British Journal of Aesthetics 51 (1):1-12 (2011)

James O. Young
University of Victoria
Peter Kivy argues that Handel was the first composer to be regarded as a genius and that only in the eighteenth century was the philosophical apparatus in place that would enable any composer to be conceived of as a musical genius. According to Kivy, a Longinian conception of genius transformed Handel into a genius. A Platonic conception of genius was used to classify Mozart as a genius. Then Kant adopted a Longinian conception of genius and this shaped the perception of Beethoven. Kivy is wrong on all counts. Composers were thought to be geniuses long before Handel. The emergence of philosophical aesthetics in the eighteenth century did little to shape conceptions of musical genius. More specifically, Kivy misrepresents Kant's conception of genius and the role that it plays in the recognition of Beethoven as a musical genius
Keywords philosophy of music  genius
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DOI 10.1093/aesthj/ayq052
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