:
        Less than a god they thought there could not dwell
        Within the hollow of that shell,
        That spoke so sweetly and so well.
        What passion cannot Music raise and quell! *** (see below)


        Thus long ago,
        Ere heaving bellows learn'd to blow,
        While organs were yet mute;
        Timotheus, to his breathing flute,
        And sounding lyre,
        Could swell the soul to rage,
        or kindle soft desire.
        At last, divine Cecilia came,
        Inventress of the vocal frame:
        Let old Timotheus yield the prize,
        Or both divide the crown:
        He rais'd a mortal to the skies;
        She drew an angel down.

From John Dryden. Alexander's Feast Or, The Power of Music; An Ode in Honour of St Cecilia's Day: 1697

        Of Orpheus now no more let poets tell,
       To bright Cecilia greater power is given:
        His numbers raised a shade from hell,
        Hers lift the soul to heaven.

From Alexander Pope.  Ode on St Cecilia's Day, 1708

And more still. Remember The Magic Flute? Mozart's last opera, first performed on September 30, 1791, only two months before his death on December 5. The boy and his flute of the Novelle belong in this context. Tamino, like Orpheus before him, tames the wild beasts with his music. And as he is about to undergo the final "test", that of fire and water, the two most destructive of the ancient four elements (air and earth are the other two), Pamina joins him and hands him the magic flute:

        Spiel du die Zauberfloete an
        Sie schuetze uns auf unsrer Bahn.
        Es schnitt in einer Zauberstunde
        Mein Vater sie aus tiefstem Grunde
        Der tausendjaehr'gen Eiche aus,
        Bei Blitz und Donner, Sturm und Braus.
        Nun komm und spiel die Floete an,
        Sie leite uns auf grauser Bahn.
        (II, 28).

The music that now follows, solo flute accompanied by only a few instruments and percussion, accomplishes a paradox, a depiction of stillness by means of sound. The two remain unharmed, protected by their love, their courage, and the magic flute.

The Three Ladies were even more specific in their description of the flute's power that recalls the lines of Dryden quoted above:

        Die Zauberfloete wird dich schuetzen,
        Im groessten Unglueck unterstuetzen.

        Hiermit kannst du allmaechtig handeln,
        Der Menschen Leidenschaft verwandeln.
        Der Traurige wird freudig sein,
        Den Hagestolz nimmt Liebe ein.
        (I, 8).

Here's the Novelle's first description of the boy's music: "Das Kind verfolgte seine Melodie, die keine war, eine Tonfolge ohne Gesetz, und vielleicht ebendeswegen so herzergreifend; ... Alles war still, hoerte, horchte, und nur erst als die Toene verhallten, konnte man den Eindruck bemerken und allenfalls beobachten. Alles war wie beschwichtigt; jeder in seiner Art geruehrt. ... Eine vollkommene Stille beherrschte die Menge, man schien die Gefahren vergessen zu haben ..."

Goethe, after seeing the opera in Weimar in 1795, attempted a sequel, The Magic Flute, Part II, but never completed it. It probably made little sense to him in the end, with Mozart no longer available to compose the music.
He returns to the topic now in a different setting. Thirty years after first contemplating it in epic form with Die Jagd as its tentative title, and nearly four decades after Mozart's death. A final respectful, albeit unconscious, tribute to a colleague of equal stature? You decide. "Mozart haette den Faust komponieren muessen," he tells Eckermann on February 12, 1829.

Sir James Jeans, Science & Music, first published in 1937, is still considered a classic. So are a few even even older texts:

J.W.S. Rayleigh, The Theory of Sound. (2. vols.)
Hermann Helmholtz, On the Sensations of Tone.
John Tyndall, Sound.
Fabre D'Olivet, La Musique. (Of particular importance in connection with Rilke's view of music)

A more recent book is by Robert Jourdain: Music, the Brain, and Ecstacy. 1997.
See the review in Scientific American, September 1997, 97f.

