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Musical Pleasures and Amorous Passions: Stendhal, the Crystallization Process, and Listening to Rossini and Beethoven

Stephen Downes
19th-Century Music
Vol. 26, No. 3 (Spring 2003), pp. 235-257
DOI: 10.1525/ncm.2003.26.3.235
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/ncm.2003.26.3.235
Page Count: 23
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Musical Pleasures and Amorous Passions: Stendhal, the Crystallization Process, and Listening to Rossini and Beethoven
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Abstract

In De l'Amour (1822) Stendhal elaborated his idea of the "crystallization" process in which the distant beloved assumes qualities of ideal beauty in the imagination of the male lover. He also states that "the habit of listening to music and the state of reverie connected with it prepare one for falling in love" and, furthermore, that "perfect music has the same effect on the heart as the presence of the beloved. It gives, in fact, apparently more intense pleasure than anything else on earth." These erotic pleasures he identified most consistently and enthusiastically with the music of Rossini. This article takes Stendhal's related notions of love and the sensual immediacy of musical pleasures as models to develop an analytical and hermeneutic approach to musical examples of amour passion. This allows a new reassessment of Rossini's supposed predicament on the "Other" side of Dahlhaus's "unbridgeable rift" from the music of Beethoven and provides a critique of the relationship between the "heroic" male subject with his inspirational beloved. Examples are drawn from Rossini's Tancredi (1813) and William Tell (1829), and Beethoven's An die ferne Geliebte (1810), Fidelio, and "Les Adieux," Piano Sonata, op. 81a (1807).

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