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Musical Literature. Its Theory and Practice

It is one of the most famous and infl uential ideas in the history of aesthetic theory: “ All art constantly aspires towards the condition of music.” 1Th is pronouncement appears in “The School of Giorgione,” an 1877 essay by the Oxford don Walter Pater that is nominally about painting, but is more broadly concerned with the interrelations and common aims of all the arts. Laying out the principles of true aesthetic appreciation, Pater begins by conceding that each art has “its own peculiar and untranslatable sensuous charm”. He also notes, however, that the arts “are able, not indeed to supply the place of each other, but reciprocally to lend each other new forces”. A sculpture can possess elements of tragic drama, a sonnet can call a picture to mind, and every artistic work that has ever been created attempts in some way to be like music, which Pater praises as “the typical, or ideally consummate art, the object of all that is artistic, or partakes of artistic qualities.