The sixteen lectures by Geoffrey Payzant in this volume are all about one little book by Eduard Hanslick, Vom Musikalisch-Schönen – On the Musically Beautiful. Published at Prague in 1854 and a mere 104 pages, VMS ran to ten German editions and many translations in Hanslick’s lifetime (he died in 1904). One may agree or disagree with its arguments and conclusions, but there is no denying that musical aesthetics as we know it has been given shape and direction by this small classic. Payzant’s lectures examine aspects of the Hanslick debate which have been given less attention than they deserve. In particular, they offer a fresh look at Hanslick’s use of the German words Ton (tone) and Gefühl (feeling).
Throughout his career Geoffrey Payzant combined music and philosophy. His teachers of music were Harry Dean, Greta Kraus and George Little. He had his philosophical training at the University of Toronto, where he taught the philosophical aesthetics of music in the Department of Philosophy from 1957 to 1985. His publications include Glenn Gould, Music and Mind (1978); an English translation of Hanslick’s VMS (1986); and Eduard Hanslick and Ritter Berlioz in Prague (1991). Geoffrey Payzant died in 2004.
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