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Brahms and Nineteenth-Century Painting

Author(s): Leon Botstein


Source: 19th-Century Music, Vol. 14, No. 2 (Autumn, 1990), pp. 154-168
Published by: University of California Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/746200
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Brahms and Painting
Nineteenth-Century
LEON BOTSTEIN

After the death of Johannes Brahms in 1897, distinguished cosmopolitan citizen of the nine-
Hamburg and Vienna, respectively his birth- teenth century. He conveys the gravity, con-
place and his adopted home, commissioned templative earnestness, and self-discipline as-
monuments in his honor. Rudolf Weyr's 1908 sociated with a Brahms who, in the words of a
monument for the Ressel Parkin Vienna (plate Viennese critic writing in 1900, was "no revolu-
1) and Max Klinger's sculpture (plate 2), dedi- tionary, but ratherwas weighed down with the
cated exactly one year later in the Musikhalle in baggageof the entire spiritual musical feelings
Hamburg,each gave concrete expression to rad- of three centuries; like a fortress,protectedby a
ically different conceptions of the composer. barricadeof classical musical forms."2
Weyr's depiction is true to life and detailed.' Weyr exploited the traditional vocabularyof
Brahms,seated, is dressedcharacteristicallyas a public monuments. Comparable nineteenth-
century Viennese tributes to Beethoven (1880)
and Goethe (1900) were didactic in intent. The
cultivation of a sense of reverence within the
19th-CenturyMusic XIV/2 (Fall 1990). ? by the Regents of
the University of Califoria. citizenry representeda form of cultural patriot-
ism. Weyr placed Brahms high above the
The appropriatenessof looking at paintingin orderto under-
standBrahms'smusic was suggestedby the observationthat viewer, within a massive, plain architectural
Ludwig Wittgenstein made: "You can sometimes find a base, on a throne, as an object of adoration.
similarity between the styles of music and the style of the Nevertheless, the Viennese passerby was
poet who lived at the same time, or a painter."Wittgenstein also made to recognize the familiar and the
explicitly cited Brahms.He was thinking of the similarities
between the themes of Brahmsandthe writings of Gottfried nearly contemporary:Weyr'sBrahmsremained
Keller. See Ludwig Wittgenstein, Lectures and Conversa- an individualized depiction of a specific, indi-
tions on Aesthetics, Psychology and Religious Belief
vidual nineteenth-century citizen. But the fa-
(Berkeleyand Los Angeles, 1966),p. 32.
mous neighbor had also become an immortal.
'A programbooklet, which contains the history of the pro-
ject and its financing as well as an essay by Max Kalbeck,
was published for the unveiling ceremony. See Zur Enthiil-
lung des Brahms-Denkmalsin Wien. 7 Mai 1908 (Vienna, 2MaxGraf,"Brahms-Studie,"in WagnerProblemeund an-
1908). dere Studien (Vienna,1900),p. 101.

154
LEON
BOTSTEIN
Brahmsand
19th-Century
Painting

Plate 1: Rudolf Weyr,BrahmsMonument, Plate 2: Max Klinger,BrahmsMonument,


Vienna, 1908. HamburgMusikhalle, 1909.

The neoclassic figure of the muse of music Figures clasp directly onto him, in sleep, yearn-
(placedat a distance underneath and to the left), ing, and affection. A young cherubic figure has
strumming on a lyre (symbol of Orpheus)deco- its arms around him. The head of an older man
rated with a Greco-Romantragic mask, marked is resting at his feet. The vectors of Klinger'sex-
the symbolic transformation of status without pressionist realization are dynamic, uncon-
visual idealization. tained by any plea to conventional symmetry.
Weyr's aesthetic was self-consciously con- The composer is depicted as ageless, facing for-
servative; it eschewed any association with Jo- ward. His face is recognizable, but it is not en-
seph Maria Olbrich's novel and nearby Seces- tirely true to life. It combines youthfulness
sion building of 1897, Otto Wagner's more with old age.
recent architecture in the city, Jugendstil, Klinger's figure confronted the viewer with-
Klimt, or the 1908 Kunstschau, which featured out historical markersof time and place. The fo-
the young Kokoschka. In his sculpture, with its cus was inward, toward an imaginary, indeter-
unadorned base and painstaking symmetry, minate, but intense and intimate center.
Weyr, Vienna's leading academic sculptor, then Klinger'ssymbolic signaturefor Brahmswas his
sixty-two years old, connected Brahms directly idea of the organic. His vocabulary in the
to the reigning ethos of the Vienna in which Brahms monument was clearly modernist, in
they both had felt at ease. The choice of Weyras stark contrast to the historicist interior of the
the sculptor revealed an explicit intent to evoke Musikhalle.3 Here was Brahms the "progres-
the world of the mid-century Ringstrasseandits
celebration of the values of Bildung, culture, re-
finement, and the historical. 3Whenone comparesKlinger'sBrahmswith Klinger'sBeet-
In Hamburg,Klingersought to capturethe ro- hoven statue from 1902, one realizes that Klinger'sconcep-
mantic grandeurof Brahms. He surroundedthe tion of Brahmsstudiously avoidedreferencesto Classicism.
standing figure with evocations of turmoil and Klingerwas an apostle of the modem within the artworld of
German-speakingEurope. His work formed a bridge be-
boundlessness. The base acts like the frame of a tween the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. His some-
photograph, implying space beyond. Brahms is what more historicist andrefinedBeethovenwas the center-
clothed in drapelike forms that emerge expan- piece of the controversialBeethoven exhibit at the Vienna
Secession in 1902, for which Klimt painted his famous
sively from below, then spiral upward, domi- friezes and Mahler conducted an arrangementof partof the
nating the space aroundthe viewer, like nature. Ninth Symphony.

