The musical element
When speaking of the arts, Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925) emphasizes that the musical element increasingly belongs to the future of humanity. 1R. Steiner, True and False Paths in Spiritual Investigation, GA243, (RSP 1975). An accurate translation of the section on music (last part of the final lecture of 24.8.22) appears in Lea van der Pals, op. cit., p. 71ff. Compare: ‘The basic mood of the new world-conception [since the Mystery of Golgotha] is musical, whereas the basic mood of the old world was sculptural. The basic mood of the new age is really musical, and the world will become ever more musical. In order to continue rightly on the path of human evolution, we must know the importance of striving towards a musical element and not repeating the old sculptural one’ (R. Steiner, Der Baum des Lebens and der Baum der Erkenntnis des Guten and Bosen [‘The tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil’], lecture Dornach 31.7.15, GA162 [translation A. S.]; see also Appendix 4, ‘R. Steiner, Torquay, 22.8.24’, in Vol. 2). In the following words he points to the mission of music:
Fundamentally speaking, music is the human being, and indeed it is from music that we rightly learn how to free ourselves from matter. For if music were to become materialistic, it would actually be false: it is not ‘there’! Every other form of matter is present in the world and is insistent. But musical sounds are not to be found in the material world in their original form. We have to devise a means of producing them; they must first be made. The soul element that lives in the human being lies between the notes. But today, because the world has become so unmusical, people are scarcely aware of it. 2R. Steiner, Eurythmy as Visible Singing, GA278, Lecture 3.
This passage also
witnesses to Steiner's own particular mission at the beginning of the
twentieth century: to sow seeds in the cultural life which could enable
humanity to find its way from estrangement to cooperation with the world
of spirit. This concept is of immense practical importance in a century
which has allowed the forces of technology and finance to encroach into
the realm rightly belonging to the free human spirit. About the time of
these lectures, Steiner was responding to requests from many
professional quarters for advice which would provide creative stimuli.
Lecture courses were given to experts seeking renewal in their
particular fields: science, medicine, agriculture, religion, the arts,
education and therapeutic education. ‘The development of
anthroposophical activity into the realm of art resulted out of the
nature of anthroposophy.’ The art of eurythmy, however, occupies a
unique position as the newly-born daughter of anthroposophy itself. 3The name
‘anthroposophy’ (‘wisdom of the human being’) is
not used in any of Steiner's basic books. It appeared before the world
for the first time one year after the founding of the Anthroposophical
Society (1913), in the final chapter of R. Steiner, Riddles of
Philosophy [original edition 1914, English translation AP 1973],
‘A brief outline of an approach to anthroposophy’. In this
chapter, reference is made to the author's Truth and Science
(1882), The Philosphy of Freedom (1894), and the lecture
‘The psychological foundations and epistemological position of
spiritual science’, delivered before the Philosophical Congress,
‘Eurythmy has grown out of the soil of the anthroposophical movement, [originating] like a gift of destiny’ (R. Steiner, ‘Eurythmy, what it is and how it originated’, lecture Penmaenmawr 26.8.23 in Eurythmy as Visible Song [London and New York 1932], p. 1). ‘The artistic element will be an elixir of life of the anthroposophical movement’ (R. Steiner, introduction to a eurythmy performance on the occasion of the founding of the General Anthroposophical Society, Dornach 5.1.24, in GA277, p. 423). See also R. Steiner, Das Goetheanum in seinen zehn Jahren’ (‘The Goetheanum, ten years in retrospect’), essay of 14.1.24 in GA36, and Tb635 p. 131. For a detailed account, see R. Steiner, Die Entstehung and Entwicklung der Eurythmie (‘The origin and development of eurythmy’, translation in progress) GA277a (Dornach 1965), and R. Steiner, Eurythmie — die Offenbarung der Sprechende Seele (‘Eurythmy — revelation of the speaking soul’) GA277 (Dornach 1972), a collection of introductions to performances, and so on; a paperback mainly consisting of selections is published: Eurythmie, Tb642 (Dornach 1986). Some introductions are translated in R. Steiner, Eurythmy, an Introduction (AP 1984); the lecture 14.2.20 is translated in The Inner Nature of Music, op. cit.
