Nietzsche 6: The Weight of Music (28/11/2015)

ME21 collective

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About this performance

Between 1854 and 1874 Friedrich Nietzsche composed a substantial number of musical works, including fragmentary pieces for solo piano, several songs and even a sketched opera. His activity as a composer remains essentially unknown and his music pieces are rarely performed. Moreover, they are usually considered, in the best case, as juvenilia. Indeed, when Nietzsche decided to be first a philologist, then a philosopher, he stopped composing music. However, and beyond aesthetical judgments, his musical compositions disclose a character and a personality quite different from the far better-known Nietzsche-the-philosopher. Nietzsche-the-composer understands himself as a “medium”, an agent dominated by transcendent powers of inspiration and creation submitting him to pre-existing values; whereas Nietzsche-the-philosopher was a destabilising constructor, the inventor of new images of thought, the active operator of a fundamental redefinition of values. For Nietzsche music had the problematic potential of carrying an “oppressive weight”—an expression he openly used to refer to one of his compositions, and, later on, to Wagner’s music in general. A weight he increasingly associated with the idea of “swimming”, to which he proactively opposed the notion of “dancing”. In this performance, the Collective ME21, presents musical works by Nietzsche in dialogue with fragments of his texts, exposing some of the tensions between Nietzsche-the-composer and Nietzsche-the-philosopher.
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