Music

THE LANGUAGE OF TONALITY in the music of Bach to Bruckner

By Hermann Beckh

Tran. Alan Stott

Bach & the Dance of Heaven & Earth cover

The Language of Music: in Mozart's The Magic Flute

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Reviews

THE LANGUAGE OF TONALITY in the music of Bach to Bruckner

 

Hermann BECKH - The Language of Tonality Why are musical works named by their keys: "Mass in B minor", "Symphony in D major", and so on? Can certain things be said best, or even "only", in certain keys? Can we hear the essence of a key? Are "subjective" and "objective" relevant, or is there a higher synthesis? How could the common chord express so much musical variety for over three centuries, and for some decades concentrated in one city, Vienna, in Central Europe?

Hermann BECKH's (1875-1937) tone-zodiac - by 1922, not the first to be suggested - is still respected almost a century on. With it, he explores the motivating power in our tonal system as lived - nobody's invention, so in no way a "theory". The author - acknowledged polymath who also wrote music - played on the piano all the music mentioned in this pioneer study. In his explanation of tonality as an organising, creative principle, Beckh cites music from Bach - effectively the father of tonality - concluding with Wagner's music dramas. Beckh's apparently unique perspective on Wagner is one excellent reason to re-visit him, and Beckh, too, because his tone-zodiac invites access into the workshop of creation.

 Beckh extends the concept of "music" and "musical". The profession of music is not challenged, but upheld - from within. To see music as "abstract", or deriving from sonic vibrations are both challenged. Through Beckh's holistic intuition, the reader is invited "backstage" to research creativity itself. There is a practical path beyond the restrictions of dualism, beyond all "feel-good" factors - whether of "Mozart", "Wagner", or any other - in order to research "what is".

In-depth researchers already recognise Prof. Dr Hermann Beckh as a pioneer; musicians and music-lovers will gain innumerable enriching insights and stimuli. But even more, in telling us least about himself, and without notating a single musical example, the author is able to tell us a very great deal about the personality - of his reader.

Beckh on Beckh, and by his colleagues:

"In all other respects I stand on the shoulders of my predecessors in scholarship, and my particular view of life I owe to Rudolf Steiner; but in music, I feel I am really breaking ground."

Steiner himself said of him in this respect,

"Beckh ventures into provinces which I have not yet had an opportunity of investigating myself. And there is a great deal in what Beckh says about them."

There are not many people of whom Rudolf Steiner would have made such a remark. (Alfred Heidenreich. 1938)

 

Published: 2015

 

Publisher: Anastasi Ltd

 

Author: Hermann Beckh

 

ISBN: 978-1-910785-03-4

 

Price £22.00

The Language of Tonality in the music of Bach to Bruckner.

At long last, several important books that explore the holistic nature of music and its cosmic origins have been made available in English - for the first time. We have Heiner Ruland’s Expanding Tonal Awareness and Christoph Peter’s The Language of Music in Mozart’s ‘The Magic Flute’ (Anastasi 2015 - see review in New View Spring 2015) - which at the same time is the definitive study of the opera. To these must now be added the substantial achievements of arguably the greatest figure of them all, Prof. Dr Hermann Beckh (1875-1937). His works have only been available in German (excepting his standard book on Buddhism, translated into Japanese and Dutch), and there is much treasure still to come. Anastasi have now issued Beckh’s The Language of Tonality in a handsome paperback edition, with helpful layout (a welcome advance on all the German editions). Alan Stott’s concise and very readable translation is a true labour of love in which Beckh’s clear but rather complicated German style has been successfully surmounted. The translator has even risen to the challenge to complete a Collected Edition of this legendary writer, one of Rudolf Steiner’s closest pupils. In 2004 (rev. 2008) Anastasi issued Beckh’s The Essense of Tonality (written in 1922). Now in The Language of Tonality Beckh takes his ideas considerably further, embracing the Western musical language from Bach to Bruckner. He concentrates, however, on Richard Wagner (1813-83) and the evolution of this composer’s use of the musical keys in all the major music dramas, from The Flying Dutchman’ to ‘Parsifal’. In his introduction, Alan Stott puts Beckh’s ideas into a clear modern context. The book includes an article by Beckh on “The Mystery of the Night in Wagner and Novalis”, an inspiring contribution on Beckh and music by Lothar Reubke, interesting memories by August Pauli and a survey of the author’s career by Gundhild Kacer- Bock (Beckh’s biographer).

