Thus Composed Nietzsche

“Without music, life would be a mistake.”
— Friedrich Nietzsche


Manfred Meditation is one of many musical pieces composed by German Philologist and Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. Most of his compositions were created at an early age, and were harshly criticized by Wagner (discretely) and Hans von Bulow (openly, saying that his music is a practical joke). It is even said that Wagner left before the end of a performance, and was found lying on the floor in a hysterical fit of laughter. Nevertheless, this was not the reason behind the later rupture between the Philosopher and ‘The Master’.

Nietzsche may have been affected by that verdict, but I doubt he ever knew how Wagner reacted to his music: Nietzsche kept visiting and writing the Wagners even after that laughing fit. And Wagner’s low opinion of Nietzsche as a composer probably had little to do with the philosopher’s later disgust with everything related to Wagnerism.
—Edward Rothstein, The New York Times

In any occurrence, whether or not Nietzsche’s compositions contain any musical value is not an issue. These early pieces are but an honest expression of a young Nietzsche, who, through several stages in life, came to be the Philosopher we all know so well. So don’t be too cruel !


13 thoughts on “Thus Composed Nietzsche”

    1. Well, Nietzsche’s case is a twofold since he is both a Philosopher and a Poet.
      Philosophy-wise, music is a true puzzle. Unlike the art of words, of visual representations, or even of taste, one can’t really associate anything tangible with musical compositions (especially non-programmatic ones), which brings about a metaphysical side to music. Poetry-wise, Music has the powerful auditory aesthetic impact that poets constantly seek to imitate through rhymes, meters and other artifices. A close friend of mine (who’s studying Literature) even told me once that “a poet is a failed musical composer”.
      As for Scientists like Einstein, Music can be a scientific curiosity (the way waves behave), or even a way to relieve oneself from strenuous thought, and allow for new ideas to seep in. It’s a true delight for the neurons!

      1. Poets are failed musicians: Haha! 🙂

        Oh yeah, speaking of Ludwig Wittgenstein; he was also a huge fan of music (Piano). He had an uncanny ability of memorizing entire symphonies and being able to whistle them. Bertrand Russell and a few other people said he was the best person they had ever met at whistling – imagine that huh!

        Interesting trivia about Einstein: he once sent a letter to his son (also named Albert Einstein) and told him that perhaps the two most important activities a boy his age (teens) could possibly do was to do carpentry and to play the piano. Those were the things he believed were most conducive to evolving intelligence.

      2. Wittgenstein? Really? That’s impressive! I didn’t know that about him, wouldn’t have even suspected it. Cool.
        Now that bit about Einstein isn’t as surprising, because he used to say that whenever he got “scientist’s block”, he would take out his violin, play some excerpts, and Eureka! He’d find the answer as if by miracle.
        And by the by : Vinum et musica laetificant cor 😉

      3. Ok.

        Yes Einstein was a really conscious dude. I really think it is interesting with people who form their entire lives around one or a few things, like Einstein remaining focused for SO LONG on the same thoughts without flinching. That requires a huge amount of concentration and “stick-to-it-iveness”, as Edison called it.

      4. Not only because of how he treated Tesla (that cause is too mainstream 😛 hehe), but because he started the heavy industrialization of Science. Science used to be its own end. It used to push Human Knowledge. Now it’s pushing Humans towards being more lethargic, and less prone to counteract the “principle of least action”. All of this because of people like Edison who wanted to… Look, we’ve drifted away from the original topic, and I feel that commenting like this isn’t a satisfactorily form of discussion,… any alternative in mind? 😛

      5. Let’s not steer the topic of discussion, it is more fun to take it where it leads 🙂

        I think that the industrialization of science was inevitable, and if not Edison, the someone else would’ve had that transformative role.

        Nobody hated lethargy more than Edison, he used to look down on people who slept more than they minimally had to. He was the posterboy of productivity and work ethic.

        Can’t really think of any other alternative for now…

      6. Hahaha,great, digression is my forte 😛

        Yes, industrialization was inevitable, and yes, Edison was the posterboy of productivity and work ethic, but this so-called “productivity” is FORCING Scientists to invent new things, it’s becoming an obligation more than a passion. And according to studies, the way people are rewarded according to their achievements (more inventions more money) does not give the desired outcome (i.e. even more inventions). On the other hand, some companies tell their employees that they have 24-hours to create something new whatever it may be. They’re free from the chains of industrialization and consumerism. And they found out, that during those 24-hours of free thinking, had an outcome unmatched in years. So Scientists should be freed from money! And work ethics? not with Tesla… hehe

        And what I meant by “alternative” was : wanna chat on Google or something instead of here?

      7. Yes you are right. I guess you have read books like Drive, eh?

        Though in Edison’s & Tesla’s cases, they were fanatically passionate about inventing stuff 🙂

        No not right now, I gotta do some stuff. Perhaps another time, Or in another post!

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