Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy. – Ludwig van Beethoven
If you don’t know who he his or what his accomplishments are, you’ve at least heard his name.
Beethoven was a German pianist and composer whose works remain some of the most influential of any composer to date.
To be blunt, to declare music a higher revelation than wisdom and philosophy sounds like something a musician would say. But there is still something deeply resonant about this idea.
The quadrivium might shed some light on what Beethoven was trying to say. It can be traced back to the 6th century, and has been attributed to Boethius or Cassiodorus. What is the quadrivium?
The study of arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy. These studies were considered foundational to the study of the trivium – grammar, logic, and rhetoric – in other words, philosophy and theology.
It could be said that music was once considered a serious and necessary study for engaging in philosophical discussions.
In light of that reality, Beethoven’s quote might make more sense. On the other hand, it may not, because he’s saying that music is an even higher revelation than what can be discerned through grammar, logic and rhetoric.
What do you think? Does music speak to something deeper? Are there things that can only be understood or interpreted through music?