155
19TH
CENTURY
sive," the visionary who had inspired Klinger context of the visual arts.6 Writing to Viktor
MUSIC since the 1880s. Klinger captured the view of Widmann in 1894, after praising his friend Ju-
the composer expressed at the fin de siecle by lius Allgeyer's just-published biography of
the American critic Philip H. Goepp, who Feuerbachand describing his reaction to a col-
wrote: lection of Bocklin prints and to Klinger'swork,
Brahms commented, "Indeed, these three fill
one's heart and home, and certainly it is not a
At once an austerityand a mature,fully developed badtime in which we live where one can be glad
originality appear ... the muse of Brahms seems of three such figures.... I notice with what lux-
trulyPegasean... you do not see the palinglines of
older masters' influence. From the beginninghe ury we live and how carelessly we judge."7
seems to have his God-givenmanner,like a later Even though Brahms'sfriendshipwith Feuer-
Zeus-bornheroof song.... Thereis a giantpower,a bach was close and his admiration,at the end of
reposefulmasterywithoutstrain.... Themannerof his career, for Klinger explicit, the aesthetic,
his writingis the resultof his poeticpersonality...
there is ... in the originality of his melodic thought ambition, and career of Bocklin provide the
... a primal fragranceof motives in the pure crystal most compelling analogy to Brahms's life and
of spontaneousform,thatis like organicgrowth.4 work. In his analyses of Brahms's music, Max
Kalbeck consistently employed the imagery of
The cultural controversyarticulatedby these Bocklin's canvases. Arthur Smolian wrote in
two turn-of-the-century depictions of Brahms 1901: "Within the overall arenaof artistic crea-
concerned not only musical aesthetics but also tion in his time, Arnold Bocklin as painter and
the visual arts. The passion for art, for painting Bjonstjere Bjornson as poet were by far most
in particular, during the late nineteenth cen- comparable and equivalent, and also in such a
tury, especially in Vienna, nearly rivaled that comparison there appearsagain a gathering to-
for music among educated classes. In Brahms's gether of three greatB's."8Brahmshad a Klinger
immediate milieu, the interest in collecting, etching of one of Bocklin's landscapes hanging
in his music room in Vienna. In contrast to
visiting museums, and traveling to see art was
particularly high. Among the well-used books Wagner, Brahms evinced no great admiration
in Brahms's personal librarywere JacobBurck-
hardt's Cicerone and The Cultureof the Renais-
sance in Italy.5 Seeing and hearing,as activities
within discrete and social groups in history,
bear close comparison. The experiences of lis-
6See Walter Niemann, Brahms, trans. C. A. Phillips (New
tening, playing, and remembering can be pene- York, 1929), pp. 140-42; for a general view on the three
trated by examining the analogous experiences painters, see FriedrichHaack, Die Kunst des XIX Jahrhun-
of looking at individual paintings and visiting derts und der Gegenwartin GrundrissderKunstgeschichte,
ed. Wilhelm Liibke, vol. V (4th edn. Esslingen, 1913), pp.
exhibits and distant architecturalsites. 281- 94, 438-47, 523-41.
Three important contemporaryartists-An- 7JohannesBrahms,Briefwechsel,vol. VIII,ed. Max Kalbeck
selm Feuerbach,Arnold Bocklin, and Klinger- (Berlin,1915; rpt. Tutzing, 1974),pp. 137-38.
8Kalbeck,JohannesBrahms (rev.edns. Berlin, 1913-22) III,
were either associated with or often compared 394-95 (ThirdSymphony)andIV,28-29 (C-MinorTrio, op.
to Brahms.They offer contrasting occasions for 101); and Arthur Smolian, "Zur Einfiihrung,"in Johannes
close scrutiny of nineteenth-century music- Brahms, Kammermusik, vol. I (Leipzig, 1901). Smolian
(1856-1911) was a critic based primarily in Leipzig. His
and Brahms's music in particular-within the view is interesting consideringthe fact that he also wrote on
Wagnerand had ties with Bayreuth.On Bjomsonsee Georg
Brandes,ModerneGeister.LiterarischeBilderaus dem XIX
Jahrhunderts(Frankfurt,1901), pp. 417-74. Brandes,writ-
ing in 1882, echoed, perhaps unwittingly, the traditional
Brahms-Wagnercontrast in his Ibsen-Bjomsoncontrast in
which he wrote that Bj6mson was "a prophet,the passion-
4PhilipH. Goepp, Symphonies and Their Meaning (Phila- ate announcerof a better time to come ... a spirit of recon-
delphia, 1897),p. 376 and Symphonies and TheirMeaning. ciliation who wages war, without bitteress. It shines like
Second Series (Philadelphia,1902),pp. 283-84. an April sunlight on his poetry."Ibsen,in contrast,was the
5Kurt Hofmann, Die Bibliothek von Johannes Brahms violent revolutionarywhose work was cast in shadows (p.
(Hamburg,1974),p. 18. 462).

156
for the lionized historical painter Hans Makart nineteenth-century architects, from Theophil LEON
BOTSTEIN
(1840-84), Feuerbach'snemesis in Vienna.9 von Hansen to the young Otto Wagner. Brahmsand
The way audiences perceived music (e.g., the The vitality of the 1860s and 70s projected 19th-Century
into prominence a new generation of civic lead- Painting
expectations of the concert public), the role and
historical place of the artist, and commonplace ers, mostly professionals and men of commerce,
conceptions of meaning and beauty as they re- including Nikolaus Dumba, Franz Egger, the
lated to nineteenth-century music-in particu- families Todesco, and Ehprussi,whose success
lar that of Brahms-all become clearer when eventually earned some of them aristocratic ti-
parallel issues in the visual arts are considered. tles. The civic and economic boom strength-
But the context providedby Vienna needs to be ened the lure of Vienna's educational institu-
taken into account so that these issues of aes- tions with which Brahms was associated
thetics and culture are not construed artificially directly or through patterns of friendship: the
as autonomous of politics and society. In academies of art and technology, the university,
Brahms's Vienna, cultural controversies reso- and the conservatory. A new social elite
nated with social and political significance. emerged, made up of enthusiastic amateurs and
patrons of music and painting."'
II The Viennese milieu Brahms entered and
Owing to massive immigration and the ex- learned to love was this new and decisively up-
pansion of the city limits, Vienna was three per-middle class, a Grossbiirgertum distant
times as large when Brahms died as when he from the high aristocratic traditions of the city.
first arrived there.10But the change that came Brahms's cosmopolitan friends were proud of
over Vienna was not merely demographic.The their achievements in science and art. Brahms's
1860s saw the triumph of liberalism in city poli- world coincided with the membership of the
tics and in the monarchy, including the exten- Gesellschaft derMusikfreunde (on whose board
sion of freedoms and rights. A concurrent eco- he served and as whose concert directorhe had
nomic boom in Vienna was visible in a physical been in the 1870s). The Gesellschaft repre-
transformation-the creation of the Ring- sented a cross-section of two elites: on the one
strasse-perhaps more impressive than the re- hand, the families of professionals, musicians,
building of Paris. academics, writers, and men of business and
The systematic and syncretic expression of commerce; on the other, enlightened represen-
modernity that emerged in the new architec- tatives of the aristocracy.
tural face of Vienna was the self-conscious as- Between 1873 and 1897 a dramatic political
sertion of historical progressand synthesis. The shift away from liberalism helped define the Vi-
sense of the modem found expression in an ec- ennese world of aesthetic and cultural politics.
lectic historicism, in adaptations of Classical, Brahms's friends remained the committed po-
Renaissance, and Baroque forms. One could litical liberals who, like Theodor Gomperz (and
profitably compare Brahms's creative adapta- later Freud,who translated John StuartMill for
tion of Baroqueand Renaissance models (partic- Gomperz), professed an explicit admiration for
ularly in his a cappella choral work) and his re- the English traditions of thought and politics.'2
working of classical forms and compositional
procedures with the innovative use, during his
own lifetime, of historical models by Vienna's
"Leon Botstein, "Between Nostalgia and Modernity: Vi-
enna 1848 -1898" and "Music andIts Public:Vienna 1848-
1898," in Pre-ModernArt of Vienna 1848 -1898, ed. Linda
9Kalbeck,Brahms II, 409. If one comparesthe photographs Weintrauband Leon Botstein (Detroit, 1987).
and the catalogues of Klinger and Bocklin, the painting '2Gomperzdescribedan evening at Billroth'shome in 1893,
turns out to have been Bocklin's "Friihlingstag"(Spring at which many of Brahms'sfriendswere present, including
Day) from 1883. See H. W. Singer, Max Klingers Ra- Exner and Hanslick. Gomperz proudly calls them all, in-
dierungen,Stiche und Steindrucke(1909;New York, 1978), cluding Brahms, "readersand connoisseurs of my Greek
pp. 134-35, 69 (plate no. 328); and Rolf Andree, Arnold Thinkers";see RobertA. Kann,TheodorGomperz.Ein Ge-
Bocklin. Die Gemiilde (Basel,1977)p. 447 (plateno. 374). lehrtenleben im Biirgertumder Franz-Josefs-Zeit(Vienna,
'See A. L. Hickmann, Wien im XIX fahrhundert(Vienna, 1974), p. 248; see also Gomperz, Essays und Erinnerungen
1903). (Stuttgart,1905).