Thomas Connolly, Mourning into Joy. Music, Raphael, and Saint Cecilia. Yale Press 1994
Harry F. Olson, Music, Physics and Engineering.
Gretchen Ludke Finney, "Harmony or Rapture in Music," Dictionary of the History of Ideas, vol. II.
Leo Spitzer, Classical and Christian Ideas of World Harmony (1963).
Myles W. Jackson, Harmonious Triads. Physicists, Musicians, and Instrument Makers in Nineteenth-Century Germany. MIT Press 2006/2008.

The February 2004 issue of Scientific American has a special report called "Four Keys to Cosmology," with the first essay intitled "The Cosmic Symphony", about the nature and function of sound waves in the early universe.  Here's a tantalizing bit of what you'll encounter:  "Gradually the universe imposed order on itself. The familiar particles of matter, such as electrons and protons, condensed out of the radiation like water droplets in a cloud of steam. Sound waves coursed through the amorphous mix, giving it shape. Matter steadily wrested control of the cosmos away from radiation. Several hundred thousand years after inflation, matter declared final victory and cut itself loose from radiation." From the introduction by George Musser, p. 43.
The August 21 04 issue of Science News has an essay on "Cosmic Melody. Tuning in to the early universe" that describes a recent CD that reflects "what [Mark Whittle of the U of Virginia] suspect the universe sounded like immediately following the Big Bang ...".

Science News occasionally runs pieces on the physics of sound. See "Musical Metal" (steel drums) in the October 10, 1998 issue. Taking them apart, metaphorically, to see "what makes them tick."
An earlier deconstructionist, Rat Krespel in E.T.A. Hoffmann's story by the same title, literally takes his violins apart to discover the engineering principle governing extraordinary sound. He doesn't find what he is looking for, and his priceless Stradivari and Amati are destroyed in the process. He does, however, discover that his daughter's sublime singing voice is based, not on perfect engineering, but on an anatomical defect. He never makes the connection, but the reader cannot overlook it.
Also in Science News: "Good Vibrations" (about woodwind reeds, 12-14-91), "To Build a Better Violin" (9-3-94), "Beating a Fractal Drum" (9-17-94) and "Tots Take Rhythmic Stock Before Talk" (9-24-94).

*** Settembrini, in Thomas Manns' Zauberberg, comments on this very aspect of music, her dual nature:

"Die Musik ist unschätzbar als letztes Begeisterungsmittel, als aufwärts- und vorwärtsreissende Macht, . . . Die Kunst ist sittlich, sofern sie weckt. Aber wie, wenn sie das Gegenteil tut? Wenn sie betäubt, einschläfert, der Aktivität und dem Fortschritt entgegenarbeitet?  Auch das kann die Musik, auch auf die Wirkung der Opiate versteht sie sich aus dem Grunde . . . . Das Opiat ist vom Teufel, denn es schafft Dumpfsinn, Beharrung, Untätigkeit, knechtischen Stillstand."
"Es ist etwas Bedenkliches um die Musik", says Settembrini in conclusion, "Ich bleibe dabei, dass sie zweideutigen Wesens ist. Ich gehe nicht zu weit, wenn ich sie für politisch verdächtig erkläre."
(Thomas Mann, Der Zauberberg (Berlin und Frankfurt a/M., 1956), S. 104 f.)

The most precise statement, rivaling that of John Dryden, is found in Thomas Mann's Dr. Faustus:   "Weisst du, was ich finde?" says Adrian Leverkühn.  "Dass Musik die Zweideutigkeit ist als System."
(Thomas Mann, Doktor Faustus (Berlin und Frankfurt a/M, 1949), S. 77)

Rilke's summary of Fabre d'Olivet's treatment of music (La Musique, 1896) in a letter to the Princess von Thurn und Taxis, dated November 17, 1912: (consult also my short essay on Rilke's use of music as metaphor)

"Was er von der Musik sagt, ihrer Rolle bei den alten Völkern, mag auch im Recht sein, - dass das Stumme in der Musik, wie soll ich sagen, ihre mathematische Rückseite, das durchaus lebensordnende Element z.B. noch im chinesischen Reiche war, wo der für das ganze Kaisertum angenommene Grundton (dem Fa entsprechend) die Grossheit eines obersten Gesetzes hatte, sosehr, dass das Rohr, das diesen Ton erzeugte, als Maasseinheit, seine Fassungsmenge als Raumeinheit u.s.w. ausgegeben wurde und von Herrschaft zu Herrschaft in Geltung blieb.  Musik war jedenfalls in allen alten Reichen etwas namenlos Verantwortliches und sehr Konservatives."