The polymath Hermann Beckh, Dr. jur. et phil. - ein Original as the Germans would say - who gained his first doctorate with a work on Civil Law, worked as a judge before changing career to pursue independent studies in Eastern languages; in the process he mastered six ancient languages to add to his complete fluency in six modern languages! He lectured at the University of Berlin, where, on hearing a lecture by Rudolf Steiner in 1911 on Elijah, his life was changed. Resigning from academic life in 1921, he aimed to work as an independent scholar for anthroposophy. But in 1922 he heard of plans to found the Movement for Religious Renewal, The Christian Community. Beckh joined immediately as a founder priest, taking on the task of founding the Seminary in Stuttgart. Two monumental studies, Mark’s Gospel: The Cosmic Rhythm and John’s Gospel: Stars and Stones (1928 & 1930) are both available from Anastasi by the same translator. These gospel studies contain several references to the musical keys - to a polymath like Beckh the subjects mutually correspond. This born educator, a very accomplished pianist able to illustrate his lectures at the piano with ease from memory, enjoyed playing piano duets of the Masters with his friends and colleagues from The Christian Community: Emil Bock, Dr Rudolf Frieling and Dr Alfred Heidenreich.

Beckh’s 1922-essay The Essence of Tonality pictures the twelve musical keys and their interrelationships in the form of a “tone-zodiac”, linking them to the course of the day, the seasons of the year and the human form, as a vast cosmic rhythm. Beckh understood the circle of fifths of the musical keys not merely as abstract theory, but as the deepest organising principle, to be lived and experienced, that is, inwardly heard. These ideas, expounded in lectures over many years, appeared in later works, such as Wagner and Christianity (1933) and The Parsifal-Christ Experience (1930, available in one volume from Anastasi, 2015), before finally coming to fruition in a crowning magmum opus The Language of Tonality. Beckh completed his book in 1936, though in considerable pain from a progressing cancer of the kidneys. The book was posthumously published in 1937; the terrible turmoil of World War II and the aftermath effectively buried it, certainly it did his other impressive works. Since those years Beckh has been known only, if at all, in German editions - until now.

Although the title runs “the music of Bach to Bruckner”, the central core of the book is devoted to how Wagner, apparently totally intuitively, explored the cycle of key-relationships in his music dramas. Beckh’s first chapter, “The Circle of the Musical Keys” explains the deeper connections between, for example, C-major and its polar opposite in the circle, F#-Gb-majors, also G-major and Db-major, E-major and Bb-major, all of which also form triangles with other keys. The circle of keys moves, like the day and the year, progressively lighter and higher, then after the transition in F#-Gb, to the keys with flats, Db, Ab, Bband F-majors. The minor keys normally depict the shadow side of the key- centre. The remaining chapters explore each of these key-centres in detail, constantly referring to examples from the masters; much of the music is quite familiar. Beckh moves on to specifi'c passages in Wagner’s ‘The Flying Dutchman’, ‘Tannhäuser’, ‘Lohengrin’, ‘The Ring’, ‘Tristan and Isolde’, ‘The Mastersingers’ and finally ‘Parsifal’. No written musical examples are given - strictly not necessary, as Beckh describes relevant passages from each work using Wagner’s text, here printed with the original German and in English translation side by side. Wagner-lovers will have the advantage in recognising passages and are encouraged to place them in the context of the whole work performed in one’s mind. But this book is not only for musicians; the musical terminology is widely used but kept to a minimum. Music-lovers will find Beckh’s insights a revelation, a stimulus to revisit this controversial, yet considerable artist.

At the time Beckh was writing (during the difficult 1920’s and 30’s), the language of music, like the visual arts, was passing through various stages: tonality, atonality, bitonality, polytonality, neo-classicism, dodecophony, et al. After the War, some music sank even deeper into the subterranean realms of “organised noise”, electronic “music” and the rise of the “avant- (but really derriere!) garde”. But music is not to be mocked; it has taken quite a time for the truer understanding of music and its mission to re-surface again. The 21 st-century will expect from us a much more holistic re-membering of the source of music, often called the “universal language”. In this respect, is could be that Hermann Beckh really was writing for the future, as his colleague at the seminary, Emil Bock, for one, maintained; his vision (or “audition”) is for a time when music’s true destiny and purpose should re-awaken. That time is now; this is the book to assist in that process.

