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Gutheil, E. (1935). Translations: Musical Day-Dreams. Psychoanal. Rev., 22(4):424-431.

(1935). Psychoanalytic Review, 22(4):424-431

Translations: Musical Day-Dreams

Emil Gutheil

Like every other artist, so does the musician seek to free himself through his work, through “communication “of his inmost feelings to the outer world. Heine expressed this when he spoke of his “great griefs” (“grosse Schmerzen”) from which he made his “little melodies” (“kleine Lieder”), and so did that Colossus in the art of music, Beethoven, when he said: “What I feel in my heart, must come out, and that's why I write.” A work of art is really comparable to a confession.

How is one to understand a musical confession? Of all the arts, music is the one which has the least literary content. The composer communicates to the hearer his spiritual experiences, the “emotional content of his day-dream,” as one would say, by a practically direct method. It is feeling which vibrates toward the hearer, and again it is feeling which is set into sympathetic vibration in him. But feelings have no form, they are “wordless,” they can not be “comprehended,” because they have nothing in common with comprehending. Confessions, so uttered, can be heard only by ears which are keen enough to perceive the language of poets, no matter if heard in the gentle plucking of a string or in the thunder of a symphony. And those are again ears of artists.

With an ordinary hearer the situation is different. The “feeling “which the composer communicates to the hearer through his work, is mostly used by the latter for building up his own day-dreams. The composer en wreathes him with the euphony of his melodies. The listener follows willingly on the stream of music, yet he carries along his own little canoe of day-dreams in which he then lets himself be driven along by the current.

So does day-dream speak to day-dream, and he whose day-dream in its artistic expression addresses himself to the ancient dreams of mankind, is indeed a master.

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