Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel’s debate on the conception of virtuosity is distinctive for its discourse in 19th-Century Germany. He construes the virtuoso as an autonomous and practically judging individual, who orients freely within the world, which holds equally for the morally acting or the musically performing individual. Hegel’s formalistic account on music values the liberation from a concrete meaningful content, emphasising the importance of the performing individual. However, during the second half of the 19th-Century, Hegel’s view on virtuosity in work performances was interpreted by Left-Hegelians as the performer’s subordination to a larger whole within the domain of the political as well as the aesthetical. This led to a pseudo-Hegelian perspective on musical performance, claiming that the performer must faithfully detect and express a composer’s intention. Hence, this stance stresses the replacement of the performer’s personal individuality with that of the composer. The conception of virtuosity points toward a battleground on which ideas of freedom are negotiated. In this paper I would like to argue that positive accounts on acceptable virtuosity construed Joseph Joachim as a performing artist who substituted his own personality with the supposed intentions of classical composers, detected through intellectual engagement. This pseudo-Hegelian conception follows the same pattern of communitarian arguments which favour the individual’s subordination towards a larger whole. In the first part of my paper, I would like to sketch Hegel’s conception on virtuosity as a way to navigate freely within the world, as well as how left-Hegelians reconceptionalised Hegel’s account according to their political agenda. Second, I will discuss the way this perspective influenced the discourse surrounding Joachim as an uncompromising Werktreue performer. Finally, I would like to show how Joachim aesthetically reflects the subordination of the individual’s liberty towards a larger political whole in his Violin Concerto op. 11 “In Ungarischer Weise.”
Dominik Mitterer studied musicology and philosophy at the Ludwig Maximilians-University Munich. Supervised by Professor Hartmut Schick, his Bachelor’s of Arts degree was completed in 2018 with a dissertation on virtuosic repertoire for solo violin in 17th-century Germany. While completing his degree, from September 2015 to May 2016, Mitterer did an Erasmus Exchange year at University-College Dublin. While in Dublin, in order gain experience in academic research, he worked with Dr. Jaime Jones from August-October 2016 on a project about the urban music scene in Dublin. Furthermore, working with Dr. Claudia Heine, he finished a music-philolological focused internship in 2017 at the Richard Strauss Ausgabe in Munich. Most recently, Mitterer continued his postgraduate studies at the University of Manchester, which cumulated with a dissertation on ‘Virtuosity and the Politics of Freedom in 19th-Century Germany’ supervised by Dr. James Garratt in 2019. Through interdisciplinary work, Mitterer attempts to connect music-philosophical, -aesthetical and -political issues.