Johann Matthesons und Lorenz Christoph Mizlers Konzeptionen musikalischer Wissenschaft. De eruditione musica (1732) und Dissertatio quod musica scienta sit et pars eruditionis philosophicae (1734/1736) mit Übersetzungen und Kommentaren
In der deutschen Frühaufklärung stellte sich das Problem der Verortung musikalischen Wissens im Kontext gelehrten Wissens in neuer Weise. An welchen Wissensformen Musik teilhaben sollte, um nicht an festgefügten Orten in einer traditionellen Topik zu versteinern sondern auch an neuen Formen der Wissensproduktion teilhaben zu können, wurde in unterschiedlicher Weise beantwortet. Zwei profilierte Antworten werden hier mit der Edition zweier programmatischer Schriften des Hamburger Musikgelehrten Johann Mattheson (De eruditione musica, 1732) und der Leipziger Philosophiestudenten und Bachschülers Lorenz Christoph Mizler (Dissertatio 1734) vorgestellt. Während Matthesons breit angelegtes Musik-Konzept auf der Idee der Selbstbildung und einem Methoden-Eklektizismus nach dem Vorbild von Christian Thomasius gründet, zielt Mizlers Entwurf auf die disziplinäre Etablierung eines universitären Faches im Rahmen einer auf mathematischen Erkenntnisgewinn abgestellten Philosophie, wie sie Christian Wolff vertrat. Überraschenderweise aber steht Mizler in dieser Schrift aber einer Spielart des Sensualismus weit näher, als von einem Wolffianer zu vermuten wäre. Im Schnittfeld der beiden konträr angelegten Entwürfe eröffnet sich eine Vielfalt der Problemstellung von Musik als Wissensfeld, die für das gesamte 18. Jahrhundert bedeutsam bleibt.
structura & experientia musicae [Vol. 2]
Karsten Mackensen und Oliver Wiener (Hrsg.)
Johann Matthesons und Lorenz Christoph Mizlers Konzeptionen musikalischer Wissenschaft
De eruditione musica (1732) und Dissertatio quod musica scientia sit et pars eruditionis philosophicae (1734/1736)
Karsten Mackensen: Mattheson und der Begriff einer musikalischen Gelehrsamkeit
Oliver Wiener: Mizlers Konzeption der Eruditio musica als Wissenschaft
Johann Mattheson: De eruditione musica – Von der Musicalischen Gelehrsamkeit
Lorenz Christoph Mizler: Dissertatio quod Musica Scientia sit et Pars Eruditionis Philosophicae
I Anonym, [Ankündigung von Matthesons Schrift De eruditione musica], in: Niedersächsische Nachrichten von gelehrten neuen Sachen (1732)
II Lorenz Christoph Mizler, [Besprechung von Matthesons Schrift De eruditione musica], in: Musikalische Bibliothek (1737)
III [Lorenz Christoph Mizler], [Auszug von Mizlers Dissertatio], in: Gründliche Auszüge aus den Neuesten Theologisch-Philosophischen und Philologischen Disputationibus (1738)
IV M*** [Johann Mattheson], Von der Music, in: Braunschweigische Anzeigen (1745)
Mattheson and the Concept of Musical Erudition
De eruditione musica, printed in 1732 in the publishing house of Felginer’s widow in Hamburg, is Johann Mattheson’s only monograph written entirely in Latin. It is also the only one that reached a second edition. Occasion and place of this second edition reveal that Mattheson understood this text to be part of a major controversy concerning the moral, political, and scientific status, function and aim of music. It was printed as an attachment to the author’s Philologisches Tresespiel (1752), a polemic mainly directed at Johann Christoph Gottsched, one of Mattheson’s most important antagonists and a key representative of the Leipzig-based school of Wolffian philosophy. Thus De eruditione musica, despite its brevity, must be considered one of the Hamburg composer, writer and diplomat’s most crucial statements on the position and function of music within the system of arts and sciences.
The book consists of three parts: a short dedication to Johann Christoph Krüsike is followed by a more extensive section focusing on the central question of musical erudition; it concludes with a letter to Christoph Friedrich Leisner that expands this context by posing further questions. A German version of the Latin text exists in the hand of an unknown contemporary who had bound his manuscript into a copy of the first edition, which is now kept at the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin (Germany). This version has been taken into account in producing this edition.