For Steiner, it is not only music; all the arts are to become more musical. Steiner is concerned with living, creative activity. He communicated this vision most succinctly in a far-reaching lecture in Torquay. (See Note 1) Like J. M. Hauer (1883–1959), whose theoretical writings were known to him, Steiner uses the Greek Melos (‘tune’) for pure pitch (Melodie — ‘melody’, of course, includes rhythm and beat. See also Steiner's own lecture notes, p. 10). Both Hauer and Steiner use Melos to indicate the actual creative principle in music. ‘Melos is the musical element,’ Steiner claims (Lecture 4). In this translation I have retained Melos where it is employed.
In speech, Melos only ‘peeps through’. But it ‘poured into’ oriental architecture, which ‘really did transpose music into movement’. ‘Oriental architecture has within it a great deal of eurythmy,’ we read in Lecture 5. The word ‘rhythm’ comes from the Greek rhuthmos (measured motion, time rhythm), from rhe-ein (to flow). The word ‘eurhythmy’ is an architectural term: ‘beautiful proportion, hence beautiful, harmonious movement’ (Oxford English Dictionary). Laurens van der Post mentions the ‘eurhythmic grace’ of certain beautiful animal movements in his African writings. ‘Eurythmy’ and Melos, accordingly, have existed and do still exist both in nature and in human culture. Both worlds unite in the art of eurythmy, which cultivates Melos, and was brought to birth through Rudolf Steiner. (Otto Fränkl-Lundborg claims the spelling of ‘eurythmy’ without the ‘h’ is philologically correct; rho as suffix loses its aspirate. See Das Goetheanum, 49. Jg., Nr. 30, 26.7.70, p. 246).
Steiner, like Hauer, uses the expression das Musikalische (‘the musical’) more often than die Musik (‘music’), and in this way emphasizes the inner activity before the technicalities of the craft come into consideration. This is a supremely important detail. In English we have to extend this to phrases like ‘the musical element’, or ‘the realm of music’, which may be clumsy, but they are accurate. What Steiner has in mind and continuously refers to is the musical essence. This is not only the concern of musicians but it is the underlying creative, transforming force of life itself, present in all vital human expression. Moreover, it bears a direct relationship to the path of mankind's inner development. This development can be prepared and assisted by the inner activity of individuals on the path of initiation, which is described by Steiner as a process of development through God's grace, involving Imagination, Inspiration and Intuition (spiritual vision, inner hearing and a higher life). 4Rational thinking is not jettisoned in favour of ‘mysticism’ or something else. The spiritual activity within thinking itself can be strengthened for investigating and creating within the realm of the spirit. The spiritual activity of pure thinking, the higher union of science and religion demonstrated by Steiner, was prophesied, for example, by Emerson: ‘No man ever prayed heartily without learning something. But when a faithful thinker, resolute to detach every object from personal relations and see it in the light of thought, shall, at the same time, kindle science with the fire of the holiest affections, then will God go forth anew into the creation’ (R. W. Emerson, tract on ‘Nature’, Chapter VIII, . See also a recent study on Emerson, Richard G. Geldard, The Esoteric Emerson [The Lindisfarne Press, West Stockbridge, Mass., 1993]).
Long, long before the human being enters consciously into the stages of initiation, he is able to express these individual experiences in images, and this is done through music! In the last analysis genuine music is essentially a developing drama of life taking its course in musical sounds, which are an external picture of what the soul consciously experiences in the life of initiation. 5R. Steiner, Art as seen in the Light of Mystery Wisdom, GA275, Lecture 30.12.14 (RSP 1984).
We may sense that Steiner channelled his own musicality into his work as a teacher of humanity, and this he confirmed more than once:
It gave me particular pleasure to be told one day by one of our artistically-gifted friends that some of the lecture cycles I have given could be transcribed into symphonies purely on the basis of their inner structure. Some of the courses are indeed based in their structure on something very like this. Take for instance the lecture course given in Vienna on life between death and a new birth: you will see that you could make a symphony of it. 6R. Steiner, Practical Advice to Teachers (RSP 1976), GA294. The lecture course referred to is R. Steiner, The Inner Nature of Man and the Life Between Death and a New Birth, Vienna 9-14.4.14, GA153 (RSP 1959). Steiner aimed at a marriage of form and content in his work, which is the lofty artistic ideal. After the Christmas Foundation of 1923/4, he reached a new level in this respect. In connection with the subject matter of GA153, compare: ‘Contrary to the works of architects, sculptors and painters, musical works must be repeatedly generated anew; they flow onwards in the surge and swell of their melodies, a picture of the soul, which in its incarnations always has to experience itself afresh in the progressive stream of time. The soul flows down from its spiritual homeland and returns thither — likewise its shadow-images: notes and harmonies. Hence the intimate effect of music on the soul’ (R. Steiner, lecture Berlin 12.11.06, The Inner Nature of Music [AP 1983]).
