Hymnus an das Leben
Often considered idiosyncratic for a philosopher, Nietzsche felt his music played a role in understanding his philosophical thought. He particularly applied this idea to Hymn to Life. He also used the song's melody in Hymn to Friendship for piano, which he once conducted at Bayreuth for Wagner and his wife. This had, according to Cosima Wagner, led to the first sign of a break with his friend Richard, in 1874. In spite of Nietzsche's ideas about his music, it has largely been regarded as a biographical curiosity, irrelevant to his philosophical work.
Nietzsche stated, after communicating the main idea of Zarathustra along with an aspect of his gaya scienza, in Ecce Homo: "...that Hymn to Life...—a scarcely trivial symptom of my condition during that year when the Yes-saying pathos par excellence, which I call the tragic pathos, was alive in me to the highest degree. The time will come when it will be sung in my memory" (trans. Walter Kaufmann). The composition Hymn to Life was partly done by Nietzsche in August and September 1882, supported by the second stanza of the poem Lebensgebet by Lou Andreas-Salome.
In 1884, Nietzsche wrote to Gast: "This time, 'music' will reach you. I want to have a song made that could also be performed in public in order to seduce people to my philosophy." With this request, Gast reworked Lebensgebet into Friendship, and it was orchestrated by Pietro Gasti, who modestly denied any reference in publication to his alterations to what Nietzsche had done previously. (Some, including Benjamin Moritz, feel these changes are significant enough to consider Life not an work by Nietzsche, but by Köselitz.) In the summer of 1887, E. W. Fritzsch in Leipzig published the work under Nietzsche's name as the first edition, which is Friendship simply put to Andreas-Salome's Lied and with orchestral alterations, entitled Hymnus an das Leben.
In October of the same year, Nietzsche wrote a letter to the German conductor Felix Mottl, saying about Life: "I wish that this piece of music may stand as a complement to the word of the philosopher which, in the manner of words, must remain by necessity unclear. The affect of my philosophy finds its expression in this hymn." The following December, he wrote to Georg Brandes a letter in which he commented: "A choral and orchestral work of mine is just being published, a Hymn to Life. It is the one composition of mine that is meant to survive and to be sung one day 'in my memory'...."
- Ecce Homo, trans. Walter Kaufmann
- Hymnus an das Leben performance
- Nietzsche Music Project
- John Bell Young's discography, displays of his work on Nietzsche's music are included.
- Customer review by John Bell Young on Nietzsche's music with criticism of the reviewed CD, Lauretta Altman, etc.
- "The Music and Thought of Friedrich Nietzsche"—a dissertation by Ben Moritz (PDF): "the original Hymnus an die Freundschaft is a generally well-written and delightful work, worthy of inclusion in the piano repertoire."
- Nietzsche's music in four volumes.
- Nietzsche as Composer