The Feeling of Infinity: Late Beethoven and the Aesthetics of the Sublime and the Beautiful

45 Pages Posted: 16 Apr 2012

Date Written: May 10, 2010

Abstract

Many Western philosophers, such as Burke, Kant, and Hegel, have examined the concepts of the “sublime” and the “beautiful.” Though they often disagree on the particular characteristics that produce one or the other feeling (or both), it is clear that the realm of the sublime is beyond human understanding. It excites the most violent, noble, terrifying, and ecstatic passions. The works of Beethoven’s final stylistic period, as represented by his Piano Sonata in E Major, Op. 109, explore the farthest reaches of sublimity. The aesthetics of the sublime and beautiful have traditionally been applied to nature and the visual arts. However, they are readily applicable to music as well. Analyzing their development will help place Beethoven in the proper historical context. It can then be shown how Beethoven’s late style helped revolutionize these concepts, expressing them in ways that a philosopher’s words simply could not.

Keywords: Beethoven, late period, sublime, beautiful, aesthetics

Suggested Citation

Bader, Christopher Kennedy, The Feeling of Infinity: Late Beethoven and the Aesthetics of the Sublime and the Beautiful (May 10, 2010). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2039142 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2039142

Christopher Kennedy Bader (Contact Author)

Saint Louis University School of Law ( email )

100 N. Tucker Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63101
United States

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