Review:Western Sufism: From the Abbasids to the New Ageby Mark Sedgwick

Phillip Charles Lucas
2018 Nova Religio  
The three categories of the Gurdjieff/de Hartmann piano music (Asian and eastern folk music, Sayyid and Dervish music, and hymns) are laid out in detail, in both their musical structure and their utility for advancing the aims of self-understanding through esoteric practice. According to Gurdjieff, the deliberation of music, in many formsincluding composition, structural analysis, performance, listening, and sensing the effects of music on one's personal state-can serve the functions of
more » ... unctions of self-study and inquiry into attention. Petsche explores these processes and their possible benefits. The final two chapters address Gurdjieff's cosmology, his views on art, and possible reasons for creating piano music as an essential element in his esoteric teaching. As part of this consideration, Petsche considers two debates in detail: to wit, the provenance of the rhythmic themes and melodies, which Gurdjieff attributed to his recollection of sacred performances encountered throughout his travels; and the possible goals that compelled Gurdjieff to proffer musical compositions for contemporary and later generations. Outlining these debates and their various alternatives, Petsche acknowledges the gaps in documentation and employs deduction when evidence is sketchy. She meets each issue with critical analysis accompanied by suggestions of misconceptions, mistaken interpretations, and possible corrections. Assumptions and conjecture are well identified, so that the reader understands the distinction between what is known and what might be logically surmised. In addition to analysis, insight and conjecture, useful references include: a chronological inventory of the 168 piano compositions published by Schott; a history of discovery and publication of musical manuscripts; a listing of publicly available sheet music and recordings, cited by edition and publisher; and descriptions of other musical compositions created by Gurdjieff and de Hartmann, which include music composed for Movements, Gurdjieff's ballet The Struggle of the Magicians, and Gurdjieff's improvised music on harmonium.
doi:10.1525/nr.2018.21.4.110 fatcat:jofnrne4l5ddxfywdvzmyhxdpa