". . . hier ist die Stelle, wo manches zu erfahren wäre, was mit meinem Gefühl, Musik gegenüber, zu tun hat, ich meine, diesem äusserst unberechtigten rudimentären Gefühl eine Art nachträglichen Stammbaums lieferte: dass diese wahrhaftige, ja diese einzige Verführung, die die Musik ist, (nichts ver-führt doch sonst im Grunde) nur so erlaubt sein darf, dass sie zur Gesetzmässigkeit verführe, zum Gesetz selbst.  Denn in ihr allein tritt der unerhörte Fall ein, dass das Gesetz, das doch sonst immer befiehlt, flehentlich wird, offen, unendlich unser bedürftig.  Hinter diesem Vor-wand von Tönen nähert sich das All, auf der einen Seite sind wir, auf der andern, durch nichts von uns abgetrennt, als durch ein bischen gerührte Luft, aufgeregt durch uns, zittert die Neigung der Sterne."

Had he read Schopenhauer he would have been struck by this statement from the third book of his Welt als Wille und Vorstellung:

"...gesetzt es gelaenge eine vollkommen richtige, vollstaendige und in das Einzelne gehende Erklaerung der Musik, also eine ausfuehrliche Wiederholung dessen was sie ausdrueckt in Begriffen zu geben, diese sofort auch eine genuegende Wiederholung und Erklaerung der Welt in Begriffen, oder einer solchen ganz gleichlautend, also die wahre Philosophie sein wuerde ..."

"Da nun aber ... die Musik ... bloss aeusserlich und rein empirisch betrachtet, nichts Anderes ist, als das Mittel, groessere Zahlen und zusammengesetztere Zahlenverhaeltnisse, die wir sonst nur mittelbar, durch Auffassung in Begriffen, erkennen koennen, unmittelbar und in concreto aufzufassen; so koennen wir nun durch Vereinigung jener beiden so verschiedenen und doch richtigen Ansichten der Musik, uns einen Begriff von der Moeglichkeit einer Zahlenphilosophie machen, dergleichen die des Pythagoras und auch die der Chinesen im Y=king war ..."

(Schopenhauer, Die Welt alsWille und Vorstellung III Saemtliche Werke, ed Huebscher, Leipzig 1938, 2. Band, p. 312, 313)

Remember that God himself is bilingual in both universal languages, music and math.

Mary (Frankenstein) Shelley's monster senses the communicative nature of music before he discovers the meaning of language (II,3).

Death is the Fiddler, and music his means of communicating the final event. Richard II, "Sweet music do I hear..." Keep your ears open when reading Th. Mann's Death in Venice, Hofmannsthal's Death and the Fool, Kafka's Metamorphosis where the sister plays the violin ...

Making music is a metaphor for lovemaking in Hoffmann's Rat Krespel who "sees" it in his dream in which he is tuned into his daughter Antonia's erotic dream embracing her fiancé. He finds her dead the next morning. Jaques Offenbach's treatment in his Tales of Hoffmann is much less daring but quite dramatic still.

Orpheus and Odysseus escape the Sirens, the children of Hameln in the German folk tale and in Browning's Pied Piper of Hamelin follow the music and are not seen again.

David soothes the raging Saul with music, and Kleist's Die Hl Caecilie oder Die Gewalt der Musik tells the story of how a group of would-be iconoclats is paralyzed.
The trumpets of Jericho bring down the walls. They have found the resonant frequency. So has the Tin Drum's Oskar Mazerath who brings down church windows and cuts holes in display cases.
Fontane's ballad Die Brueck am Tay depicts the collapse of a bridge in a violent storm as a train is crossing it -- he however borrows Macbeth's witches to do the dirty work.

The trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised (Handel's Messiah)

Troesterin Musik, musica consolatrix. Listen to Monteverdi's and Gluck's operas treating the legend of Orpheus and Euridice. Read Rilke's Sonnets to Orpheus.

There's much more ... Please stay tuned