Daniele Goldoni

Destino di un canto. La musica 'dice' (tace) Hölderlin

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Brahms' interpretation of "Hyperions Shicksalslied" - recently discussed in G. Pestelli's "Canti del Destino" - raises certain basic questions about how modern music can interpret poetry, and particularly the words of tragedy, which are intrinsically bound up with the Greek notion of Destiny and Fate. For Hölderlin, that Greek sense of the Tragic is present precisely because of the disappearance of the ancient constellations (the "gods") who gave direction to the world - that is the solitude and lack of purpose in modern life. Modern man is a "Zeichen", a "sign" that is deutunglos (an ambiguous word that can be read to mean "meaningless" but also "without adequate interpretation"). This ambivalence is essential in Hölderlin's poetry, which expresses the need to abandon guaranteed meaning in order to reinterpret loss, death and oblivion as essential both to life and poetry. In the twentieth century, philosophy (Heidegger, Adorno), poetry (Celan) and music (Nono, Holliger) have all read this in a way that underlines privation, silence and madness - ignoring the other, far from obscure aspect of Hölderlin's poetry, which emphasises the possibility of an art "of alternating tones" that can serve as a "therapy" leading towards the acquisition of wisdom based on awareness of the existential alternation of memory and oblivion, loss and return. Perhaps Brahms' interpretation of "Hyperions Schicksalslied" also suggests something of this sort.


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