Michael Jones

New View Magazine 3rd Quarter Summer 2015

 

By Christoph Peter

Tran. Alan Stott

Bach & the Dance of Heaven & Earth cover

The Language of Music: in Mozart's The Magic Flute

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The Language of Music: in Mozart's The Magic Flute

Christoph Peter appreciates music as complete and perfect in every human being. It richly expresses our vitality, feelings and strivings. The goal of The Magic Flute is "the right union of the Papageno world of our natural origins with the world of Tamino, our striving spirit". The path of love and obedience is pictured in the Sun-realm of Sarastro and the temple of wisdom. The opposite pole is the realm of night, exemplified by the Queen of the Night and her vassals. Peter finds life's polarities pictured in the fairy-tale text and in Mozart's music - achieved wisdom and natural instinct, spirit and nature, life and form, urgency and rest, light and dark, love and hate... Like the human being, music always stands between polar forces. We experience ourselves, losing or finding ourselves again in a living, musical process of breathing, in the rise and fall of melody, in long and short notes, in major and minor, in the dynamics, indeed even with instruments, with the intervals or in the phrasing (Chr. Peter).

 The universal law of polarity necessitates a third factor: the transition or threshold between two antagonistic forces. This is directly portrayed, both on the stage and in Mozart's music. Linking up with other scholars (notably Abert), the author presents his vision in concrete musical terms: Mozart's music portrays inner time, inner space and inner centring. The perennial path of transformation, the "middle way" - named "T A O" in Far-Eastern tradition - becomes music. "The background of the mysteries in The Magic Flute - which people mostly seek in the text), can be found in the musical realm" (Chr. Peter). A largely unknown Mozart, who places his elements very simply and sensitively, emerges with his inclusive vision of human concerns. This definitive study of Mozart's most sublime work is also a comprehensive study of music's creative language; a companion for the musical artist and music lover of the twenty-first century.

Published: 2014

 

Publisher: Anastasi Ltd

 

Author: Christoph Peter

 

ISBN: 978-0-9569266-6-1

 

Price £36.00

Hermann Pfrogner, in Die Kommenden

Musical studies have been enriched by a book of most unusual, probably unique significance. It should be read by everyone who loves The Magic Flute. In truly masterly thoroughness and sympathetic understanding, the author helps the musician and music lover to rediscover this work. Mozart's opera, sadly misunderstood especially today, according to Wilhelm Furtwängler, is "the most profound and unfathomable musical work in the whole world.

By Hermann Beckh

Tran. Alan Stott

The Parsifal=Christ=Experience

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The Parsifal=Christ=Experience

The polymath Prof. HERMANN BECKH, Dr. jur. et phil. (1875-1937) is being rediscovered. This linguist, Orientalist and Christian priest - an active music-lover, who also wrote music - penned pioneer works on our musical system still respected by musicians and musicologists. Beckh also champions the music drama of Richard WAGNER.

In The 'Parsifal' = Christ = Experience in Wagner's music drama - referring to Wagner's own letters and a most remarkable letter of Nietzsche - Beckh faces the deepest inner question of our time, identified by Wagner. In the poetic libretto and remarkable music of his final creation, Wagner presents the Grail legend and its imagery. The psychological drama and its ultimate solution is accessible to all those who reflect on their experience. Beckh's original insights bring a new and powerful light to the search for meaning of our age, for a knowledge of the heart. The reader meets the real Wagner, acknowledged by Bruckner himself as "the master".

Published: 2014

 

Publisher: Anastasi Ltd

 

Author: Hermann Beckh

 

ISBN: 978-0-9569266-7-8

 

Price £12.12

By Rudolf Steiner

Tran. Alan Stott

Eurythmy as Visible Singing

Book Details

Reviews

Part I, Rudolf Steiner, EURYTHMY as VISIBLE SINGING Verbatim report of a course of lectures held in Dornach 19 Feb. 1924 – 27 Feb. 1924, 4th Edition, newly translated, including a facsimile, transcription and translation of the Lecturer’s Notes, with an introduction and index. Part II, A Companion to Rudolf Steiner’s "Eurythmy as Visible Singing", compiled and expanded by: Alan Stott, together with Josef Matthias HAUER “Interpreting Melos” (1923)

Published:

2013

 

Publisher:

Anastasi Ltd

 

ISBN: 978-0-9569266-1-6

 

Price: £30.00

No Reviews Available

The Essence of Tonality

By Hermann Beckh

Tran. Alan Stott

The Essence of Tonality

Book Details

Reviews

This essay is written for those who have not only a general understanding or interest in music, but also a feeling for the keys and their individual, differentiated colourings, and who can experience them inwardly. It is written for musicians and music-lovers who, because of their particular musicality experience something spiritual, and for spiritual seekers and sensitive people who, because of their particular spirituality, have experienced a connection with music. The facts and connections indicated here are in themselves not really new. Through the method of observation attempted here, they might be viewed in a new light. This short work does not claim to have exhausted the subject. It would hope to stimulate the thoughtful reader to further work on these inner considerations and questions.

