The Value of Music: The Emotional Dimension

Date: 21st January 2019

Speaker: Professor Christopher Peacocke, music provided by Peter Maber on piano while guests arrive and leave.

Time: 18:00-19:45

Location: Drawing Room.


Mendelssohn famously wrote “The thoughts that are expressed to me by music that I love are not too indefinite to be put into words, but on the contrary, too definite. And so I find in every effort to express such thoughts something that is right but, at the same time, something that is lacking in all of them …. Only the song can say the same thing, can arouse the same feelings in one person as in another, a feeling that is not expressed, however, by the same words.

In this talk, Professor Peacocke aimed to: 

  1. Say what is right in Mendelssohn’s point, and why; 
  2. Say in what sense metaphor is involved in characterising how we hear music;
  3. Discuss how music can acquaint us with conscious emotions and modalities of action;
  4. Discuss what kind of subpersonal structures could make this possible;
  5. Discuss how an extended piece of music involves an intentional subject, whose mental life we hear in the music from a first person point of view;
  6. Illustrate the relevance of the preceding to understanding successful music criticism, and to an explanation of the importance of live performance.