157
19TH Despite Brahms's personal admiration for Bis- educated urban elite with which Brahms was
CENTURY marck, he never associated himself with Vien- associated in Vienna. When Brahms'sfriendEli-
nese Christian Socialism or Austrian Pan Ger- sabeth von Herzogenbergsuggestedin 1885 that
manism. RichardHeubergerreportedBrahms's the E-MinorSymphony was too subtle andcom-
disdain for the new radical anti-Semitism of pact to communicate to any but a small world of
Georgvon Schoenererand KarlLueger.13 "smart and knowledgeable" people and might
Brahms's closest friends in Vienna included not reach "the people, that wanderin the dark,"
Goldmark,Brull, Epstein, Gomperz,Faber,Ehr- she was expressingconcern about a real division
bar,Wittgenstein, Griinfeld,and Hanslick-in- in the contemporary audience. The power and
dividuals who either were actually Jews or, de- greatness of Brahms's score might be apparent
spite religious conversion, were still considered to those who were like "explorersand scientists
such by anti-Semites. Daniel Spitzer, the great ... users of microscopes," but not to those
Viennese Jewish satirist of the Neue Freie "simple music lovers" who wanted merely to
Presse, wrote a biting and affectionate column relax and feel the emotion andbeauty of the mu-
describing Brahms in Ischl in 1889: the com- sic while listening, i.e., to the broad and often
poser's eating habits were used to poke fun at younger audience to which Wagnerhad already
the provincial Viennese gossip about his taste appealedsuccessfully.16
for the company of Jewish friends.'4 Brahms came to represent the aesthetics of a
Brahms's clear alliance with liberals and es- foreign, ironically "modern"antitraditionalism
tablished Jewishfamilies in Vienna is especially associated with modern commerce, science,
relevant to the aesthetic politics of the city. The university life, and parliamentarypolitics. Al-
Brahms-Wagnerdivision, the Brahms-Bruckner though the cliche has been to link Brahmswith
conflict, and the Makart-Feuerbachrivalry had the conservative, and Wagner(andhis admirers,
roots in the social and political divisions that Wolf and Bruckner)with the "music of the fu-
developed during the 1870s. Bruckner,for ex- ture," the social mirror of this aesthetic divi-
ample, was a rural provincial Austrian with sion presents the reverse. Brahms'saesthetic of
deep links to a new Catholic conservatism. His classical continuity was linked with the belief
social circle did not overlap with that of in scientific progress, social emancipation, the
Brahms. Hugo Wolf's vitriolic attacks on modern nation state, and the transformationof
Brahmsin the 1880s had decisive political over- traditional ways of life.
tones. Brahms was associated with a liberal es- In Vienna, what made Wagner(and Makart)
tablishment that seemed at odds with a new, so appealing-in addition to the evident inno-
radically conservative movement that sought vativeness and genius (which Brahmsfreely ad-
to establish a political and cultural alternative mitted and admired)-was the regressive ap-
to the cosmopolitan liberal conceits of Vienna's peal to premodernmyths of community and he-
cultural, literary, and academic elite.'5 roism and (in Wagner's case) a polemical (if
The new antiliberal radicalism had its popu- disingenuous) attack on the instruments of mo-
list aspect, which Wagner exploited, particu- dernity, including capitalism, the contempo-
larly in his call for a new and more rooted audi- rarycity, and modem journalism. Brahmsmar-
ence, one independent of precisely the kind of veled at modern and changing Vienna. He
carried with him from Hamburg a healthy re-
gard for trade and commerce (as seen in his
13Brahmsdid display, however, strong antipathy for the friendship with Arthur Faberand Viktor Miller
growthin the numbersof immigrantEasternEuropeanJews
zu Aichholz) and admired science and technol-
in Vienna, a sentiment sharedby Vienna's older and politi- ogy. He coveted his contacts with music histo-
cally liberal Jewish community. This is evident in the re- rians who were in the forefrontof moder schol-
marks recountedby RichardHeubergerin Erinnerungenan
JohannesBrahms (Tutzing, 1971),p. 82.
'4Daniel Spitzer, Letzte Wiener Spazierginge (Vienna,
1894), pp. 266-67. On Brahms and Spitzer, see Kalbeck,
BrahmsII,426-27.
"SSeean alternativeview in FrankWalker,Hugo Wolf(New "6Johannes Brahms,Briefwechsel, vol. II, ed. Max Kalbeck
York, 1968),pp. 153-58. (Berlin,1921;rpt. Tutzing, 1974),pp. 86-87.

