MUSIC AND MORALITY: From the library of a composer:
Marie Gjertz and music from moral and religious point of view
Małgorzata Gamrat 1 1 - Instytut Muzykologii Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego MAeS 2015; 16 (3): ICID: 1186516 Article type: Original article IC™ Value: 3.00
Abstract provided by Publisher
The Liszt collection at The Liszt Ferenc Memorial Museum and Research Centre contains
a very interesting book by Marie Gjertz, La musique au point de vue moral et religieux (1859).
Marie Gjertz (1819–1862) was a Norwegian-French pianist, composer, feminist, and
writer inspired by Fourier’s socialism and Catholic theology. In this paper, I examine
Gjertz’s ideas presented in her book where she offers a unique idea about instrumental
music, namely, that its principles must be based on Catholic moral rules. Gjertz provides
a list of musical sins (e.g. pride in Beethoven’s piano sonatas) and connects them with
musical theories, especially with the François-Joseph Fétis’s theory of harmony (1844) and
his idea about ordre omnitonique.
She finds an antidote to music in Catholic catechism: in contemplation and understanding
of God’s love which is a source of beauty. The most important element in music
is rhythm in which one can see a really human sentiment as a source of internal movement
of the soul.
Marie Gjertz shows also the gravest of musical sins – l’art pour l’art, the abandonment
of Gregorian music, the revolt, the incorrect diagnosis of one’s own abilities (by Cramer,
Kalkbrenner, Hummel), and the abandonment of the sentiment as a source of inspiration.
François-Joseph Fétis responded to Marie Gjertz in a series of four texts published in
Revue et Gazette Musicale. He concluded that Gjertz did not understand his books, but
she was an intelligent and unique author, and that her idea of moral value of music was an
interesting approach to instrumental music.