The publication originated in a query by Krüsike, a German theologian and poet, to Mattheson whether there were any books on musical erudition and, more specifically, whether music, in Mattheson’s view, could or should be understood as part of erudition sensu stricto at all. Naturally, Mattheson’s answer to that latter question was affirmative: music, in his opinion, was not only part of erudition generally, but it was —in addition to theology—the most important discipline within the system of the arts and sciences.
Mattheson’s choice to write in Latin is striking, especially considering the fact that Mattheson had explicitly addressed his first published book—Das Neu-Eröffnete Orchestre of 1713—at a public of gallant ‘Liebhaber’, i.e. amateurs of music, and not to experts or music theorists. Thus he had positioned his early writings in a non-professional context and in opposition to an academic or scholarly tradition. In contrast, De eruditione, by language alone, aimed to play a part in an intellectual culture, the university-oriented Res publica literaria. The specific concept of musical erudition that unfolds in De eruditione can only be understood, first, against the background of a general tendency within Mattheson’s writings, as his career developed, towards specialist literature. Second, it must be viewed as a result of the tension between the academic acquirement of pure ‘knowledge’ on the one hand and ‘experience’ on the other.
Mattheson’s turn towards a public of academically educated specialists or Kenner is already evident in his Das Beschützte Orchestre of 1717, which includes comprehensive references to a range of academic books and to classical authorities comprising Latin, Greek and even Hebrew sources. It reached a first climax in Das Forschende Orchestre (1721). Mattheson’s break with the ideal of gallant communication became final in his periodical Critica Musica (1722–25) and in his systematic taxonomy of music in Der Vollkommene Capellmeister (1739). In the latter, the most frequently quoted of his works, Mattheson stresses the integration of practical and theoretical knowledge for the erudite musician while at the same time underlining the necessity of historical and critical reflection. In De eruditione he posits not only that musicians should be well read, but also that music itself should be an important part of erudition in general.
In this little book, Mattheson seeks to propagate an academic and scientific concept of what music is, while at the same time placing it outside the boundaries of the traditional academic discourses of the university, and thus outside its traditional place in the liberal arts’ quadrivium. His concept of musical erudition therefore stands in contrast to the one Mizler elaborates in his Dissertatio. The two authors present opposing models of knowledge acquisition. Although their social origins were similar, their educations differed considerably. Mizler studied ‘belles lettres’ among other disciplines at university, and graduated as a doctor of both medicine and philosophy. Mattheson, by contrast, started his career on the opera stage at the age of nine. A few years later he left school, presumably without any formal qualifications, but continued to study foreign languages including French, English and Italian. Together with his skills in Greek and Latin this study formed the basis of a broad literary knowledge that drew its strength from wide reading across different genres such as poetry, novels and learned journals; it also formed the basis for his professional career as private secretary to the British envoy in Hamburg. Indeed, Mattheson’s decision to follow a career as a diplomat, instead of filling the position of an organist or Kapellmeister as his main occupation, can be understood as a strategy to avoid the low social status of an illiterate, uneducated musician. His higher status was eventually confirmed by the title Holsteinischer Legationsrat awarded to him in 1744. In De eruditione Mattheson, the auto-didact, proposes a practice-oriented curriculum. Confidently he affirms the equality, if not superiority, of his kind of education to merely academic knowledge. Purely theoretical learning of the sort common at university, in his opinion, leads to a mathematical approach to music devoid of any practical relevance.
In De eruditione academic erudition and the ‘fine arts’ are seen to interfere with each other. Musical erudition, for Mattheson, is based not on mathematical proof and exact demonstrations of cause and effect; he considers these categories inadequate means of assessing music. Instead, he argues, a musician should be well informed not just about music theory and composition, but should be educated in the historical sciences, the ‘modern’ humanities, especially history, and in theology. Musical effect, i.e. its ability to arouse certain affects, is for him beyond mathematical explanation and, indeed, beyond rational understanding. This unique quality, and its possible use in moving people to religious devotion, in Mattheson’s eyes makes music an equal to the highest faculties of erudition, first and foremost theology. With reference to Luther Mattheson even claims that musical erudition is the basis for all other kinds of knowledge.
