Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Leo Tolstoy on music.

From The Kreutzer Sonata, chapter 23:

"Music, they say, acts on one by elevating the soul. That is absurd. It acts upon us, it is true, acts with terrible effect —at least I am speaking for myself— but is far from elevating the soul. It neither elevates nor depresses the soul, but irritates it. Music forces me to forget myself and my true state; it transports me to some other state which is not mine. Under its influence I fancy I experience what I really do not feel, that I understand what I do not comprehend, that I am able to do what is completely beyond my power. Music instantaneously throw me into that state of feeling in which the composer of it found himself when he wrote it. My soul blends with his, and together with him I am transported from one frame of mind to another."

Even though the narrator (Pozdnischeff) is saying that this is a negative effect of listening to music (and, I guess, in some ways, that music is a willful distraction or opiate), it is indeed a very accurate account. And it illustrates perfectly why I want to spend my last dollars on it. I'm a roundabout opium addict, perhaps?

Thanks to Brad Summerhill —one of the best teachers I ever had— for introducing me to this confounding work of Tolstoy's.

John Klemmer and Franz Schubert are my opiate of choice these days.

That's all for now.


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