The ‘Science of Reality’ of Music History: on the Historical Background to Max Weber’s Study of Music

  • Christoph Braun

Abstract

‘He has never, we said afterwards, done anything more incredible. We were all completely dazed and dumbfounded.’ Bewilderment clouds the admiration with which the Heidelberg theologian Hans von Schubert comments, presumably in late 1912, on a lecture by Max Weber on the ‘sociology of music’ given in his Heidelberg home on Ziegelhäuser Landstrasse.1 It shows the difficulty Weber’s contemporaries faced in fitting his widely diverse interests within the canon of academic disciplines. How did the trained jurist, economist, historian and cultural analyst come to be directing his enquiries towards fields so foreign to his subject as music? A few motifs taken from the history of Weber’s works as a whole and from his biography, described below, should provide an insight into this and demonstrate the nature of the theoretical musical analyses as well as their connection with the general interests of the social and cultural scientist.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 1.
    Recorded by Eduard Baumgarten, in Baumgarten, ed., Max Weber: Werk und Person, Dokumente, ausgewählt und kommentiert (Tübingen: Mohr, 1964)Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Cf. Friedrich Tenbruck, ‘The problem of thematic unity in the works of Max Weber’, trans. S. Whimster, British Journal of Sociology, XXXI, 3, (1980), pp. 316–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 4.
    Weber together with Werner Sombart and Edgar Jaffé in the new editors’ ‘Geleitwort’ to Archiv für Sozialwissenschaft und Sozialpolitik XIX (1904), p. II.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    Cf. the contemporary critiques of the Protestant Ethic and Weber’s ‘anticritiques’, edited by Johannes Winckelmann (Gütersloh; Siebenstern 1978, 3rd impression); and also Helmut Fogt’s survey, ‘Max Weber und die deutsche Soziologie der Weimarer Republik: Aussenseiter oder Gründervater?’, in Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie, Sonderheft 23 (1981), pp. 245–72.Google Scholar
  5. 10.
    Verhandlungen, 1911, p. 99ff. [Part of Weber’s contribution is translated in S. Whimster and S. Lash, Max Weber, Rationality and Modernity (London: Allen & Unwin, 1987), pp. 278–80.]Google Scholar
  6. 14.
    Cf. Ingrid Gilcher-Holtey, ‘Max Weber und die Frauen’, in: Christian Gneuss and Jürgen Kocka, eds, Max Weber. Ein Symposion (Munich: Deutscher Taschenbuch 1988), p. 151.Google Scholar
  7. 24.
    GStA, Max Weber Nachlass, Rep. 92, no. 26, sheets 45–6 and MWGII/7 (in press) p. 754. Critical reception of the study has not taken much notice of this statement of intent. Rather, the’ social’ was soon — even as a result of the title — disregarded, or reinterpreted as’ sociological’. It was given attention not by sociologists, with the exception of Hermann Matzke, Musikökonomik und Musikpolitik. Grundzüge einer Musikwirtschaftslehre, (Breslau, 1927), p. 8, but by music theorists: Tibor Kneif, ‘Gegenwartsfragen der Musiksoziologie’, in: Acta musicologica XXXVIII (1966), p. 77Google Scholar
  8. Heinz-Dieter Sommer, ‘Max Webers musiksoziologische Studie’, in: Archiv für Musikwissenschaft 39 (1982), p. 81Google Scholar
  9. Braun, ‘Grenzen der Ratio, Grenzen der Soziologie. Anmerkungen zum “Musiksoziologen” Max Weber’, in Archiv für Musikwissenschaft 51 (1994), p. 18ff.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 26.
    MSS, pp. 80–1. Cf. also Lawrence A. Scaff, ‘Max Webers Begriff der Kultur’, in Gerhard Wagner and Heinz Zipprian, eds, Max Webers Wissenschaftslehre. Interpretation und Kritik (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp 1994), pp. 678–700.Google Scholar
  11. 36.
    Cf. also Christoph Braun, ‘Vom Clavichord zum Clavinova. Kulturanthropologische Anmerkungen zu Max Webers Musik-Studie’, in Historische Anthropologie 3 (1995), pp. 242–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 43.
    Weber’s admiration for Wagner’s Tristan and Mastersingers is the musical equivalent of that ‘genuine pathos’ of’ self-abandon’ which belongs to what is ‘most inwardly genuine and real in life’; cf. the ‘value-freedom’ essay, MSS, pp. 2–3, 16. Those two works, as also the second act of the Valkyrie mentioned in his ‘Protestantism’ essay (PESC, pp. 107–8), Weber counts among the ‘truly “eternal” works that Wagner has created’. Tristan in particular is to Weber ‘the kind of great experience that one very seldom has, a work of great human truthfulness and unparalleled musical beauty. The extrahuman and superhuman additions are simply not there’ [in contrast to Parsifal, which Weber, like Nietzsche, finds a game, ‘empty sweetness’; C.B.]. The companions were ‘completely carried away by its ecstasy and experienced this work of art as the highest transfiguration of the earthly’: Marianne Weber, Max Weber. A Biography (New Brunswick, N.J.: Transactions, 1988), pp. 501–3Google Scholar
  13. 59.
    Cf. A. Zingerle, Max Webers historische Soziologie. Aspekte und Materialien zur Wirkungsgeschichte (Darmstadt 1982), p. 152; for the development of music into ‘art’, see also G. Simmel, ‘Psychologische und ethnologische Studien über Musik’, in: Zeitschrift für Völkerpsychologie und Sprachwissenschaft 13 (1882), p. 268.Google Scholar
  14. 63.
    MUS, p. 12. Examples of other analyses of elective affinities in music: ‘Chromaticism is antipathetic to the early church just as to e.g. the ancient Hellenic tragedians and the bourgeois Confucian musical teaching’ (MUS, p. 12). For the concepts of ‘ethos’, ‘conduct of life’ and ‘elective affinity’, cf. Klaus Lichtblau and Johannes Weiss, ‘Einleitung’, in: Lichtblau and Weiss, eds, Max Weber: Die Protestantische Ethik und der ‘Geist’ des Kapitalismus. Textausgabe auf der Grundlage der ersten Fassung von 1904/5 mit einem Verzeichnis der wichtigsten Zusätze und Veränderungen aus der zweiten Fassung von 1920, (Bodenheim: Hainstein 1993), p. viiGoogle Scholar
  15. 69.
    Cf. also Wolfgang Schluchter, Religion und Lebensführung (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1988), vol. I, p. 53ff. and Hubert Treiber, ‘Zur Genealogie einer “science positive de la morale en Allemagne”. Die Geburt der “r(e)ealistischen Moralwissenschaft” aus der Idee einer monistischen Naturkonzeption’, in: Nietzsche-Studien 22 (1993), p. 192.Google Scholar
  16. 70.
    MUS, p. 25. From the wealth of ethnomusicological monographs evaluated by Weber, see: Hornbostel, ‘Studien über das Tonsystem und die Musik der Japaner’, in Sammelbände der Internationalen Musikgesellschaft 4 (1902/3), p. 302ff.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christoph Braun

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations