Philosophy of Music: Basic Principles


a)To acquire skills for critical reasoning and argumentation, as well as for the relating and deepening of problems in a clear and fundamented discourse.
b)To recognize fundamental questions and values of the Philosophy of Music, questioning them from the stand-point of an existential and historic-cultural horizon.
c)To contextualize philosophic/aesthetical concepts and values without losing sight of their matrices, mutations in time and intertextualities.
d)To understand the sorts of creative relation between the composer, compositional materials and their temporal shaping, in the horizon of ethical, aesthetical and specific poetic values.
e)To be aware of the historic landscape of representations of Philosophy of Music that precede the creation of Aesthetics by Baumgarten, and of the great landmarks regarding their changes until Contemporaneity.
f)To enrich aesthetical experience and artistic sensibility through thought and commented audition of works.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Maria Manuela Toscano de Barbosa Vaz de Oliveira


Weekly - 4

Total - 168

Teaching language



Reading skills in portuguese, english,  french and italçian are recommended.


Bowman, W. (1998). Philosophical Perspectives on Music. Oxford: OUP. 
Cantagrel, G. (1998). Le Moulin et la rivière. Air et variations sur Bach. Paris: Fayard.
Dahlhus, C. (1989). The Idea o Absolute Music. Chicago: CUP.
Dubois, C-G. (1993). Le Baroque. Profondeurs de l’apparence. Bordeaux: PUB.
Férry, L. (2002). Le sens du beau. Aux origines de la culture contemporaine. Paris: Le Livre de Poche.
Givone, S. (2003). Prima Lezione di estetica. Roma: Laterza.
Le Hurey, P. & Day, J. (1981). Music and Aesthetics in the Eighteenth and Early-Nineteenth Centuries. Cambridge: CUP.
Palisca, C. (1994). \"Ut oratoria musica: the Rhetorical Basis of Musical Mannerism\". Studies in the History of Italian Music and Music Theory. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 282-311.
Platão (s. d.). O banquete. Mem Martins: Publicações Europa-América.

Teaching method

Exposition of contents allowing for active and critical participation of students. The questions stimulate the relationship between concepts and values apart in time, to capture transformations and continuities of the elements. Analysis of texts. Commentaries of auditions, poems and paintings.
Presentations of art books. The intention is that the student does not lose the direct relationship with the book, which dynamises personal discoveries, in the respect with the own rythm of this intimate dialogue with art. Graphic presentations are used to highlight the relations between ideas and phenomena, due to the visual character of some of the topics presented.

Evaluation method

A written test, unfolded in two dates, stipulated in the first week of classes (70%). Requested skills : discursive elaboration and in-depth treatment of relevant problems.(70%), Pertinent commentaries in seminars and capacity to interesting questions( 30%).(30%)

Subject matter

A- Introduction to Aesthetics: problems of its definition, strengths and limits of a conceptual approach to the ineffable world of aesthetic experience, some study issues and their questions.
B- History of the Philosophy of Music: relevant representations preceding the creation of Aesthetics by Baumgarten, deepening the thought of Plato and Aristotle, crossroads of the Philosophy of Culture with the Baroque Doctrine of Affections and the Aesthetics of Sentiment (18th and 19th centuries). Bridges between music theories, composer’s representations of the musical work and performance: projections at the level of aesthetical categories, formal conception, relationship with the compositional materials, temporality, rhetorical organization and style. German Romanticism: Schelling; Schopenhauer and the metaphysics of instrumental music; the "new poetical era".


Programs where the course is taught: