Unjacketed Hardcover

Song Loves the Masses

Herder on Music and Nationalism

Johann Gottfried Herder (Author), Philip V. Bohlman (Author), Philip V. Bohlman (Translator)

Available worldwide

Unjacketed Hardcover, 336 pages
ISBN: 9780520234949
January 2017
$85.00, £71.00
Other Formats Available:
Distinguished ethnomusicologist Philip V. Bohlman compiles Johann Gottfried Herder’s writings on music and nationalism, from his early volumes of Volkslieder through sacred song to the essays on aesthetics late in his life, shaping them as the book on music that Herder would have written had he gathered the many strands of his musical thought into a single publication. Framed by analytical chapters and extensive introductions to each translation, this book interprets Herder’s musings on music to think through several major questions: What meaning did religion and religious thought have for Herder? Why do the nation and nationalism acquire musical dimensions at the confluence of aesthetics and religious thought? How did his aesthetic and musical thought come to transform the way Herder understood music and nationalism and their presence in global history? Bohlman uses the mode of translation to explore Herder’s own interpretive practice as a translator of languages and cultures, providing today’s readers with an elegantly narrated and exceptionally curated collection of essays on music by two major intellectuals.
List of Illustrations
Note on the Text
Note on Translation and Commentary
Prologue: Again, Herder


1. Folk Song at the Beginnings of National History: Essay on Alte Volkslieder (1774)
Translation from Alte Volkslieder / Ancient Folk Songs

2. The Folk Song Project at the Confluence of Music and Nationalism: Essay on Volkslieder (1778/79) and Stimmen der Völker in Liedern (1807)
Translation from Volkslieder and Stimmen der Völker in Liedern / Folk Songs and Voices of the People in Song
Appendix A: Introduction to the Folk Song Texts
Appendix B: Translation from the Folk Song Texts

3. Singing the Sacred Body: Essay on Lieder der Liebe (1778)
Translation from Lieder der Liebe: Die ältesten und schönsten aus Morgenlande / Songs of Love: The Oldest and Most Beautiful from the Orient


4. The Nation and Its Fragments: Essay on “Briefwechsel u¨ber Ossian und die Lieder alter Völker” (1773)
Translation from “Briefwechsel u¨ber Ossian und die Lieder alter Völker” / “Correspondence about Ossian and the Songs of Ancient Peoples”

5. Songs of the Enlightenment Bard: Essay on “Homer und Ossian” (1794)
Translation of “Homer und Ossian” / “Homer and Ossian” 6. Redemption through Sacred Song: Essay on Letter 46, Theologische Schriften (1780/81)
Translation of Letter 46, Theologische Schriften / Theological Writings


7. The Shores of Modernity: Essay on “Wirkung der Dichtkunst auf die Sitten neuerer Zeiten” (1777)
Translation from “Wirkung der Dichtkunst auf die Sitten neuerer Zeiten” / “The Influence of Poetry on the Customs of Modernity”

8. The Epic as Nation: Essay on Herder’s Der Cid Translation from Der Cid / The Cid

9. Music Transcendent and Sublime: Herder’s “Von Music” (1800)
Translation of “Von Musik” / “On Music”

Epilogue: Herder’s Journey


Johann Gottfried Herder (1744–1803) was a theologian, philosopher, ethnographer, and historian of the late Enlightenment, whose writings on music have been widely influential during the two centuries since his death.

Philip V. Bohlman is Ludwig Rosenberger Distinguished Service Professor of Music and the Humanities at the University of Chicago, where he is also Artistic Director of the ensemble-in-residence, The New Budapest Orpheum Society.

"In Song Loves the Masses, Philip V. Bohlman has achieved what I regard as the finest achievement (only finest so far, of course) in his enormously productive, wide-ranging, innovative, and influential career as a scholar."—Celia Applegate, Vanderbilt University

"This book is that rarity, a genuinely original work. It is simultaneously a valuable translation of Herder and a meditation on translation itself. In this double role it will merit a wide readership in literary scholarship, history, German studies, philosophy, and musicology."—Harry Liebersohn, Professor of History, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

"Herder's essays on music are ground zero for the study of musical nationalism, especially in Europe but also in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. All of us interested in this important topic owe Philip V. Bohlman a debt of gratitude for translating them into English for the first time."—Timothy Rice, UCLA Distinguished Professor of Ethnomusicology

"Philip V. Bohlman takes us back with Herder to witness the birth of the conjoined triplets Romanticism, modern anthropology, and comparative musicology. No one reading this book will ever forget their nexus, as well as its costs and its benefits. And we also meet the eighteenth-century philosopher who truly understood—though his contemporaries did not—the dynamic power of music. Herder needs to become our contemporary once more, and now, thanks to Philip V. Bohlman, he can."—Richard Taruskin, author of Oxford History of Western Music

Join UC Press

Members receive 20-40% discounts on book purchases. Find out more