Friday, September 21, 2007

Hegel at Juilliard

Mitchell Aboulafia, in his second year as chair of Liberal Arts, & in addition to deep changes in the department's structure, including reduced course load, increased number of faculty & the addition of many new electives, has brought Hegel to Juilliard. Meeting after hours, students from the New School of Social Research join Juilliard students to make their way through Phenomenology of Spirit under Mitchell's guidance. The group began last spring semester & continues this fall with 22 members meeting every other Monday.


Anthony Lioi said...

As a new member of the reading group, I can say that I already feel like the Absolute is realizing itself in history anew. Whether or not the Absolute gets all the way through the Phenomenology before History itself ends is another thing entirely.

AnecdotalValue said...

Did anyone ever tell you that you look a little like Hegel, Mitchell?

-- Hollis

Mitchell said...

Here is a passage from a lecture given by Professor Hertz of Indiana University at a conference on research and undergraduate education sponsored by The National Science Foundation and The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation in 2004. I make no claims about the legitimacy of his approach to Beethoven, and he is wrong about Hegel's use of thesis, antithesis and synthesis, but I thought that you might find it of interest.

Over the last two years I have offered two new courses in the IU Honors College, “Debussy and his Era” and “Beethoven and his Era,” designed to contextualize and open up the experience of great music for the students....All performances and outside events have been contextualized in the classroom, sometimes with detailed analysis. The idea is to connect the cultural life of the arts with the classroom study. The visceral experience of music also enlivens the classroom. In the case of Beethoven, the Hegelian dialectic and synthesis of the sonata is immediately apparent. I say Hegelian because Hegel (1770-1831) was born in the same year as Beethoven, wrote profoundly about music, and was famous for his theories of thesis, antithesis and synthesis. Beethoven was more well-read in literature and philosophy than most people know. And he copied out statements from contemporary philosophers for contemplation (one from Kant in his letters, one from Schiller under the glass on his writing desk). Beethoven was a master at setting out contrasting themes in his sonata forms and bringing them together in a remarkable synthesis. We can just as easily speak about the Beethovenian dialectic as the Hegelian, or perhaps we should call Hegel’s dialectic Beethovenian. Within the single movement of Beethoven’s sonata forms, elemental and simple musical ideas are introduced, then set apart, brought together in imaginative synthesis and then reconfigured for a final summation. It has been a great pleasure to have the time to go through the tremendous varieties of musical experience to be found in B’s thirty-two piano sonatas (most of which I play myself in excerpts for the students) and show the diversity of this musical enterprise to my students.

Mitchell said...


No. But if it is true, I hope that it is only a very little like Hegel.