158
arship, and with university professors such as andpolitical dimensions of the conflict were de- LEON
Billroth and Exner. (Brahms once was aston- cisive. The divisions represented segments BOTSTEIN
Brahmsand
ished at the respect accorded by common Ital- within Viennese public whose antagonisms 19th-Century
ians in Rome to Theodor Mommsen, the great deepened and renderedextreme what otherwise Painting
historian-a phenomenon he doubted would might have remained a serious matter of aes-
have occurredamong Germans.17) thetics. The irony of the Brahms-Wagnerdebate
Wagner, on the other hand, allied himself remains in the reversal of social and aesthetic
with the rarifiedworld of Bayreuth,Venice, the connotations, particularlyon the matter of pro-
fantastic castles of Ludwig II, and a race-based gressivism and conservatism.
German nationalism foreign to Brahms'spatri-
otism. What gave Wagnerismin Vienna its rep- III
utation as the ideology of the new and future The aesthetic questions that preoccupied
was its critique of progress,science, and liberal- painters of Brahms's generation derived in part
ism. It became the instrument through which a from the debate over the nature of Classical and
younger generation challenged the domination Romantic art that occurred in the late eigh-
maintained by its elders-a hegemony that ap- teenth and early nineteenth centuries. The de-
peared intellectually bankruptand neither eco- bate was set largely by JohannJoachimWinck-
nomically nor politically effective in the light of elmann in his Thoughts on the Imitation of the
the economic and political crises after 1873 in Painting and Sculpture of the Greeks of 1755.
Vienna and the monarchy. Winckelmann's opening words, "good taste,"
The contrasts can be seen in differences in indicated that his concern was both the creation
tastes in the visual arts, and in the enthusiasm and the perception of art. "The only way for us
Brahms and his friends-Feuerbach, Billroth, to become great,"he wrote "andindeed-if this
and Hanslick among them-had for Italy and is possible-inimitable, is by imitating the an-
its landscape, which they associated with clas- cients." Classical art possessed for Winck-
sical antiquity and the Renaissance. The late elmann "a noble simplicity and tranquil gran-
nineteenth-century liberal intellectuals and the deur, both in posture and expression." He
Deutsch-R6mer group of German painters ex- arguedthat
tended Goethe's spiritual pilgrimage to Italy to if the artist. . lets the Greekruleof beautyguidehis
their own lives.'8 Wagner's adopted past was hand and senses, he is on the surest route to success-
Teutonic. Insofar as an Italian past existed for ful imitation of nature. The concepts of totality and
him, it was connected through the tradition of perfectionwhichhe discoversin the natureof antiq-
Liszt to religiosity and mysticism andnot antiq- uity will refineandgiveconcreteshapeto the diffuse
uity or Burckhardt's Renaissance. Bruckner conceptshe abstractsfrom the natureof today:he
will learnto combinethe beautieshe findsin it with
drew no inspiration whatsoever from Italy. ideal beauty, and, with the help of the sublime forms
When Brahms scholars note with uncanny whichareconstantlypresentto him,he will thenbe
regularity that the Brahms-Wagnerconflict was ableto legislateforhimself.
more about disciples and the polemics of cul-
tural politics than about music, they are indeed For Winckelmann, artists must express their
right. Even where fundamental aesthetic issues ideas using "reason," in either the allegoric or
were at stake, as in the Brucknercase, the social the poetic-an admonition intended not only
for the artist, but for the "connoisseur"(Kenner)
and "mere amateur"(blofie Liebhaber).19
'7See Christian Martin Schmidt, Johannes Brahms und
seine Zeit (Regensburg, 1983), pp. 45-75; Tibor Kneif,
"Brahms-einburgerlicherKunstler"and Hans J. Froehlich,
"Freundeund Bekannte,"in JohannesBrahms. Leben und 9gJohann Joachim Winckelmann, "Gedankeniiber die Na-
Werk,ed. Christiane Jacobsen(Wiesbaden,1983),pp. 9-19 chahmung der griechischen Werke in der Malerei und
and 51-74; Briefwechsel,vol. VIII,155-56. W. F. von Exner Bildhauerkunst,"in Winckelmanns Werke (Berlin, 1982),
(1840 -1931) was Vienna'sleading academicengineer. pp. 2, 11-12, 17; the translationis in GermanAesthetic and
'8Forthe best discussion of the German-Romans,see Chris- Literary Criticism: Winckelmann, Lessing, Hamann,
toph H. Heilmann, "In uns selbst liegt Italien": Die Kunst Herder, Schiller, Goethe, ed. H. B. Nisbet (Cambridge,
der Deutsch-Roemer (Munich, 1987). 1985),pp. 33, 38, 42, 54.

159
19TH The answer of Romanticism in the early The German painters of the nineteenth cen-
ENTURYC nineteenth century to this neoclassic ideology tury struggled with the seemingly contradic-
was directed at Classicism's ideal conception of tory imperatives of Classicism and Romanti-
beauty. For the Romantic, totality and perfec- cism. Realism was redefined to include the
tion were not a static synthesis. Perhaps the dialogue between artist and the objectof percep-
most trenchant critique of Winckelmann and tion. Like Goethe, many looked to Italy-to its
neoclassicism was made by Hegel. Although heritage and landscape-as a reaction against
Hegel agreedthat in the Classical era there had Romanticism. At the same time, the painters of
been a unique symbiosis with the spirit of the the mid-nineteenth century acknowledged the
age and external nature, he arguedthat the con- primacy of the subjectivity and the inwardness
cept of imitation and a stable logic of good taste of the lyrical. They sought inspiration from a
were untenable since the careerof reason in his- differentItaly, not that of Greco-Romanculture
tory was progressive. The classical aesthetic but medieval and early Renaissance painting.
ideal of totality and perfection, by necessity, The most dramatic consequence of the struggle
dissolved through implicit deficiencies in clas- to reconcile the divergent pressures of Classi-
sical religion and society. cism and Romanticism was the emergence of
ForHegel, beauty was contingent on history. the Nazarene painters, primarily Friedrich
The stable "totality" of the aesthetic ideal of Overbeck (1789-1869), who sought both to
Classicism devolved into an aesthetic impera- achieve an inner spiritual content to painting
tive for modernity, "the double totality of (a) through religion and to recapturean alternative
subjective being in itself and (b)the external ap- Classicism comparable to that of pre-
pearance, in order to enable the spirit to reach Raphaelite painting.
through this cleavage a deeperreconciliation in
its own element of inwardness." Romantic art, IV
for Hegel, represented the conflict between a Of the three German painters linked with
subjective "spiritual" realm and the empirical Brahms, it was Feuerbachwho sought most in-
external world, freed from any superimposed tensely to follow the stringent aesthetic of
idealization. The conflict between artist and Winckelmann and yet achieve, with Classical
nature, between aesthetic impulse and external restraint, the lyric content of Romanticism
reality-the consciousness of a tension- without giving excessive weight to subjective
framed the character of Romanticism. The ab- inwardness. He followed more the traditions of
sence of such tension in antiquity was no longer the Nazarenes than those of Romantic painters
relevant to the modern artist. such as Moritz von Schwind (1804-71), who
The emancipation of the spirit and its "eleva- embraced the folk and northern historical and
tion" to itself were, for Hegel, the "fundamental mythological traditions with which one can as-
principle of romantic art." "Innersubjectivity" sociate Carl Maria von Weber, E. T. A. Hoff-
was the goal to be achieved by the artist and the mann, and later Wagner. Feuerbach, like
viewer. Romantic art celebrated "depth of feel- Brahms, sought to utilize the external forms of
ing" (Innigkeit)which, through the work of the Classicism to express a contemporary inner
artist, was emancipated from the object de- sensibility. But Feuerbach's success was lim-
picted. The object became the mechanism, in ited, despite the seductive luminosity and
painting, for the real subject of Romantic art: beauty of his canvases. The paintings retained,
subjective expression defined as a "perception perhaps too strongly, the external calm of
of itself alone, or as a musical sound as such, Winckelmann without the dynamic tension
without objectivity or shape." Therefore,Hegel
concluded, "the keynote of romantic art is mu-
sical, and if we make the content of this idea de-
terminate, lyrical. "20
140-41; the translation used is in Hegel, Aesthetics, vol. I,
trans. T. M. Knox (Oxford,1975),pp. 502, 518, 527-28. See
20GeorgWilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Vorlesungen iiber die also Erich Heller, The Artist's Journey into the Interior
Aesthetik, vol. II (Frankfurt,1970), pp. 106-07; 128-29; (New York, 1965),pp. 101-18.

