Parry Society Mr Ralph Oliphant-Callum on Schopenhauer and Music

Parry Society welcomed RDO-C, as its first guest of the year, talking on the subject of Schopenhauer and Music. Whilst not a musician, Mr Oliphant-Callum approached the subject of music and philosophy with pieces by Wagner, Mahler and Strauss, conducted by such Schopenhauerian conductors as Furtwängler, Klemperer and Böhm. It was explained how these composers and conductors were influenced by Schopenhauer’s philosophy, especially that on music aesthetics. Schopenhauer’s conclusion in The World as Will and Representation is that music is a reflection of the world (or will) in sound, something that is abstract in effect and cannot be explained, whilst still retaining the scientific breakdown of its formal features, such as harmony and tonality. Mr Oliphant-Callum’s talk focused on how music, especially during the late German Romantic era, dealt with emotions and worldly concepts, which are unfound in other art forms. We did not gain, nor were we to gain, a better understanding of music listening. Rather, we received a greater sense of self-awareness whilst listening to it.

Quintin Beer (RDO-C)