Music as the means to an end : an inquiry into the musical content of the works of Georg Philipp Harsdörffer

Elizabeth Ann Spence
The prime purpose of this inquiry is to determine the extent and significance of the treatment of music in the literary and scholarly works of the German writer, Georg Philipp Harsdorffer (1607-1658). At the same time, his references to music are also used as a means of establishing the importance of a non-literary medium for a seventeenth-century writer, and to illustrate Harsdorffer's place in the intellectual life of his times. At the outset, the lack of strict dividing lines between the
more » ... of music and poetry, and between the arts and the sciences in the seventeenth-century is stressed, as is Harsdorffer's own view of the close relationship of all the arts and other fields of knowledge. The seventeenth-century tripartite classification of music, Musica Theoretica, Musica Practica and Musica Poetica, is used as an organizing principle to allow his statements on music to be assessed in their contemporary context. The first chapter, Musica Theoretica, dealing with music as a subject for philosophical speculation, demonstrates Harsdorffer's wide knowledge in this area and his eclectic use of sources. The second chapter, Musica Practica, concerned with music as a science and a practical art, provides information on instruments and technical musical terminology of the seventeenth-century, and shows Harsdorffer's familiarity with these. It is emphasised that his clear presentation of material here is aimed at the practical needs of readers wishing to partake in musical activities. Much of the information provided in the first two chapters is applied in the third chapter, Musica Poetica, which deals with the relationship of music and poetry. An examination of selected poems and songs shows the arts to have formal features in common. Harsdorffer's close collaboration with the composer Sigmund Staden is also established by the analysis of an extract from their opera, Seelewig, and a new source for this work is investigated for the first time. The variety of material in all three chapters is finally put into the [...]
doi:10.14288/1.0095913 fatcat:wyibwm67vreidjxjqtqs6otyey