Mattheson’s polymathie echoes seventeenth-century concepts of knowledge. The most influen-tial and most frequently quoted of his models is the Dutch scholar and theologian Gerhard Johannes Vossius (1577–1649). Yet Mattheson cites many other seventeenth-century thinkers including Justus Lipsius, Joan Albert Ban, Johann Amos Comenius and Hugo Grotius, all of them in music-related contexts. Mattheson’s comprehensive references to these authors reflects a twofold aim: on the one hand he obviously wishes to legitimize the type of musical erudition he himself, like these authorities, personified; on the other hand he seeks to suggest that experience-based and academic forms of learning about music were in fact equivalent. In addition, Mattheson aims to loosen the close association of music with the quadrivium, by stressing its participation in the course of the historia litteraria. Finally, by quoting Ban, a Catholic priest and composer, Mattheson underlines the importance of musica practica and compositional practice. Besides these references to seventeenth-century authors, Mattheson also explicitly mentions three of his contemporaries as ideal representatives of musical erudition: the Rostock writer Heinrich Jacob Sivers, the Rector of the Katharineum in Lübeck Johann Heinrich von Seelen, and the Göttingen professor Christoph August Heumann. All of them were primarily theologians.
In contrast with Mizler, Mattheson’s concept of musical erudition is, on the whole, ‘eclectic’ in the philosophical sense of the term as Christian Thomasius had elaborated. Thomasius had argued that authors, using their critical judgement, make selections from the comprehensive sources of historical knowledge following criteria of usefulness and applicability. Profound knowledge of those writings was, of course, the most important precondition for this operation. The result consisted of something we might call ‘strategic quotation’. Further, the eclectic method can be read as an expression of Mattheson’s scepticism regarding hermetically closed musical systems. In contrast, Mattheson argues for a musical erudition rooted in the variety of its musical practices. (KM)
Mizler’s Conception of Musical Erudition as Science
In 1734 Lorenz Christoph Mizler submitted his Dissertatio quod musica ars sit pars eruditionis philosophicae in order to gain the degree of Master of Philosophy at the University of Leipzig. With his thesis Mizler intended nothing less than the re-establishment of music in the canon of the philosophical academy. To underline the seriousness of this goal, and to gain broader public interest, Mizler dedicated his little treatise to Johann Mattheson and Johann Sebastian Bach, giants of the German-speaking world in musical thought and practice respectively. A corrected and expanded second edition followed in 1736, in which Mizler rendered his central aim with more precision. The new formulation of the title in the second edition is of programmatic significance: Dissertatio quod musica scientia sit et pars eruditionis philosophicae. In replacing art with science Mizler clearly rejects an artistic tradition founded on knowledge gained from musical experience in favour of an Aristotelian notion of music as deductive science demanding stable, meta-historical forms of knowledge.
Mizler is generally known to have followed the rationalist philosophy of Leibniz and Wolff. His Dissertatio, however, helps to refine this rather simple image. For one thing, Mizler had received a dose of Lockian sensualism from his academic teacher August Friedrich Müller, whose Einleitung in die philosophischen Wissenschaften (second edition, Leipzig 1733) Mizler cites in the first paragraphs of his treatise. In fact, the main axiomatic construction of the Dissertatio, as we shall see, depends strongly on Müller’s brand of sensualist philosophy. In short, Mizler’s early musical thought was much closer than commonly acknowledged to that of Mattheson, whose Orchestre writings Mizler planned to make a basis for his own academic teachings at Leipzig university.
The Dissertatio is in four parts. The first traces the course of philosophical erudition on music since antiquity (paragraphs I–IV). The second proposes a division of musica scientia into theoretical and practical domains by outlining their respective objects and purposes (paragraphs VII–XXI). The third demonstrates the ontological, anthropological, and rational fundamentals of musica scientia as the basis for systematic coherence (paragraphs XXII–XLII). After this densely argued section Mizler proposes a formal definition of musical science which includes an affirmation of music’s affiliation with philosophy as well as a definition of the perfect musician. In conclusion, the fourth part extols the benefits of music to the political commonwealth and to other academic disciplines (paragraphs XLIII–XLV).
Part two defines in a traditional manner the elements of a theory of music ascending in complexity from sound (sonus) to tone (tonus), intervals of consonant and dissonant quality, harmony, mode or key (modus). Mizler goes on to define the purpose of practical music: moving the human affects by means of regular composition. The argumentative core of part four, like part two, addresses the question of the specific qualities of particular intervals and posits cooperation between sensus and ratio. With the help of definite quantities—the senario of Zarlino—reason, Mizler maintained, can explain the truth of what the senses feel. He closes the argument with an axiom of theoretical anatomy, on the one hand, and the assertion that the senses cannot be fooled on the other. Anyone with a healthy ear, he claims, should be able to hear that c-f sharp-b is a dissonant chord, and c-g-c a consonant one. The truth of this judgment lies in the fact that God has constructed the human ear in a specific manner (XXVII). Of the secondary hypotheses that follow, the most significant ones emphasize the mathematical relationship between an interval‘s degree of consonance and its harmonic ratio: the further that ratio diverts from the unity (1:1) the more dissonant it will sound. Thus in an Aristotelian sense of episteme, Mizler tried to find solely meta-historical statements to anchor his definition of musical science. That the interval of the third —responsible for the multiple perfect consonance within the triad (cf. XXXIII and XXXVI with note 15)—was not counted among the consonant intervals by the ancient Greeks, Mizler explains away by noting that Greek music had obviously not arrived at a level of perfection like present music has (II, note 15).