Steiner confirmed that: ‘For anyone who would read my Occult Science as today one would read a novel or any other book, passively giving oneself to it, it is really only a thicket of words — and so are my other books. It is only someone who knows in every moment of reading that he must create out of his own soul's depths, and through his most intimate will — which the books should stimulate — only this person is able to regard these books as musical scores from which he can experience the true music. This active experience of the individual soul, moreover, is what we need’ (R. Steiner, Heilfaktoren fir den sozialen Organismus, lecture Dornach 2.7.20, GA198). See also R. Steiner, The Gospel of St John, Lecture XI, Hamburg 30.5.08, GA103 (RSP 1978); GA278, Lecture 6, Endnote 39 in Vol. 2.
The implications for the musician are discussed by Erich Schwebsch in his pioneer study on anthroposophy and music. He concludes: ‘The cosmology of Occult Science contains in its thoughts the best exercises for a meditative musician who is searching for new forms today’ (E. Schwebsch, J. S. Bach and Die Kunst der Fuge [Stuttgart 1988], Chapter 4 ‘Musik als Offenbarung des Geistes. Aphoristische Betrachtungen’, p. 193 [J. S. Bach and ‘The Art of Fugue’; translation of Chapter 4 in manuscript, ‘Music as revelation of the spirit. Aphoristic observations’]).
The art of eurythmy has been given to us as a gift from the future. Its evolution depends upon each individual eurythmist, musician and speaker developing an inner listening with his or her artistic feeling. This must be developed, not in an ecstatic way, but as a spiritual path the individual undertakes while within the body. This inner activity, Steiner insists (in answer to Hauer), can be revealed in art by raising sensory experience. 7In his first lecture, before the Goethe Society, Vienna 1888, Steiner said: ‘Beauty is not the divine in a cloak of physical reality; no, it is physical reality in a cloak that is divine. The artist does not bring the divine on to the earth by letting it flow into the world; he raises the world into the sphere of the divine’ (R. Steiner, Goethe as Founder ofa new Science of Aesthetics [Rudolf Steiner Pub., Co., London c.1927]). Steiner claims that this lecture, already in 1888, contains ‘a sound foundation for anthroposophy and the anthroposophical way of thinking’ (Preface to the second edition, 1919). The lecture suggests an acid test for what is truly new. Movements exist today which bear the adjective ‘spiritual’ but do not attempt any transformation. Indeed, it is often stated that ‘no musical knowledge is necessary’! Is not the call for courage against despondency and inadequacy met right here with every individual? The present lecture course may prove to be the best companion on such a path, which is akin to the practising of a musician. This is a demanding exercise, but however small the progress, it forms the substance of true art, and can be offered as nourishment to a world in need. 8See Schwebsch, Endnote 6. Pfrogner, in the chapter ‘und was nun? (‘and what now?’) in his extensive study on The living world of music’, presents a clear vision of tasks for the future: ‘No longer l'art pour l'art, but simply and solely: l’art pour l’homme will be the saying of the hour. This “art for human beings”, however, will have to be an art totally “from human beings”, an art in the above-mentioned sense “raised” from the human being, if it should be true “nourishment for life” ’ (H. Pfrogner, Lebendige Tonwelt [Langen Müller, München/Wien 1981], p. 474, trans. A.S.).
One of the questions today concerns recorded sound (see Appendix 6). After following the arguments concerning recordings, it can be refreshing to return to the present course of lectures. Though modestly described as ‘only a beginning’, Steiner begins where many of the great musicians of his time, and the ensuing decades, leave off. 9For example: Bruno Walter, Theme and Variations (Hamish Hamilton, London 1947), and On Music and Music-Making (Faber, London 1957); W. Furtwängler, Concerning Music (Boosey and Hawkes, London 1953); Artur Schnabel, My Life and Music (C. Smythe, New York and Gerrards Cross 1988), and Music and the Line of Most Resistance (Princeton 1942); Edwin Fischer, Reflections on Music (Williams & Norgate, London 1951); R. Vaughan Williams, National Music and other Essays (OUP 1987); J. Ma. Corredor, Conversations with Casals (Duddon, New York 1956).
