From Pythagoras onward, music was perceived as a mirror of cosmic harmony and of the Supreme Intelligence believed to pervade the universe. But 19th-century Romantic composers, in James's view, were deaf to the music of the spheres, and created instead an aberrant music of exaggerated emotional appeal. James, who writes on science and music for Discover and Connoisseur, contends that the works of Bach, Mozart, Schubert and Schonberg embody a belief in a sublime cosmic order that Beethoven overturned. This bold, pathbreaking history explains how the ancient tradition of music as a branch of divine science has found support from Plato through Kepler, Sir Isaac Newton (an alchemist and self-professed Pythagorean) to Galileo, Freemasonry and the esoteric experiments of today's avant-garde composers. A provocative, engaging reassessment of the Western musical tradition and its relation to science. Illustrated. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/29/1993 Release date: 04/01/1993 Genre: Nonfiction
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