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Music: Mystery, Art and the Human Being

“Our neurosensory system is inwardly configured music, and we experience music as an artistic quality to the degree that a piece of music is in tune with the mystery of our own musical structure” —Rudolf Steiner

What is music? Steiner regards the essence of music as spiritual and inaudible to the senses. The world of tones, carried on vibrations of air, is not the essence. “The true nature of music, the spiritual element in music,” he says, “is found between the tones, in the intervals as an inaudible quality.”

Steiner spoke repeatedly of music as inherent in the cosmos and in human beings. It played an important role in many forms of ritual and worship, and people once perceived a link between music and starry realm, which was seen as the home of the gods. Today our view of music is divorced from such religious perspectives, but research repeatedly demonstrates the profound effects it continues to have on us.

In this unique anthology of texts, compiled with a commentary and notes by Michael Kurtz, Steiner describes the realm of spiritually resonating harmonies of the spheres and our intrinsic connection to that cosmic music. He also explores the phenomenon of musical listening and experience, as well as Goethe’s approach to music.

Originally published in German as Die Welt der Musik (Rudolf Steiner Verlag, 2012).

C O N T E N T S:

Introduction by Michael Kurtz

1. “Musica mundana”—The Music of the Spheres as Universal Force
2. The Human Being as Music—“Musica humana”
3. The Art of Music—“Musica instrumentalis
4. The Intervals as Fundamental Musical Phenomena
5. The Effects of Music and the Human Experience of Tone
6. Rudolf Steiner on Goethe and Schopenhauer and Their View of Music
7. Rudolf Steiner on Diverse Composers


About the Author

Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925) was born in the small village of Kraljevec, Austro-Hungarian Empire (now in Croatia), where he grew up. As a young man, he lived in Weimar and Berlin, where he became a well-published scientific, literary, and philosophical scholar, known especially for his work with Goethe’s scientific writings. At the beginning of the twentieth century, he began to develop his early philosophical principles into an approach to systematic research into psychological and spiritual phenomena. Formally beginning his spiritual teaching career under the auspices of the Theosophical Society, Steiner came to use the term Anthroposophy (and spiritual science) for his philosophy, spiritual research, and findings. The influence of Steiner’s multifaceted genius has led to innovative and holistic approaches in medicine, various therapies, philosophy, religious renewal, Waldorf education, education for special needs, threefold economics, biodynamic agriculture, Goethean science, architecture, and the arts of drama, speech, and eurythmy. In 1924, Rudolf Steiner founded the General Anthroposophical Society, which today has branches throughout the world. He died in Dornach, Switzerland.

Additional information

Weight 17 oz
Dimensions 5.5 × 0.75 × 8.5 in


Matthew Barton


Michael Kurtz




July 2016






Rudolf Steiner Press


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