Kenneth LaFave

Author

Salvador Dali: Mad Tristan, 1944.

It is at last clear that Schoenberg’s error was to ignore the inherently hierarchical nature, not just of Western tonality, but of pitched sound itself. This observation is controversial only because its application is potentially conservative.

Gustav Klimt: Music, 1895.

The roots of dodecaphony are generally traced back to Wagner, and especially to Tristan und Isolde, which might with good reason be called the rough musical equivalent of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. As Critique of Pure Reason was a turning point in Western philosophy, Wagner’s score was a turning point in Western music: if, after Kant, there was no way to know “the thing-in-itself,” one might say that, after Wagner, there was no way to know “the key in itself.”

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