Published:

Original (German) 1925

Translated (English) 2001

This Edition 2008

 

Publisher:

Anastasi Ltd (this edition)

 

ISBN: 978-0-9553077-7-5

 

Price: £8.50

No Reviews Available

Songs of Sunfield 1930 ~1940: Jubilee Edition 1990

By Michael Wilson & Others

Songs of Sunfield

Book Details

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Sunfield has undergone many changes since those early days, but it still maintains a foremost place amongst those who seek to meet the very special needs of the children entrusted to Sunfield's care. May these songs play a renewed part in meeting those needs, here and everywhere.

 

This Jubilee edition is a facsimile of the delightful book first published in 1940. A collection of songs taught and performed at Sunfield children's home and school. With over 40 songs including titles:

The Birthday Song

St Bride of the Isles

And the very popular In The Quest Of The Holy Grail

 

From the introduction to the jubilee edition:

Cynthia Chance writes, “For those of us who were at its birth, the name ‘Sunfield’ must immediately evoke memories of songs and music . . . music which was in so many ways the very foundation of the life of the Home. One song above all others is known and sung around the world, and it was born out of the inspiration of Fried Geuter’s son Herbert, only a young boy at the time, who insisted that there should be a play about Parsifal on that first Easter of the Sunfield Home. So began that remarkable collaboration and partnership between Fried Geuter and Michael Wilson, and the song ‘In the Quest of the Holy Grail’ was written, to become a theme song for all those devoted to the search for the Holy Grail. Every season’s Festival called for a dramatic Inspiration, and for these, numerous songs were written; very often it was the poems of Maria Geuter which were the inspiration for Michael’s wonderful music.

“As Sunfield expanded and moved out to Clent Grove in Worcestershire, the primitive plays suitable for the house in Selly Oak, were developed into the well- known Parsifal, St. John, and St. Bride Plays, which were performed every year, and whose songs were echoed in many homes, especially the songs from the St. Bride Play. (My own children insisted on the singing of the ‘cradling’ song from St. Bride, every night before they would go to sleep!)

“It is a happy thought that songs created so long ago for special occasions in one place, by friends who are not now with us any more, are now shared and sung by so many around the world — poems and music alike created by those who held all Humanity in their hearts.”

 

Published:

This Edition 1990

 

Publisher:

Redverse Ltd

 

ISBN: 0-9524403-1-8

 

Price: £9.95

 

 

No Reviews Available

The Human Being as Music

By By Lea van der Pals

Tran. Alan Stott

The Human Being As Music

Book Details

Reviews

THE HUMAN BEING AS MUSIC describes essence and effects of music. The author seeks deeper perspectives, beyond ordinary aesthetic appreciation, based on a lifetime’s experience of eurythmy. Eurythmy, in which music is expressed visually, was initially developed from 1912 by Rudolf Steiner (1861 - 1925). An important and invaluable aspect of this book is the presentation of Steiner’s contribution on music, mainly in his own words.

Published:

2014

 

Publisher:

Anastasi Ltd

 

ISBN: 978-0-9569266-5-4

 

Price: £7.00

No Reviews Available

Rests and Repetition in Music

By Christoph Peret

Tran. Alan Stott

This book is  updated

Rests and Repetition in Music

Book Details

Reviews

This book provides an introduction to Peter’s conviction of this power of music. Rests and Repetition in Music contains an exact yet sensitive study of these musical phenomena. Out of this study, Peter then indicates, for teachers and parents alike, how these phenomena are more generally applicable in education and life. ‘Children should learn the art of living. Everybody, albeit in humble measure, can accomplish something in the realm of art. Indeed, is not life itself an art?’ (Christoph Peter)

Published:

1992 revised 2015

Trans.: Alan Stott

Publisher:

Anastasi Ltd

 

ISBN: 978-1-910785-08-9

 

Price: 12.36

No Reviews Available

Bach & the Dance of Heaven & Earth

Compiles Alan Stott

Bach & the Dance of Heaven & Earth cover

Bach & the Dance of Heaven & Earth

Book Details

Reviews

Contains photos, eurythmy form & interviews with Prof. Paul ROBERTSON (leader Medici String Quartet), Maren Stott (eurythmy), Alan Stott (research) on interpreting BACH; the hidden sacred models (chorales, the creed, etc. involving gematria) in the solo-violin works, especially the famous CHACONNE (to his deceased wife) of the D-minor Partita. Full research details in bibliography.

Published:

2003

 

Publisher:

Anastasi Ltd

 

ISBN: 0-9541048-5-4

 

Price £8.00

No Reviews Available

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