Liebe und Tugend : Musik als eine moralische Institution

Title: Liebe und Tugend : Musik als eine moralische Institution
Variant title:
  • Love and virtue : music as a moral institution
Author: Biba, Otto
Source document: Musicologica Brunensia. 2023, vol. 58, iss. 1, pp. 5-18
  • ISSN
    1212-0391 (print)
    2336-436X (online)
Type: Article

Notice: These citations are automatically created and might not follow citation rules properly.

Love and virtue are present as a message in all varieties of modern musical creation, above all in opera, oratorio and cantata, but also in church and instrumental music from the 16th to the early 19th centuries: individually and as a couple, as alternatives or as opposites, as related feelings or those to be decided between, as good or bad.
Building on traditions, the stage became an institution during the Enlightenment, can make visible the feelings, thoughts and problems of society, which is comparable to religion, because the jurisdiction of the stage begins where the influence of worldly courts ends, which is why the stage can and must be educational. This was transferred from the stage to other branches of literary and musical art. That is why the librettist became a moral institution who had to portray feelings in his texts and teach morals. The moral education inherent in the text has to be supported and, above all, conveyed by the music.
The exponents of these feelings could be drawn from mythology or religion, in the Enlightenment also come from everyday life. For this reason, love and virtue are also a concern of church music, even of instrumental music in terms of program music, which – although without text – is a special form of dramatic music. During the Enlightenment, the stage was seen as a "moral institution" (Friedrich von Schiller), but it was also before that. The fact that musical stage works – in a broader sense also oratorios and cantatas – form the feelings, teach morality and have to follow an educational task, has the musical creation from the 17th to the early 19th century not disregarded, still less negated. Librettists and composers alike have fulfilled this task to a greater or lesser degree, sometimes demonstratively and sometimes subtly, which is particularly evident in the example of love and virtue. It is interesting to observe that the admonition to virtue and to true, not only sensual, love is often expressed or at least hinted at in the title of these musical stage works, oratorios and cantatas. In any case, they educate, even preach, just like church music with its liturgical, biblical or freely paraphrased texts. Opera, oratorio and cantatas were thus involved in a homiletic communication process up until the 19th century, which defined the character and meaning of love and virtue like other Christian values. Love and virtue are unquestionably prime examples of such musically mediated homiletics.
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