Steiner characterizes music as the art which ‘contains the laws of our ego’. 10R. Steiner, Art as seen in the Light of Mystery Wisdom, lecture 29.12.24, GA275 (RSP 1984). If we could consciously dive down into our astral body, the musician in us, we could perceive the cosmic music that has formed us: ‘... with the help of the astral body, the cosmos is playing our own being ... The ancients felt that earthly music could only be a mirroring of the heavenly music which began with the creation of mankind.’ Modern humanity has been led into the muddy, materialistic swamp of darkness and desire, which obscures this music. But there is a path of purification leading to perception of the music of the spheres once again. When we hear a symphony we dive with soul and spirit into the will, which is usually asleep in daytime consciousness. Art — ‘even the nature of major and minor melodies’ - can bring life to the connection between man and cosmos (in other words, anthroposophy); to what might appear as dead form. Steiner warns ‘that these things are not a skeleton of ideas!’ hinting that his Theosophy was written musically, not schematically.
The present lectures on eurythmy represent Steiner's greatest contribution to musical studies. When he gave them in 1924, he advised the eurythmists to study Hauer's theoretical writings. Hauer was a musician who discovered atonal melody, or twelve-note music, at the same time (or even just before) as Schönberg did by a different route. Both composers endeavoured to get beyond the materialistic swamp through spiritual striving. 11For the best introduction to this perspective, see H. Pfrogner Zwölfordnung der Töne (Zürich/Leipzig/Wien 1953), reprinted in H. Pfrogner, Zeitwende der Musik (Langen Müller, München/Wien 1986), translation in manuscript, ‘Music's turning point of time’. By 1924 Hauer had published his own attempt at a Goethean theory of music, 12J. M. Hauer, Vom Wesen des Musikalischen (1920, later editions Robert Lienau, Berlin-Lichterfelde), translation in progress, ‘The essence of music’. and his Deutung des Melos (Interpretation of Melos, questions to the artists and thinkers of our time) includes an appreciation of Goethe's Theory of Colour. 13J. M. Hauer, Deutung des Melos (Tal & Co. Verlag, Leipzig/Wien/Zürich 1923), translation in manuscript ‘The interpretation of Melds’. In these eurythmy lectures, Steiner appears to agree with Hauer's diagnosis of the modern situation as ‘noise’; Wagner's music, for example, is ‘unmusical music’, though it has its justification. Steiner seems to agree with Hauer's spiritual principle of Melos, ‘the actual musical element’ (to Hauer ‘movement itself’, or the ‘TAO’, the interpretation of which is ‘the only true spiritual science’). He reproduces Hauer's correspondence of vowels and intervals, writing in his notebook Hauer's list of examples (Notebook, p. 10), and he retells the story of the Arab listening to a contrapuntal piece, who asks for it to be played ‘one tune at a time’. But Steiner certainly does not agree with Hauer's answer to the challenge of materialism. ‘Those who deride materialism are bad artists, bad scientists,’ Steiner declares. 14R. Steiner, The Arts and Their Mission, lecture Oslo, 18.5.23, GA276 (AP 1964), p. 111. Instead of criticism, he offers help.
In his profound study on Bach, Erich Schwebsch suggests that eurythmy arrived just at the right time in the evolution of mankind. 15Schwebsch presented his eloquent conclusion already in 1930: ‘But all inner experience of the soul when it is ripe to that end, wishes to become visible, perceptible. The soul world desires to become objective. The first beginning for this becoming visible of vitally filled musical movement, from the All rising up behind the Nothing [an echo from Goethe's Faust, Part 2, 6256. Translator's note.] of the vanishing past, at the exact nadir of time, is the art of music eurythmy: visible singing, newly created by Rudolf Steiner’ (E. Schwebsch, op. cit., p. 211). Chapter 4 is more than the title suggests. It is an anthroposophical musician's ‘credo’, which applies to Steffen's essay (see Endnote 21 below), too. His justification of music eurythmy is unlikely to be supplanted. With the founding of music eurythmy, a new beginning opens up for the art of music too. This thought was also expressed by the musician and eurythmist Ralph Kux. 16R. Kux and W. Kux, Erinnerungen an Rudolf Steiner and R. Kux, Eurythmie and Musik (Mellinger Verlag, Stuttgart 1976), translation in manuscript ‘Recollections of R. Steiner, and eurythmy and music’. It remains for me to draw attention to the counter-phenomenon accompanying this new beginning.
