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By Benjamin Moritz

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By the time he was studying in Pforta, he quickly distinguished himself in his Greek and Latin classes and began studying French and Italian as well. His collected notebooks from this time reflect his interest in ancient Greek and Scandinavian literature. From his detailed study of languages, he began to assemble a theory of linguistic/musical development. From further notes for his unfinished “On the Nature of Music” essay, the seeds of this theory—a theory that would find fruition in The Birth of Tragedy from the Spirit of Music eight years later—can be examined.

What follows can best be described as a mini-development in which different tonalities are explored and there is a great deal more metric freedom. In Da geht ein 11 Bach, the development section comprises the entirety of an unusually long first ending, and culminates in a gradually shifting harmony suspended over a six measure pedal point. 11 Of 28 total measures (not counting the repeat) ten of them are in the first ending; MN, 13. 59 After the development follows a brief return to the opening material, although it is usually truncated and sometimes interspersed with later material.

Components of the vocal introduction are even recalled and developed, and combined with Nietzsche’s knack for charming melodies, it is a highly effective work. Perhaps the demonstration of succinctness and proportion evident here for the first time can be attributed, ironically, to the notoriously long-winded and unpredictable music of Wagner. By appreciating the ability of small progressions to unify immense works, Nietzsche began using them in his own, much shorter, compositions. Another weakness Nietzsche began to overcome at this time was his tendency towards improvisation.

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