The Imaginary Museum of Musical Works  

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"Despite anticipations in Nietzsche, the idea of an open concept—often also referred to as an open-textured concept—was first explicitly used by Friedrich Waismann in his essay on the verifiability of empirical statements. Waismann's account is reminiscent of Wittgenstein's remarks on unbounded concepts and family resemblances, and is well, if not exhaustively, understood in the light of these. Concepts of democracy, justice, and art, as well as of music and musical work, are examples to keep in mind as we proceed with the more general discussion."

"Cf. Nietzsche: ‘only that which has no history is definable.’ Waismann, ‘Verifiability’, Aristotelian Society Proceedings, supp. vol. 19 (1945), 119–50; Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, tr. G. E. M. Anscombe (Oxford, 1958), §§ 67 ff. Since the 1940s, the idea of an open concept has been employed widely in aesthetics, ethics, and the philosophies of science and law. See M. Weitz, ‘The Role of Theory in Aesthetics’, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 15 (1956), 27–35; M. Mandelbaum, ‘Family Resemblances and Generalizations Concerning the Arts’, American Philosophical Quarterly, 2 (1965), 219–28; W. B. Gallie, Philosophy and the Historical Understanding (London, 1964), ch. 8; T. J. Diffey, ‘Essentialism and the Definition of "Art" ”, British Journal of Aesthetics, 13 (1973), 103–20; H. L. A. Hart, ‘The Ascription of Responsibility and Rights’, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 49 (1948–9), 179–94."--The Imaginary Museum of Musical Works (1992) by Lydia Goehr

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The Imaginary Museum of Musical Works: An Essay in the Philosophy of Music (1992, Clarendon Press, Oxford) is a book by Lydia Goehr.


"What is the difference between a performance of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony and the symphony itself? What does it mean for musicians to be faithful to the works they perform? To answer such questions, Lydia Goehr combines philosophical and historical methods of enquiry. Finding Anglo-American philosophy inadequate for the task, she shows that a historical perspective is indispensable to a full understanding of musical ontology. Goehr examines the concepts and assumptions behind the practice of classical music in the nineteenth century and demonstrates how different they were from those of previous centuries. She rejects the finding that the concept of a musical work emerged in the sixteenth century, placing its emergence instead around 1800. She describes how the concept of a work then came to define the norms, expectations, and behaviour that we now associate with classical music. Out of the historical thesis Goehr draws philosophical conclusions about the normative functions of concepts and ideals. She also addresses current debates amongst conductors, early-music performers, and avant-gardists."

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