160
LEON
suggested by either the religiosity of the Naza- BOTSTEIN
renes or the ideology of Romanticism.21 Brahmsand
Feuerbach was an unlikely companion for 19th-Century
Painting
Brahms. His personality-with its weakness
for money and luxurious clothes-was more
akin to that of Wagnerin its intense desire to es-
cape from the drab respectability of middle-
class style.22Like Wagner, Feuerbachwas vain
and a fanatical polemicist on his own behalf.
Only Feuerbach's deep loyalty to his step-
mother and a few friends recalled characteris-
tics of Brahms'spersonality.23
Feuerbach had a brief three-year sojourn in
Vienna as a teacher in the 1870s, during which
he alienated most of his colleagues, railed
against the philistine Viennese taste, and be-
lieved himself to be the object of conspiracies.
Feuerbach sought to unmask the fraud of Ma-
kart, Vienna's leading painter. He could not
even get along with those who might have been
allies, such as the architect Theophil Hansen,
for whose design of the Academy of Fine Arts
Feuerbachhad been chosen to paint ceiling and
wall murals. Although Brahms had warned
Feuerbach about coming to Vienna, the disap-
pointment was severe.24
But when one looks at Feuerbach's work, Plate 3: Anselm Feuerbach,
Brahms's enthusiasm becomes comprehen-
Ricordo di Tivoli, 1867.
sible. Feuerbach utilized classical narratives
(andonly a few religious ones) as subjects, not as
allegories. The paintings achieve a stillness and
intensity together with an elegant and remark-
able virtuosity of draftsmanship. Feuerbach's is achieved in which the inner sensibility is
neoclassicism is evident in the execution of stressed; hence the clear foreground/back-
drapery, and the near-sculptural clarity of ground structure and the avoidance of evident
figures. The use of color is focused but re- ornamental or decorative elements, particu-
strained, forcing the eye to notice form and larly in the use of color.
composition. A conception of surface and depth The figures never look at the viewer, but are
caught in contemplation. The time depicted is
unspecific; there is little motion or direction.
The stillness is profound, particularly in the
21AnselmFeuerbach(1829-80), Gemalde und Zeichungen. Iphigenia series, derivedfrom Goethe's tragedy,
Texthefte zur Austellung (Karlsruhe,1976). and the Ricordo di Rivoli (1867) (plate3). Feuer-
22Elisabeth Krimmel, "Arold B6cklin-Ein Portrat," A.
Bocklin 1827-1901, vol. I (Darmstadt,1977),p. 158 (hereaf- bach used nature as background-as a bucolic,
ter cited as Bocklin-Darmstadt). benign, neo-Renaissance frame. He captured
3GermanMasters of the Nineteenth Century (Metropoli- the intense contemplativeness of his subjects
tan Museum of Art: New York, 1981),p. 100; see also H. W.
Singer, Zeichnungen von Anselm Feuerbach (Leipzig,
within the structure of a classical grace and
1912). calm. The dramatic is, so to speak, contained in
24See Julius Allgeyer, Anselm Feuerbach, ed. Carl the frame of the painting and frozen. Feuerbach
Neumann, vol. II (2nd edn. Berlin, 1904), pp. 218-88. This also avoided the maudlin and sought, success-
book was written by anotherfriendof Brahms.Brahmsliked
the book, which first came out in 1894. fully, to evoke the lyrical. By using the classical
161
19TH and the idealized poetic as subjects, he avoided the sensual, Wagnerplayed to a crowd of dilet-
CENURIUY any hint of vulgarity. tantes and philistines.25
Indeed, Feuerbach, using anticlassical Upon Feuerbach's death in 1880, the Vien-
models of beauty-his mistresses Nanna Risi nese writer Ludwig Speidel wrote:
and Lucia Brunacci-generated the sensibility
of ideal beauty through a realism that hinted None of his contemporaries solvedmorebeautifully
at contemporaneity. Although the narrative the greatpainterlyproblemof the present,to marry
turned away from the viewer and also from ac- drawingand compositionof style with the lure of
tive narration, it suggested a lyric, albeit sub- color;no one transcended moredeeplythe onesided-
ness of contemporary trendsashe, in thathe utilized
merged, subjectivity. Feuerbach generally the experienceof the ancients,andin addition,as the
avoided historicism's use of subject matter that ancientsthemselves,adheredto nature.26
re-createda seemingly realistic image from the
recordedpast. By using myth and poetic subject This might not have been an inappropriateas-
matter, and by eschewing historicist illusion- sessment of Brahms'sstruggleto command nor-
ism, Feuerbachevoked the timelessness of the mative notions of musical form and technique
lyrical. and avoid superficiality of effect through color-
It was Feuerbach'srejection of historicism- istic means.
the use of the narratives of the past to re-create What distinguished Brahms from his friend,
the historical-that distinguished his work however, was the composer's clearly more pow-
from that of Makart. Feuerbach'scontempt for erful originality and Romantic impulse. When
Makart paralleled Brahms's differences with compared with Brahms, Feuerbach's work is
Wagner. (Makartwas one of Wagner'sfavorite tame and far too neoclassical. Its relationship to
and most admired painters.) Feuerbachsaw in the viewer is distant and deracinated.We sense
Makart, and others in the school of historical a cool aestheticism, a restraint whose impera-
painting in which Makart played a key role tive goes beyond the self-conscious imitation of
(such as the two great personalities of the Mu- classical models. The expressive subjectivity
nich school of historical painting Karl von Pi- and the directional engagement of the audience
loty [1826-86] and Franz von Lenbach [1836- in Brahmsare absent from Feuerbach'swork.
1904]), the failure to penetrate the surface of It was no accident that Brahmschose a Schil-
realism, a technical impotence to realize figures ler poem to set to music in his Nanie, op. 82,
and construct forms, and a blindness to the true written in 1880 as a memorial to Feuerbach.
nature of classical beauty. The intense yet formal beauty of the work, the
Nineteenth-century historicism and neo- neoclassic vocal writing, the symmetry, and the
classicism, despite overlaps, are too often con- wholly classical imagery employed by Schiller
fused. The cheapness of Makart'sstrategy-the resulted in a musical evocation of the idea that,
use of mere monumentality and color for effect despite the inevitable death of beauty and per-
and to startle the viewer-inspired Feuerbach's fection, in the memory of lamentation there re-
ire. What Makart lacked was the capacity to mains the triumph of the aesthetic over the
evoke, through painterly means, both the ideal common. In this work, Feuerbach'sstruggle to
of beauty and the subjective expressivepower of embody the static classical ideal of the moment
the external reality he sought to depict in the of the beautiful, the contemplative, finds its su-
name of realism. The work, through its subject periormusical equivalent.27
and execution, became trivial. It was essentially
vulgar and pandered to "the military and un-
satisfied women... ." Raphael would say:
"Psyche, where art thou?" Feuerbach'scritique
took on the precise vocabulary and perspective
of Brahms's supporters who attacked Wagner. 25Ibid.,pp. 450-59.
Wagner,it was argued,reducedthe musical to a 26LudwigSpeidel, "Anselm Feuerbach,"in WienerFeuille-
tons (Vienna,1989),p. 448.
handmaiden to excite the superficialfeelings of 27SeeHans Gal, JohannesBrahms:Werkund Pers6nlichkeit
the viewer. By panderingto the decorative and (Frankfurt,1961),pp. 158-59.

