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Contents

Music in the Early Twentieth Century

CHAPTER 5 Containing Multitudes (Transcendentalism, II)

Ives, Ruggles, Crawford; Microtonality

Chapter:
CHAPTER 5 Containing Multitudes (Transcendentalism, II)
Source:
MUSIC IN THE EARLY TWENTIETH CENTURY
Author(s):
Richard Taruskin

Richard Taruskin

In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts: they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty. Great works of art have no more affecting lesson for us than this. They teach us to abide by our spontaneous impression with good-humored inflexibility then most when the whole cry of voices is on the other side. Else, tomorrow a stranger will say with masterly good sense precisely what we have thought and felt all the time, and we shall be forced to take with shame our own opinion from another.1

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Self-Reliance” (1841)

We live in succession, in division, in parts, in particles. Meantime within man is the soul of the whole; the wise silence; the universal beauty, to which every part and particle is equally related; the eternal ONE.2

Emerson, “The Over-Soul” (1841)

Music is essentially the manly art.3

William Lyon Phelps, Music (1930)

The two epigraphs from the Essays of Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–82) may seem to be in contradiction. One places a proud and (it might be thought) typically American emphasis on individualism; the other places an equally strong premium on collectivity. Yet Emerson’s essay on “Self-Reliance” is also the source of his most famous maxim: “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.”4 The great American poet and preacher would surely have chimed in gladly with Walt Whitman’s celebrated lines (in “Song of Myself” from Leaves of Grass, published somewhat later) proclaiming, on America’s behalf, “Do I contradict myself?/Very well then I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes.)” And indeed, from a particular philosophical perspective Emerson’s two insights may be easily reconciled—or, to speak philosophically, “synthesized.” That standpoint can be found in a distinctively American strain of idealist thought that historians of philosophy now call New England transcendentalism (or “Transcendentalism,” unqualified and with a capital T, to use the name its proponents, like Emerson, preferred). Flourishing in and around the town of Concord, Massachusetts, between the 1830s and the 1850s, the movement is often cited as the first indigenously American “school” of philosophy.

Citation (MLA):
Richard Taruskin. "Chapter 5 Containing Multitudes (Transcendentalism, II)." The Oxford History of Western Music. Oxford University Press. New York, USA. n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2018. <http://www.oxfordwesternmusic.com/view/Volume4/actrade-9780195384840-chapter-005.xml>.
Citation (APA):
Taruskin, R. (n.d.). Chapter 5 Containing Multitudes (Transcendentalism, II). In Oxford University Press, Music in the Early Twentieth Century. New York, USA. Retrieved 15 Dec. 2018, from http://www.oxfordwesternmusic.com/view/Volume4/actrade-9780195384840-chapter-005.xml
Citation (Chicago):
Richard Taruskin. "Chapter 5 Containing Multitudes (Transcendentalism, II)." In Music in the Early Twentieth Century, Oxford University Press. (New York, USA, n.d.). Retrieved 15 Dec. 2018, from http://www.oxfordwesternmusic.com/view/Volume4/actrade-9780195384840-chapter-005.xml
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