Chapter 2, “Formalism’s Flower,” elaborates on the theme of form as it appears in two key contributions to the aesthetics of natural beauty and musical beauty: Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Judgment and Eduard Hanslick’s On the Musically Beautiful. In keeping with the current interest among environmental philosophers in remedying the nearly exclusive focus of post-Kantian aesthetics on the human arts, the chapter examines how Kant’s and Hanslick’s reflections on beauty highlight the formal and experiential ground shared by music and nature, ground that neither thinker explored in detail. The chapter develops conceptual strategies in which aspects of form and beauty serve to illustrate processual and dynamic features of both music and nature, strategies that guide the ensuing discussion of arabeske and its musical analogues. As a decorative art in which the mimesis of vegetal forms and energies is crossbred with human geometrical precision, arabeske points the way toward a naturalistic music criticism that nonetheless remains focused on the peculiarities of its chosen art, as the chapter shows in an analysis of Robert Schumann’s Arabeske, op. 18 (1839) for solo piano.
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