“Beckh ventures into provinces that I have not had the opportunity of investigating myself...” (Rudolf Steiner)
Lost for decades, the manuscript of Hermann Beckh’s final lectures on the subject of music present fundamentally new insights into its cosmic origins. Beckh characterizes the qualities of musical development, examines select musical works (that represent for him the peak of human ingenuity), and sheds new light on the nature and source of human creativity and inspiration. Published here for the first time, the lectures demonstrate a distinctive approach founded on the raw material of musical perception.
Beckh discusses the whistling wind, the billowing wave, birds song, and especially the longing. Never losing the ground from under his feet, he penetrates perennial themes: from the yearning for real spontaneity and the “mystery background” uniting Heaven and Earth, to spiritual knowledge that can meet the demands of the twenty-first century. From the cosmic context Beckh writes to the individual situation. From there, he seeks again the re-wins cosmic context. He does not write as a musical specialist and then turn to universal human concerns; rather, Beckh writes from universal human concerns and reveals music as of special concern to everyone.
In addition to the transcripts of fifteen lectures, this book contains a valuable introduction and editorial footnotes. It also features appendices including Beckh’s essay “The Mystery of the Night in Wagner and Novalis”; reminiscences of Beckh by August Pauli and Harro Rückner; Donald Francis Tovey’s “Wagnerian harmony and the evolution of the Tristan-chord”; and several contemporaneous reviews of Beckh’s published works.
Hermann Beckh (1875–1937) studied Law and later Sanskrit, becoming Professor of Oriental Studies at the University of Berlin. A master of ancient and modern languages, he wrote extensively on religious and philosophical subjects, including Buddhism, Indology, Christianity, alchemy, and music. In 1911, he heard a lecture by Rudolf Steiner and was inspired to join the Anthroposophical Society, where he became a valued coworker. In 1922, he helped found The Christian Community, a movement for religious renewal. His many books are gradually being translated from the original German and published in English.