162
V As Giorgio de Chirico pointed out, Bocklin's LEON
BOTSTEIN
Feuerbach came to suspect shortcomings in work bears little true resemblance to Wagner Brahmsand
his painting, particularlywhen he encountered and Wagnerism: 19th-Century
Painting
Bocklin, his younger contemporary.Bocklin in
turn regardedFeuerbach'swork as having failed Whilein Wagnereverythingis undetermined, every-
to go beyond the decorative. He wrote, "Feuer- thingmoves andremainsunclear;while in Wagner,
bach aspired to a great deal, but did not always the powerto conjureup the cosmicis basedon un-
grasp the essential issue . .. what is lacking is definedand inaccessiblesounds,the metaphysical
the main thing, life itself! "28Despite such criti- powerof Bocklinrests,fromthe start,alwayson the
cism and the poor relationship between the two precisionandclarityof a phenomenonclearlyestab-
lishedfromthe beginning.He neverpaintedfog, or
painters, the Feuerbach-Bocklincontrast can be outlineswhoseedgesareobscured.Exactlyin thisare
placed alongside a comparison between Ludwig bothhis classicismandgreatnessto be seen.33
Spohrand Brahmsin orderto illuminate the dif-
ference between the struggle with neoclassi-
The comment aptly fits Brahms. Bocklin was
cism in early musical Romanticism and in
Brahms's music.29 reputed to have said that the object of painting
was "to touch the eye, without having to ex-
Brahms visited Bocklin's studio in 1885,
where he saw the painting Centaur at the Vil- plain or describe the effect with words"; to
evoke a "felt impression," like instrumental
lage Blacksmith.30 The two men had much in
common. Both admiredItalian Renaissance and music, without having to "renderanything ex-
Classical art. Both were influenced by the aes- plicit."34
The aesthetic ambition of Bocklin's work can
thetic perceptions of Burckhardt.Both resisted
be understood, as Christoph Heilmann has ar-
French influences and were profoundly-and
gued, through the credo of one of his admirers,
self-consciously-German artists. Not surpris- the leading neo-Hegelian aesthetician Friedrich
ingly, both found little response in France for Theodor Vischer (1807-87). Vischer was a
their work and for their form of neoclassicism.31
friend of Paul Heyse, a writer whom Brahms
Bocklin, like Brahms and unlike Wagner and
particularly admired and who was also a friend
Feuerbach, delighted in modernity. He was, of Bocklin.35Vischer wrote that the object of
among other things, a serious tinkerer who de-
voted considerable time trying to realize the painting was "to communicate with nature and
tradition ... so that we become one with the
dream of human flight in airplanes. Like
whole eternity of our inner world ... which we
Brahms, B6cklin died as the most revered and
successful living German artist of his medium, possess more than the ancients, although once
again naively, so that we can become objective
explicitly rankedwith the Classical masters.32 human beings as they were."36
Bocklin transformed the classical subject
matter. His paintings draw on classical myth,
but their narratives unleash a novel and often
28Astudent of Bocklin reportedthat Feuerbachdoubtedthe imaginary psychic dynamic. In their execution,
value of his own work when confronted with Bocklin's the paintings display a vigorous quality that
paintings; see EberhardRuhmer, "B6cklin-Standortund challenges the flatness of the surface and static
Ausstrahlung,"in Bdcklin-Darmstadt,p. 44.
29OnBrahms'sview of Spohr,see Gal, JohannesBrahms,pp. frame of the painting. Nature is used as a force
35-36; an even more apt comparisonmight be a Mendels-
sohn-Brahmscomparison,except forthe fact that Feuerbach
and Mendelssohn cannot be regardedas equivalents, given
Mendelssohn's fargreaterachievement.
30Andree,Arnold B6cklin, pp. 478-79.
31ScottMessing, Neoclassicism in Music. Fromthe Genesis
of the Concept throughthe Schoenberg/StravinskyPolemic 33Andree,Arnold Bocklin, p. 47.
(Ann Arbor, 1988), pp. 14-15; "B6cklin-Standort und 34Hevesi,Alt-Kunst, p. 500.
Ausstrahlung,"pp. 50-51. 35Seethe number of well-used books by Heyse in Brahmsli-
32SeeLudwigHevesi, Alt-Kunst, Neu-Kunst (1909;Vienna, brary;in Hofmann, Die Bibliothek, pp. 52-53.
1986),pp. 493-500; andH. W. Sabais,"BocklinsTraumvon 36ChristophH. Heilmann, "Zu Amold Bocklins kunstleri-
Fliegen,"in B6cklin-Darmstadt,pp. 140-43. scher Individualitat," in Bocklin-Darmstadt,p. 40.

