Eurythmy as Visible Speech
A2. The Position of Eurythmy in the Anthroposophical Society
From the ‘News Sheet’ (Nachrichtenblatt) Year I. No. 22, June 8th, 1924
During the time from the middle of May to the middle of June, Frau Marie Steiner with the eurythmists from the Goetheanum is undertaking a eurythmy tour through the towns of Ulm, Nurnberg, Eisenach, Erfurt, Naumberg, Hildesheim, Hanover, Halle and Breslau. The accounts of this journey, which I receive here in the Goetheanum, speak of a profound interest which the comparatively large audiences take in the art which has arisen out of the anthroposophical movement.
That here and there a few noisy disturbers bring discord into the otherwise very gratifying reception cannot alienate him who knows the obstacles which must always, in every sphere of life, be contended with when that to which people are accustomed is faced by something new.
One would like to expect from the Anthroposophical Society that it should bring its full inner support towards the endeavours which are active in the art of eurythmy. For only with such inner support can the warmth be sustained which is necessary for those who dedicate themselves to these endeavours.
It is not everywhere known within the Anthroposophical Society upon what foundations such endeavours are built up. At the Goetheanum, under the direction of Marie Steiner, constant work is going on in order to carry out all the practices necessary before the performances. In all this work great devotion is indispensable from all those taking part. And from outside it is not always apparent how wearing it is, in artistic work, to make tiring journeys from town to town, how fretting to unfold the artistic mood during these fatiguing journeys. To succeed in carrying out such endeavours in the available circumstances certainly needs much devotion and a true enthusiasm for the cause.
Eurythmy as an art is the fruit of the spiritual impulse working in the anthroposophical movement. That which lives in the human organisation as soul and spirit comes to visible manifestation through eurythmy. Its effect upon those watching it depends upon the inner perception that in the externally visible movements of people and groups of people soul and spirit visibly unfold themselves. He only who has the artistic conception of what lies in the audible word can unfold the right sense for how the audible can, in eurythmy, be transformed into the visible. One has, as it were, the human soul-being before one’s eyes.
And into this evident revelation of the human soul-being resound the arts of recitation and of music. It can be said that the art of recitation experiences in the strivings of eurythmy the essential conditions of its being. Recitation is, of course, connected in the first place with the word. But the word easily succumbs to the temptation to stray away from the artistic. It tends to become the content of understanding and feeling. It is, however, only the formation of this content which can have artistic effect. When recitation appears at the side of the eurythmic art of movement it has to unfold its formative character in full purity. It must reveal what can work formatively and musically in language. Necessary for eurythmy, therefore, was the development of the art of recitation, as this has been made possible by the devotion of Marie Steiner to this part of the anthroposophical movement. Within the Anthroposophical Society one should follow up what has arisen since the time when Marie Steiner, with a few eurythmists, began the work in 1914 in Berlin. Eurythmy could only unfold itself as a visible art of speech side by side with the artistically conceived audible art of speech. He only who has the artistic conception of what lies in the audible word can unfold the right sense for how the audible can, in eurythmy, be transformed into the visible. From the side of the public that only can be of interest which shows artistic merit. For the members of the Anthroposophical Society the point is intimately to share in the becoming of such a striving. For this is a part of the anthroposophical life.
In such a sharing the noblest human elements will be able to develop. And in such a development lies indeed one of the grandest tasks of the Anthroposophical Society.
Our musicians who place their artistic gifts at the service of eurythmy are bringing, I am convinced — through the way in which they do this and through the great enthusiasm which ensouls them in their work with the related art — they are bringing music forward in a quite special direction. I believe, indeed that the musical sense which lives in them finds its true liberation when placed in this connection. In any case, in the work of our musicians within the framework of eurythmy activity there is a deeply satisfying expansion of the musical into the general sphere of art. And its fruitfulness is shown again by the beautiful working-back upon the specifically musical.
From Marie Steiner’s efforts in the sphere of eurythmy there has arisen the Eurythmeum in Stuttgart. This is based upon the idea of a eurythmy conservatorium. Eurythmy in all its branches is taught there, lectures being also given in such auxiliary subjects as poetry, aesthetics, history of art, music theory, etc. All this in accordance with that artistic conception in the light of which eurythmy must stand. What has arisen in this way in Stuttgart carries within itself many possibilities of further upbuilding. It is deeply satisfying to see how many members from the circle of our society devote themselves with the warmest participation to the furtherance of eurythmy endeavours. This participation is in process of growing in a gratifying way. Through this there has entered into our movement a feature which is entirely consistent with the fundamental conditions of its life. For art stands midway between the revelations of the sense-world and spiritual reality. It is the aim of anthroposophy to place the spiritual world before mankind. Art is the reflection of the spirit in the sense-world. If art did not grow upon anthroposophical soil this could only result from some lack in this soil itself. In anthroposophical circles insight into this has been steadily increasing; it is to be hoped that such understanding will ripen more and more.