It seems bewildering that Mizler begins the Dissertatio with a historical derivation of the notion of philosophy and not a formal definition of philosophical sciences. Yet, the origin of this passage (paragraph IV) offers clarification: it stems from Müller’s Einleitung. Since 1732 Müller had been professor of Aristotelian logic at Leipzig University; in the winter semester 1733/34 he was appointed Rector. Most likely Mizler had heard his lectures, and presumably Müller was one of the examiners in Mizler’s viva voce examination. Surely Mizler considered it advantageous not only to cite the passage, but also to conceal the names Leibniz and Wolff in his Dissertatio. Müller, alongside his own academic teacher Andreas Rüdiger, was among the early German recipients of John Locke, and Müller’s theory of cognition derived all of its notions of reason from sensuous experience and mnemonic operations. In his Einleitung Müller criticized the a priori notions of reason (ideae innatae) or Platonistic ideals of ‘groundless poetry’ (ungegründetes geticht) and discarded the approaches of Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz and Wolff. In our context, Müller’s idea that there is an unreasonable a priori of the senses is crucial, for it recurs in Mizler’s Dissertatio. This sense perception was a matter of the certitude of cognition which, in the case of Christian Wolff and the Cartesian cogito, was tied to the prerequisite of ‘self-assurance’, i.e. to the certainty of one’s own existence. The rationale of ‘self-assurance’, however, was problematic insofar as a transcendental a priori was needed to approve its existence. For Müller, this line of argument could be dispensed with, because the immediacy of the senses to the realness of the world (or better: the precondition of the possibility that the world we perceive is in fact real) does not need further explanation or justification. The basis of a truth of thought (‘wahrheit der gedanken’) lies in perception and sensation. In turn the basis of a truth of sensation (‘wahrheit der sinne’) lies in the assumption that there really is something in the objects of the senses that can evoke distinct sensations. Since God has set limits to the capability of human cognition, there is no need for a far-reaching transcendental rationale for ‘realness’. The truth of the senses is not an object about which we reason, but an object of the (re-)assurance that the world of cognition has borders.
Mizler’s argument that the design of the human ear is divine (paragraph XXVII) and his confidence that the sense of hearing thus cannot be deceived, is of a piece with Müller’s thought. Thus it is significant that Mizler, following Müller’s sensualism, bases his argument not on the transcendental truth of musical numbers and proportions but on the ‘real’ truth of the perception of consonance and dissonance. But he doesn’t leave reason out of the picture. Instead, he claims a higher function for reason than the more purist supporters of the senses. Mizler argues that only reason allows us to understand such complex phenomena as the gradient of consonance to dissonance or the formation of the triad. Reason sharpens the senses a posteriori.
From 1737 on, Mizler pursued the vision of building a complete system of music, which he foreshadowed in the formulation of institutiones musicae in the Dissertatio (paragraph XXXVII). In a reply to Mattheson’s De eruditione musica, Mizler even claimed that the formation of a system of musical thought should be the first aim of German musical scholars (see Appendix II). Yet the idea of a system based on a meta-historical rationale was overtaken by a debate that was reflected in the late writings of Mattheson and that was marked with traces of scepticism and the loss of confidence in systems (as articulated by Johann Adolph Scheibe). In his Musikalische Bibliothek of 1738, Mizler criticises Scheibe harshly for the inclusion of history into the disciplinary outline of music given in his Der Critische Musicus. In Mizler’s eyes cognitio historica (cognition based only on facts) should be independent of a systematic approach (which he misunderstood Scheibe’s delineation to be). Scheibe did indeed remove history from a 1745 revision of his disciplinary concept. This development documents that Mizler, with his bias against history and in favour of sensual ‘facts’, was working on something important, something that would concern theorists of music throughout the second half of the eighteenth century and beyond. (OW)