The Dahlhaus Project

and Its Extra-Musicological Sources

James Hepokoski

About the Author:

  • Born 1946
  • American musicologist
  • Received Masters and PhD in Music History from Harvard
  • Professor at Yale since 1999
  • Many publications in music journals
  • Link to Yale Faculty info

Background Info Needed:


  • societal analysis
  • class relations
  • uses interpretation of historical development
  • inspired by German philosophers
  • arts were "phantoms formed in the human brain... They have no history, no development."
  • Dahlhaus was not a fan.

Theodor Adorno's Aesthetic Theory (Germany, 1970)

  • concerned with relations between art and society
  • art has a role in societal commentary
  • Dahlhaus admired him, which was conflicting since Dahlhaus tried to stay away from societal connections
  • Dahlhaus adapts Adorno's concepts without accepting their sociological vocabulary

Hans Robert Jauss

  • German academic
  • Reception Theory (emphasizes the reader's reception of a literary text)
  • French Literature
  • Jauss' work had a deep impression on Dahlhaus' work

Hans-Georg Gadamer

  • German philosopher
  • magnum opus Truth and Method on hermenuetics
  • Gadamer's view of working within an established tradition is used by Dahlhaus
  • established tradition includes positive presence of history of effects of individual works and a canon of facts and works given to us

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About the Article

Why was this written?

  • Dahlhaus' book could alter horizon of english language musicology
  • "book isn't self-explanatory"
  • "oblique prose"
  • occasional errors of factual detail