The ideas behind the music

The mission of music

Siegfried Langgaard's ideas about the mission of music can briefly be resumed as follows:
The Fall marked the beginning of mankind's earthly struggles and sufferings, and the art of paradise, livskunsten (The Art of Life), originally in harmony with the universe, was spilt up into various art forms. Mankind's constant striving to be "like unto God", the striving for salvation, is parallelled by the development of art from primitive stages upwards towards manifestations of an increasingly spiritual nature. Like mankind itself, art must go through a process of purification, which in the end - in the fullness of time - will mean that the various branches of art will again be united in the "harmony of the universe", which is one great hymn of praise formed by the sum of a myriad of dialectically opposed movements.

Geniuses are those who lead music further on in this development - composers such as Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and Wagner, whose musical dramas - especially Parsifal - were naturally milestones on the way to the highest form of spiritual art. Also César Franck, Bruckner and Niels W. Gade are placed high on the list. According to Siegfried Langgaard, the latter represented "the whole rosy-cheeked truth" of the world of music. On the contrary he cannot accept the perfumed, worldy scent spread by the music of Puccini and Richard Strauss!


In 1901 Siegfried Langgaard published this little book about the mission of music.
Eight years later, Carl Nielsen published his article, "Words, Music and Music with a Message", the content of which is in line with the famous book by the music critic, Eduard Hanslick, "Om det Skjønne i Musiken" (On the Sublime in Music)
(Danish edition 1885).
Siegfried Langgaard was so indignant about Nielsen's views that in protest he began to rewrite his own little book - and ended up with a work on the philosophy of music in three volumes, filling more that 2,000 hand-written pages of manuscript.
These writings have never been published, and are certainly not suitable for publication, but Rued Langgaard inherited them, and also to a large extent their ideology.