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The Musical Order of the World: Kepler, Hesse, Hindemith (Interplay)
In the disastrous years before and during the Second World War, when confidence in a harmonious future was as difficult as it was crucial for spiritual survival, two German artists in exile wrote what would become their late masterpieces. The composer Paul Hindemith conceived an opera on the famous astronomer Johannes Kepler s mature life and theories,...
In the disastrous years before and during the Second World War, when confidence in a harmonious future was as difficult as it was crucial for spiritual survival, two German artists in exile wrote what would become their late masterpieces. The composer Paul Hindemith conceived an opera on the famous astronomer Johannes Kepler s mature life and theories, The Harmony of the World; the poet and novelist Hermann Hesse wrote a complex literary collage, The Glass Bead Game. Both works address the topic of universal harmony in the fabric of creation and culture, as well as the urgent problem of how such harmony can heal the spiritual, mental, and emotional developments of individuals and of society at large. The two quests are mirrored into circumstances that are almost equidistant from the mid-20th-century period in which their stories are being told Hindemith s opera centers on an outstanding intellectual in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, while Hesse s work focuses on this intellectual s counterpart projected into a fictional world of the early 23rd century. In both cases, the quest for harmony and truthful proportion manifests at all levels of the stories told and of the works telling them. Siglind Bruhn s thought-provoking interdisciplinary study is organized along the lines of the seven areas in which scholars of the Pythagorean tradition from Plato to Kepler and beyond found universal harmony paradigmatically realized music, arithmetic, geometry and astronomy (the quadrivium of the medieval liberal arts) complemented by metaphysics, psychology, and art.
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