The counter-tendency, so strongly marked in Hauer's thought and life,
artificially separates itself from the human roots of music. Steiner's
answer to Hauer's dissatisfaction with western culture was to give a
further impetus to music eurythmy (already born but still in its
infancy) by tracing the origin of music back to the human being. Through
a conscious ‘turning inside out’ within the organism, at the
point of departure in the collar-bone, the cosmic music that formed us
(flowing in between the shoulder-blades) is released and made available
for artistic ends. 17See R. Steiner, The Essentials of Education,
lecture 10.4.24 a.m. (RSP 1982), p. 58. The physiology is explained in
A. Husemann, The Harmony of the Human Body (Floris Books, Edinburgh
1994; German edition, Der musikalische Bau des Menschen [Verlag Freies
Geistesleben, Stuttgart 1989]). Note, for example, with what careful
scholarship Dr Husemann explores what ‘beim Aufireten’
(‘by stepping’, or ‘with the first step’) from
Lecture 7 must mean (Section 31, p. 189ff.). See also Endnote 43 on
Ansatz, in Vol. 2. Music today, he implies, is not a purely
spiritual, meditative affair, leading (as later in Hauer's career) a
reclusive life. The music of the spheres sought along the old paths
‘out there’ in the cosmos leads to an abstract caricature
today. The living connection is to be found on earth, in the human
Steiner: ‘Since the Mystery of Golgotha we cannot speak of the
music of the spheres as did Pythagoras, but we can speak of it in
another way. An initiate might even today speak as Pythagoras did, but
the ordinary inhabitant of the earth in his physical body can speak of
the music of the spheres and of the cosmic life only when he experiences
in his soul, "Not I, but Christ in me", for the Christ within him has
lived in the music of the spheres and in the cosmic life. But we must go
through this experience in ourselves; we really must receive Christ into
our souls’ (R. Steiner, lecture Norrköping, 16.7.14, in Christ
and the Human Soul GA155 [RSP 1984], pp. 69-70). The harmony of the
spheres is heard ‘in deep sleep’ by the initiate ‘as
if they were the notes of trumpets and the rolling of thunder’ (R.
Steiner, An Esoteric Cosmology GA93a [St George Publications,
Spring Valley, New York 1978], lecture Paris 30.5.1906, reported by E.
Schure, p. 45. Steiner's proclamation of Christ rests on knowledge. By
the turn of the century, he could say: ‘The unfolding of my soul
rested upon the fact that I had stood in spirit before the Mystery of
Golgotha in most inward, most earnest solemnity of knowledge’ (R.
Steiner, The Course of my Life [New York, 1951], closing sentence
of Chapter XXVI, p. 276). ‘Spiritual science is concerned not
merely to talk about the Christ, but to declare what the Christ wishes
to say to people in our time, through the medium of human
thoughts.’ R. Steiner, lecture Zürich 4.2.19., in The Inner
Aspect of the Social Question GA193, (RSP 1950), p.
Steiner indicates what amounts to 84 (= 7 x 12) meditations for musicians: ‘You have in the fixed stars a wonderful cosmic instrument, and the players of this instrument of the zodiac and fixed stars are the gods of the planets beyond’ (lecture Dornach, 2.12.22, in The Inner Nature of Music GA283 [AP 1983], pp. 42-3); see also R. Steiner, The Gospel of St Matthew (especially lectures Berne, 3,4, 10 and 12.10.10), GAl23 (RSP 1965); R. Steiner, Universe, Earth and Man, lecture Stuttgart 12.8.08 [RSP 1987], p. 118ff. See also Appendices 3 and 5 in Vol. 2. Steiner was in all things concerned with living, creative activity. The arts are the means whereby inner activity and experience become outer expression: ‘to present the soul and spirit in fullest concentration ... is basically the highest ideal of all art.’ 19R. Steiner, GA277, op. cit., p. 320. The arts remind us of the meaning in our earthly destiny. Steiner's meditative verse, written for Marie Steiner at Christmas 1922, begins: ‘The stars once spake to man’ — but what leads to the future is ‘what man speaks to the stars’. 20R. Steiner, Verses and Meditations (RSP 1961), pp. 96-97 In this connection, compare Beckh's definition of ‘cosmic’: ‘the revelation of the spirit within the earthly realm’ (H. Beckh, Die Sprache der Tonart [Urachhaus, Stuttgart 1977], p. 20, English translation ‘The language of tonality’, in manuscript).