163
19TH reciprocal to the figures, not as backgroundbut In contrast to Feuerbach'swork, the distance
CENTURY as the medium of expression of the painter. The between viewer and object is closed; the viewer
use of light and color is neither decorative nor enters empathetically into a subjective confron-
realistic, but suggestive of an inner attitude. In tation with a scene, an event, a struggle, a mo-
this sense Bocklin prefigured German expres- ment, an experience. Therefore the mythology,
sionism. until the paintings made at the very end of
In traditional subjects, including landscapes Bocklin's life, is also strippedof violence. B6ck-
but primarily mythological or poetic subjects, lin's famous paintings of Tritons and Centaurs
the Hegelian separation between man and na- possess a pacified, aestheticized, if not highly
ture is evident, as is the subsequent transforma- erotic, version of dangerand evil (plate 4).
tion of both through their interaction. Bocklin's But it was the transformation of nature
legendary paintings entitled Isle of the Dead through painterly vision, the reworkingof tradi-
symbolized the parallel tension between dream, tional forms and compositions, and the consis-
imagination, and external reality. The intense tent depiction of dynamic sentiment-the in-
interior emotion captured by Bocklin permits ternal consciousness of the subject with a hint
the viewer to contemplate analogous, nearly au- of the subconscious-that appealedto Brahms.
tobiographical, sentiments. The scenes are not The observerwas drawn into this subjective ex-
symbolic, but suggestive, so that in the process perience and could re-experienceit as well. Both
of seeing, the viewer experiences a parallel con- Brahms and Bocklin eschewed decoration and
templative sensibility. conventional narrative.The evidence of passion

Plate 4: Arnold Bocklin, Im Spiel der Wellen (Inthe Play of the Waves), 1883.
164
and the extension of the Romantic use of light Vischer's "eternity of our inner world." Inner LEON
BOTSTEIN
and color in transformingwhat one can see were subjectivity had become not only the object of Brahmsand
accomplished by Bocklin in a new fashion, all art, but its implied subject. Art had become an 19th-Century
contained within an unmistakable debt to clas- act of psychological fantasy through the exter- Painting
sical models and a conception of nature as fo- nal medium of a personalized, mythologized
rum for the contemplation of inner subjectivity. Classicism and expressionistic landscapepaint-
This was comparable to Brahms's use of har- ing.
mony, his development of small motivic cells
into large expanses, and his clear utilization of VI
variation where the object remained recogniz- It was ultimately Klinger's work that
able. Brahms'scapacity to inspire in the listener achieved this effect most successfully for
diverse senses of space and depth, as well as the Brahms himself. Here the entire content of the
defined but explosive emotional content of the image is subjective and psychological experi-
largermusical narrative,mirroredB6cklin's im- ence. Through Klinger,one can approachthe in-
pact on his audience. tense Romanticism of Brahms'swork framedby
Tradition is used by Bocklin and Brahmsdia- an overt debt to Classicism. As Brahms wrote
lectically to demarcate originality. Memory of Klinger in 1893, "Seeing them [Klinger's im-
previous models is evoked upon hearing and ages] it is as if the music resoundedfurtherinto
seeing. The result is an acute awareness of expe- eternity, and everything that I might have
rience and time and the essential subjective dis- wished to say was said, more clearly than music
tinctiveness of the object of contemplation. can, and still so filled with secrets and forebod-
B6cklin's use of tradition permits the viewer to ing."38In that telling reference to secrecy and
engage in parallel inner reflection and not be- foreboding,Brahmsalluded to the power of mu-
come prisoner to the illusions of realism or the sic to be content-free in the ordinarysense, yet
lure of theatrical or dramaticnarration.The ob- communicate the deepest and most hidden sen-
ject of art has as both its content and its purpose timents. Particularly as a public art form, the
the extension of highly individualized subjec- capacity of music to speak to and triggerthe un-
tive reflection. These qualities were evident in ending sensibility of intimacy, without threat
the two paintings we know Brahms knew, par- of revelation, reflected Brahms's own uncanny
ticularly the image he hung on his wall. In these merger of external formalism and internal ex-
several senses Bocklin was as distinct from the pressiveness and specific originality. For
historical painters, particularly Piloty, Makart, Brahms,Klingershowed that "all art is the same
and his more direct rival Lenbach, as was and speaks the same language"despite the fact
Brahmsfrom Liszt and Wagner.37 that visual art, through its relation to perceived
The concentration on aesthetic perception nature, was on the surface more precise than
and subjective feeling and contemplation, music. Brahms,without success, sought to con-
finally, reflect a depoliticized conception of the vert the more conservative Clara Schumann
function of art. The retreat from historical real- and Joseph Joachim to his enthusiasm for
ism or from genre painting and conventional re- Klinger. Hanslick also could not be won over,
alism mirrored a particular conversation with despite Brahms'sadvocacy.39
an educated audience. B6cklin's use of myth, as
Brahms'sof established formal models, counted
on the capacity of the viewer or hearerto be able
38JohannesBrahms an Max Klinger(Leipzig,1924),p. 7; on
to transform the vision of the tradition and fol- Klinger, see J. K. Varnedoe, The Graphic Works of Max
low the subjective reformulation by the artist. Klinger (New York, 1977); and Max Klinger 1857-1920
The object of this exchange was the transcen- Catalogue (Rotterdam,1978).
39ClaraSchumann-JohannesBrahms:Briefe aus den fahre
dence of reality and the everyday,a journeyinto 1853-1896, ed. BertoldLitzmann,2 vols. (Leipzig,1927),II,
538, 570, 574; also Brahms's letter to Joseph Joachim in
Brahms,Briefwechsel,vol. VI,ed. AndreasMoser(1908;rpt.
Tutzing, 1974), pp. 292-94. See also EduardHanslick, "Jo-
37Lenbach'sportraits of Wagnerand Bismarckare particu- hannes Brahms. Die letzten Tage," in Am Ende des
larly well known. fahrhunderts(Berlin,1899),pp. 397-98.

