The Imaginary Museum of Musical Works: An Essay in the Philosophy of Music / Edition 2

Paperback (Print)
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $18.85
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 55%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (11) from $18.85   
  • New (8) from $36.34   
  • Used (3) from $18.85   


What is involved in the composition, performance, and reception of classical music? What are we doing when we listen to this music seriously? Why when playing a Beethoven sonata do performers begin with the first note indicated in the score; why don't they feel free to improvise around the sonata's central theme? Why, finally, does it go against tradition for an audience at a concert of classical music to tap its feet? Bound up in these questions is the overriding question of what it means philosophically, musically, and historically for musicians to speak about music in terms of "works".

In this book, Lydia Goehr describes how the concept of a musical work fully crystallized around 1800, and subsequently defined the norms, expectations, and behavioral patterns that have come to characterize classical musical practice. The description is set in the context of a more general philosophical account of the rise and fall of concepts and ideals, and of their normative functions; at the same time, debates amongst conductors, early-music performers, and avant-gardists are addressed.

The Imaginary Museum of Musical Works is a seminal work of scholarship, and has appeared in an astonishing variety of contexts and disciplines from musicological and philosophical since its initial publication. This second edition features a new Introductory Essay by the author, discussing the genesis of her groundbreaking thesis, how her subsequent work has followed and developed similar themes, and how criticisms along the way have informed not only her own work but the "Imaginary Museum" concept more generally as it spread across disciplinary lines. A provocative foreword by Richard Taruskin contextualizes Goehr's argument and points to its continuing centrality to the field.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"In my opinion, this is the most important book on music aesthetics to appear in the last several decades.... Goehr does not seek a universal definition for music and its meanings but instead traces the history of the 'work concept' in Western music. She both reveals the developments that cemented the notion of the musical work in the 19th century and also examines the limits of that notion."—Susan McClary, Professor of Musicology, University of California — Los Angeles

"This book is not only a major contribution to the philosophy of music, but is also vitally important to understanding music history and performance practice. Further, those interested in rethinking the conventions of today's classical music world should not miss it."—Bernard Sherman, Iowa Public Radio, author of Inside Early Music: Conversations with Performers, co-editor of Performing Brahms

Reviews of the First Edition

"A novel and definitive study of a concept of major importance in both the history of music and the philosophy of music."—Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism"

"This is a brilliant and fascinating book...a book to be read by anyone interested in music and concerned for the health of our culture."—Music and Letters

"One of the most exciting books on music to appear for a long timeexceptional, clearly the product of a fresh, imaginative, lucid mind...this book cannot fail to be essential reading for a long time to come...with this volume we have a feast par excellence.!"—Times Higher Educational Supplement

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195324785
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 10/2/2007
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 1,244,085
  • Product dimensions: 8.10 (w) x 5.40 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Lydia Goehr is Professor of Philosophy and Aesthetic Theory at Columbia University. She is also author The Quest for Voice: Music, Politics, and the Limits of Philosophy, the forthcoming Elective Affinities: Musical Essays of the History of Aesthetic Theory, and co-editor of The Don Giovanni Moment: Essays on the Legacy of an Opera.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Foreword by Richard Taruskin
Introductory Essay: His Master's Choice by Lydia Goehr
Part I. The Analytic Approach
1. A Nominalist Theory of Musical Works
2. A Platonist Theory of Musical Works
3. The Limits of Analysis and the Need for History
Part II. The Historical Approach
4. The Central Claim
5. Musical Meaning: From Antiquity to the Enlightenment
6. Musical Meaning:
7. Musical Production without the Work-Concept
8. After 1800: The Beethoven Paradigm
9. Werktreue: Confirmation and Challenge in Contemporary Movements
Bibliography of Works Cited

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)