Albert Steffen expresses it clearly: there is a splitting of the way ‘concerning the life or death of music as such ... The whole of humanity stands before this alternative. There is no way back. Every individual has to go through it or come to grief.’ 21Albert Steffen, ‘Musik’ in Der Künstler and die Erfiillung der Mysterien (Dornach 1964), translation in the British Newsletter, forthcoming. An artist could base his life on this astonishing essay. In one of his most inspired articles, H. Pfrogner (a musicologist and authority on twentieth-century developments) characterizes the one path of experience as the way of ‘universal concord’, and the other as ‘ego concord’. 22H. Pfrogner, Chapter 17 in Zeitwende..., op. cit. The former path leads to universal spirituality, to a dissolving of the self. The latter path leads to a maturing of the self. Pfrogner accociates the former spirituality with the impulse emanating from the conspiracy of Jundi-shapur (seventh century AD - further details can be found in Ruland). 23Compare: ‘Absolute objectivity ultimately demands the sacrifice of the personality’ (Hauer, Vom Wesen des Musikalischen [Leipzig/Wien 1922], p. 40), with: ‘When the human being became a personality, God also had to become a personality in order to save him, to give him the possibility of rising again’ (R. Steiner, Egyptian Myths and Mysteries [AP 1971], p. 139). Another twentieth- century scientist, comparing his life to that of Goethe's, declared that his goal was ‘to penetrate into the secret of the personality’; the ‘central concept’ of his psychology is ‘the principle of individuation’ (C. G. Jung, Memories, Dreams and Reflections [Fontana, London 1967], pp. 232 and 235, italics original). Sir Julian Huxley summarizes Teilhard de Chardin, the scientist-seer: ‘persons are individuals who transcend their merely organic individuality in conscious participation’ (Introduction to Teilhard, The Phenomenon of Man [Collins 1959/Fontana 1965], p. 20/21). A vague pantheism is avoided: ‘Union differentiates’, and ‘the more "other" [grains of consciousness] become in conjunction, the more they find themselves as "self" as they make for the ‘Omega point’ of evolution (op. cit., p. 261/288). See Endnote 20 in Vol. 2. which echoes on in Islamic culture; the maturing spirituality he associates with the Christian west. All inclination to ‘dissolve the ego’, whose new richness of content was brought by Christ, spiritually subscribes to Arabism, whereas all steps toward strengthened responsibility follow the latter path. But this latter path leads to an extension of the diatonic system, ‘that resounding image of the human being pure and simple’ (Pfrogner).
The path to overcome materialism, further elucidated by Pfrogner, 24See H. Pfrogner, Zeitwende..., op. cit., and Lebendige Tonwelt, op. cit., for informed views on musical development right up to the twentieth century. will not be reached by avoiding the swamp of man's egotism and hastily ‘reaching for the stars’ (the arrangement of twelve) to the exclusion of the diatonic system (based on the number seven). Lurking in such a counter-reaction to romanticism (which, like Viennese classicism, arose in the age of materialism as a protest) is an implied denial of the Christ-event. ‘Christ Jesus inaugurated an evolution in human nature, based on the retention of the ego's full consciousness. He inaugurated the initiation of the ego,’ Steiner explains. 25R. Steiner, The Gospel of St Matthew, lecture Berne 9.10.10 (RSP 1965). Steiner explains the meaning of the atonement: ‘The One sufferred for all, so that through the world-historic initiation a substitute has been created for the old form of initiation ... Through inner vision, through true mysticism, community with Christ is possible’ (R. Steiner, Foundations of Esotericism, lecture Berlin, 27.9.05 [RSP 1983], p. 14) ‘With Christ,’ F. Rittelmeyer reminds us in his last book, ‘the whole orientation of humanity is changed. And from now on we no longer look back with longing to the past, to a "golden age" of the primal beginning, but look forward toward fulfilment, creating the future ...’ 26F. Rittelmeyer, Christus (Urachhaus, Stuttgart 1936), p. 38 (translation in MS). Rittelmeyer's mature relationship to John's Gospel, with its hidden music, informs his major works. For Rittelmeyer on music, see A. Stott: ‘Friedrich Rittelmeyer and the "Song of the earth's perfecting"’ in The Threshing Floor, May/June 1988 (Floris Books, Edinburgh). Another study on the Christ- Impulse is C. E. Raven, Jesus and the Gospel of Love (Hodder & Stoughton, London 1931/49), see especially Chapter XV, ‘Christ in the Twentieth Century’. There is a path through the swamp which has been trodden by composers such as Bartok, Hindemith, Messiaen, Martinu, Sibelius, Vaughan Williams, Shostakovich, Britten, Tippett, Hartmann, Henze, Schnittke, Gubaidulina, Pärt and many others (following in their own ways the example of the modern ‘Prometheus’, Beethoven). 27The following reference to Beethoven's entelechy is the only one that has come to my notice: ‘I was deeply impressed when a while ago I heard from a famous musician that in a personal conversation Rudolf Steiner said "Beethoven is Prometheus"’ (E. Kolisko, ‘Beethoven’, from a series of articles under the title ‘Reincarnation’ in The Modern Mystic, September 1938).