165
19TH Klinger,a follower and passionate admirerof perception available to the listener in the dense
MUSIC Bocklin, executed four works directly con- but comprehensible surface of Brahms'swork.
nected with Brahms.The first was the 1880 cy- The shift in mood in Klinger's work is analo-
cle Amor und Psyche, which was dedicated to gous to the contrasting sections in Brahms's
Brahms. In the 1880s Klingerdesigned the cov- Schicksalslied, op. 54, which inspired Klinger.
ers for Brahms'ssong collections ops. 96 and 97. In the Prometheus series of Brahmsphantasie,
In the early 1890s, Klingerdid his Brahmsphan- Klinger utilized the narrative moment in a dy-
tasie cycle, which appeared in 1894. Last, namic manner, engaging the viewer in the sub-
Brahms reciprocatedby dedicating his op. 121, jective response rather than in the content of
the Four Serious Songs, to Klinger, who de- the narrative (plate 5). The concentration on
signed the first edition for Simrock.40 psychic states permitted contemplation by the
Contemporaries such as Brandes (an author viewer that sparked, as in music, a rehearing
Brahms admired) saw in Klinger a Romanti- and the re-creation of a fragmentaryand varia-
cism, a gift for fantasy combined with a narra- ble sense of memory and the passageof time.
tive realism, a naturalism that betrayeda keen Klinger reached toward symbolism, depict-
eye for the psychic and realistic detail of experi- ing the contrast between the world of the gods
ence. What attracted Brahms, however, was and the natural world by using contrasts of light
Klinger'sBocklin-like mixture of the subjective and dark. The restrictive medium of black and
experience with nature: the placement of the white allowed a greater intensity of response.
emotional contemplative experience within a Brahms's appreciation for Klinger's control of
framework that altered both the characterand small detail and its relationship to the develop-
the meaning of the recognizable.41 ment of visual contrast and form over the span
But unlike B6cklin, Klinger attempted to of a composition mirrored his own prejudices
achieve a musical effect through art. Not only regardingcompositional strategy. The dual ef-
did he deepen the psychological and make it the fect of virtuosic detail and sharply delineated
overt subject; he also worked in series of im- form in both Brahms and Klingerwas intended
ages, which individually and together re- to evoke the deeper, larger, and central senti-
counted a narrativewhose subject was more the ments of life without losing specificity or dete-
inner transformation of feeling than the actual rioratinginto cliches.
sequence of events. Perceived time was placed In those images in which music played a di-
in a dialectic with fictional sequences. Each of rect role, Klingerevoked the impact of Brahms's
Klinger's images involved the psychic, open- music. The combination of mythic images,
ended subject of the human imagination. Every landscape, and realistic portrayals of nine-
landscape explicitly suggested the inner state of teenth-century scenes permittedhim to capture
the artist and his audience. In this, Klinger the imaginary processes he believed music to
sought to achieve an effect parallel to the hear- evoke. In "Accorde" (see plate 6) and "Evoca-
ing of music. tion," Klingerrealized four dimensions of com-
Klinger'sBrahmsphantasie captures the suf- munication, each with a specific temporality
fering within the moment of experience.42Mul- and time clock. The player depicted in modern
tiple layers of distance and sentiment are dress, seated at a piano, possesses an immediate
conveyed, much like the multiple layers of audience, implied and realized, both in the pic-
ture and outside it. This is the first exchange.
Second, the "depicted" music unlocks for the
viewer and spectator within the picture a vision
40SeeMargritL. McCorkle, JohannesBrahms. Thematisch of subjective imagination. That dreamworld is
bibliographischesWerkverzeichnis(Munich,1984);andfor realized, permitting the viewer to witness a nar-
the descriptiveandhistorical detail of the Klingerworks,in-
cluding small reproductions, Singer, Zeichnungen von rative within the imaginary world. In that
Feuerbach,pp. 28-40, 73-88, 127-29. world, the mythical, the classical depiction of
4'Brandes,ModerneGeister,pp. 57-72. muses, and the powers of nature are affected by
42SeeKarinMayer-Pasinski,Max KlingersBrahmsphanta-
sie (Frankfurt,1982)fora detailediconographicandstylistic the music. They are transformedand set in mo-
analysis of the series. tion. The modern sensibility, through art,

166
LEON
BOTSTEIN
Brahmsand
19th-Century
Painting

Plate 5: Klinger, "Entfiihrungdes Prometheus" (Abductionof Prometheus) 1883, from


Brahmsphantasie, op. 12 (Leipzig,1894).

Plate 6: Klinger,"Accorde"(Chords)from Brahmsphantasie.


167
19TH reaches the eternal realm and enters it on an made to remythologize the listening experience
CENTURY and turn it against the necessities of ordinary
MUSIC equal footing.
Last, the viewer is permitted to look beyond, experience.
through music and image, into the idealized The inner vision becomes accessible, in
motion and stable horizon of nature and space. Brahms and Klinger, within the framework of
In this fourth dimension, the particularand the home, concert hall, and gallery; from any per-
limitless are combined. The consciousness of spective chosen in nature; and from the vantage
modernity, of the present, is merged with that point of shared psychic experience rendered
of a tradition of aesthetic discourse and the pas- self-reflective through art. Neither the dwarfing
sage of historical time. The modern artist religiosity of Brucknernor the heroic theatrical
pierces through to the expanse that only inner fantasy of Wagnerare required.A nascent trust
subjectivity permits, one divorcedfrom realism is created between the educated individual of
or nature. That expanse, within the framework the nineteenth century and the artist. The tran-
of recognizable imagery and formal procedures, scendent flight into the inner experience is the
is derived from Classicism, but is cast with a gift of art from two artists-Brahms and, to a
modern, dynamic, painterly, nearly organic lesser extent, Klinger-without any effort to
style. The appropriation of Classical and Ro- falsify pain, complexity, or suffering.
mantic elements is made possible by Klingerfor These were two great artists who did not
the viewer through the medium of depiction, sense the need to betraytheir middle-class com-
with the effect of music as the linking subject. patriots; to deny their sensibilities; or to as-
In Klinger's transcendence of narrative and sume the self-aggrandizingstation of superior-
realism, one can appreciatethe strategy within ity by virtue of their artistic gifts. Yet the music
Brahms's formal conservatism, as well as his of Brahmsis in no way glibly affirmative.It does
evocation of tradition. The Romantic impulse not, as Klinger so effectively portrayed,flinch
transcends the neoclassical. The technique of from the pessimistic, the tragic, the contradic-
this transcendence forced both Brahms and tory, and the ambiguous.
Klingerto innovate in the realization of musical In Brahms one can witness one of the few
and visual space and to play on the expectations nonpuerile confident triumphs of the urban,ed-
and memories of their audience. The modern ucated middle class in the late nineteenth cen-
and the normative-the subjective and the ab- tury. Audience and artist from that milieu,
solute-are reconciled in a distinct originality without defensive apology to either aristocrat
that permits an autonomy of fantasy on the part or aesthete, thought they could take their place
of the viewer, independent of the specific sub- with the ancients, in Winckelmann's terms, as
ject matter. equals-as artist, connoisseur, and amateur.
Brahms's reaction to Klinger mirrored Brahms'sfollowers, whether Reger,Zemlinsky,
Klinger's to Brahms. In contrast to the work of Schoenberg, or Schenker, could replicate nei-
Wagneror Makart, the audience of Brahmsand ther his confident engagementwith the existing
Klingeris permitted, in part because of the pro- audience (even its elite constituents) nor his un-
tean characterof the overt debt to priormodels, relenting demands on their habits of listening.
an independent subjectivity-a flight of imagi- Nor could they share Brahms'sfaith that, with-
nation that transfiguresthe specific narrativeit- out sacrificing his aesthetic ambitions, he
self. Their strategies included both the minia- would be understood and followed into the
ture and the monumental: the work of art as farthest reaches of inner experience, in
intimate, secret exchange, and as public collec- the concert hall, at home in the city, or in the
tive engagement in which the personal as well countryside-all within the complex and
as the heroic could still be experienced. In con- troubled patterns of work and private life
trast to the work of Wagnerand Bruckner,the of the late nineteenth -
monumentality is never distancing. No effortis century. t

168