On more than one occasion, Steiner, speaking of the future of music, pointed to ‘finding a melody in the single note’. 28See Endnote 17 in Vol. 2. In the eurythmy lectures he points out that this does not mean listening to the acoustic ‘chord of overtones’ in a single note — on which Hauer and Hindemith base their theoretical work. It is a supersensible experience. One of the climaxes of the investigations of Pfrogner and H. Ruland (one of the former's successors), is the working out of Steiner's hints of a development of our tonal system. 29See H. Ruland, Expanding Tonal Awareness (RSP 1992).
Here mention should be made of two other pioneers in musical studies whose work is acknowledged by Ruland in his Expanding Tonal Awareness. Ernst Bindel developed the relationship between mathematics and music. 30Ernst Bindel, Die Zahlgrundlagen der Musik im Wandel der Zeiten (Stuttgart 1985); translation in progress ‘The numerical basis of music in its development’. (Without some mathematics there can be no responsible step towards a musical future.) The other pioneer is H. E. Lauer, 31H. E. Lauer, ‘The Evolution of Music through Changes in Tone-Systems’ in Cosmic Music, edited by J. Godwin (Inner Traditions, Rochester, Vermont 1989). Lauer also wrote Musik and Musiker (Selbstverlag, undated). whose account of the evolution of tonal systems has subsequently been considerably developed by Ruland.
We conclude with a suggestion regarding ‘artistic longing’, made by Steiner some months before the lectures translated here:
‘If someone feels that here on earth he does not fulfil what lies in his archetype, with its abode in the heavens, there arises in him an artistic longing for some outer image of that archetype. Whereupon he can gain the power to become an instrument for expressing the true relation of man to the world by becoming a eurythmist. The eurythmist says: All the movements which I ordinarily carry out here on earth do less than justice to the mobile archetype of man. To present the ideal human archetype I must begin by finding a way to unite with its movements.’ These movements, through which the human being endeavours to imitate in space the movements of his heavenly archetype, constitute eurythmy. 32R. Steiner, The Arts and Their Mission, lecture Dornach 27.5.23, GA276 (AP 1964).
Steiner wrote in his Notebook (see p. 131 below) for the present eurythmy course:
In the musical element the spatial human being is transformed into the non-spatial human being — the spiritual human being is the inner origin of the musical element.
Artistic people often think more naturally in evocative images, rather than with philosophical or technical concepts about ‘the spiritual human being’ or ‘the heavenly archetype’. And ultimately the inner life cannot express itself other than in images. Artistic readers looking for direction to surmount materialism may be able to grasp the necessity for decisive action more directly in the form of a picture. It may be appropriate to recall a passage from one of Selma Lagerlöf's novels to show the precision of Steiner's statement. An image of the Christ-child is kept in a basilica run by Franciscan monks. An Englishwoman plans to steal this image and replace it with a cheap imitation.
When the copy was ready she took a needle and scratched into the crown: ‘My kingdom is only of this world.’ It was as if she was afraid that she herself would not be able to distinguish one image from the other. And it was as if she wished to appease her own conscience. ‘I have not wished to make a false Christ-image. I have written in his crown: “My kingdom is only of this world”.’ 33Selma Lagerlöf, The Miracles of Antichrist (Gay & Bird, London 1899), p. 14.
Stourbridge, Michaelmas 1993