Classical Music is Centered on Ideals of Beauty and Truth

Classical music has been around for centuries, and during that time, it has been centered on ideals of beauty and truth. Today, classical music is still revered for its ability to evoke emotion and inspire reflection. If you’re new to classical music, or just looking to deepen your appreciation for it, this blog is for you. Here, we’ll explore the history, the major composers, and the enduring legacy of classical music.

Classical Music as an Aesthetic Ideal

Classical music is often seen as an aesthetic ideal, based on the concepts of beauty and truth. This music is based on these two ideas, and the belief that they are the highest ideals to strive for. Classical music is often seen as being perfect, and it is this perfection that makes it so beautiful.

The history of classical music

Classical music is art music produced or rooted in the traditions of Western music, including both liturgical (religious) and secular music. While a more precise term is also used to refer to the period from 1750 to 1820 (the Classical period), this article is about the broad span of time from before the 6th century AD to the present day, which includes the Classical period and various other periods. The central norms of this tradition became codified between 1550 and 1900, which is known as the common-practice period.

Western staff notation is used by composers to indicate to performers the pitch, tempo, meter and rhythms for a piece of music. This can leaves less room for performer interpretation on how to play a note or phrase. The term “classical music” did not appear until the early 19th century, in an attempt to distinctly canonize the period from Johann Sebastian Bach to Ludwig van Beethoven as a golden age. The earliest reference to “classical music” recorded by the Oxford English Dictionary is from about 1836.

The definition of beauty

In art, beauty is often whisked away to theland of subjectivity. One person’s Mona Lisa is another’s scribble. What Raphael created as a religious painting, others may see only as a handsome portrait. We each have different temperaments, and what touches one soul may leave another unmoved.

This is not the case with classical music. Granted, we can all think of examples where different people have preferred different interpretations of the same work. But there is a core of agreement about what works are great and which are not, about what performances are inspired and which are pedestrian. This consensus extends across time and cultures. Greatness in classical music is not a matter of opinion; it is an objective reality.

One reason for this objectivity is that classical music deals in absolutes, in an ideal of perfection that exists independently of any actual performance or recording. The composer is trying to create something that has never existed before, something that conforms to his own idea of beauty and truth. We may not always agree with his idea, but we can appreciate the effort and judge how well he has succeeded.

Of course, no performance or recording can ever fully realize the composer’s ideal; they can only come closer or fall further away from it. But because the ideal exists independently of any actual realization, we can still say definitively that one performance or recording is better than another, even if we prefer the less successful one for personal reasons.

The consensus about greatness in classical music arises out of this shared idea of perfection, an idea that transcends individual taste and subjective opinion. It is this objectivity that makes greatness in classical music something we can all agree on.

The definition of truth

Classical music is based on ideals of beauty and truth. The word “truth” can be defined in many ways, but for our purposes, we will consider it to refer to an accurate representation of reality. In other words,true music is music that accurately represents the emotions and experiences of human life. It is not music that simply sounds pretty or music that makes us feel good.

Classical Music and the Aesthetic Ideal of Beauty

There is a long tradition in Western philosophy of regarding music as a source of pleasure. Plato says in The Republic that music can purify the soul and make it better. Aristotle, in his essay Politics, discusses the importance of music in educating the young.

The relationship between beauty and art

The relationship between beauty and art has been the subject of philosophical speculation since at least Plato. In his dialogue the Republic, Plato argues that “beauty belongs to an object whose form causes it to be loved.” He goes on to say that “beautiful objects are those which are proportionate and harmonious” (Plato, Republic 597d-e).

Aristotle, in his treatise On the Soul, also has a discussion of beauty. For Aristotle, something is beautiful if it has order and symmetry (On the Soul 415b). He argues that these two properties are what make an object pleasant to look at.

In the medieval period, theologians such as Thomas Aquinas continued to discuss the relationship between beauty and art. Aquinas argued that beauty is a property of an object that is “objectively identifiable” (Summa Theologiae I-II q.27 a.4). In other words, he believed that there are certain objective standards by which we can judge whether something is beautiful or not.

The philosophers Immanuel Kant and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel also had things to say about the relationship between beauty and art. Kant argued that beauty is a “subjective feeling” that we experience when we encounter an object (Critique of Judgment Section 8). Hegel, on the other hand, believed that art is not necessarily connected with beauty at all. Instead, he thought that art is about the expression of ideas (Hegel’s Aesthetics Lectures on Fine Art).

In recent years, there has been a renewed interest in the relationship between beauty and art. The philosopher Denis Dutton has argued that there are certain standards of beauty that are universal across cultures (The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure, and Human Evolution). The psychologist Steven Pinker has also argued that there is an evolutionary basis for our appreciation of beauty (The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined).

The relationship between beauty and music

Since the dawn of civilization, music has been an important part of human culture. Many early societies placed great importance on music, and it played a central role in their religious and social customs. In the Western world, classical music is often thought of as the highest expression of this tradition.

Classical music is centered on ideals of beauty and truth. The greatest composers strove to create works that would be considered beautiful by the standards of their time. They also sought to express universal truths about the human condition.

Today, our idea of what is beautiful in music has changed considerably from that of previous generations. Nevertheless, classical music still has the power to touch us deeply and to inspire us with its beauty and truth.

The role of beauty in classical music

Classical music is often seen as the highest art form, one that is concerned with beauty and truth. This idea of classical music as an aesthetic ideal has a long history, and has been espoused by some of the greatest composers and thinkers of the past.

Plato, for example, saw music as a way to access the transcendent realm of Forms, where beauty exists in its purest form. In the Republic, he wrote that “when [musicians] strains are harmonized in the relations proper to them…we approve, and think that they are right; when they clash, we condemn them and think they are wrong” (Book III).

For Plato, then, beauty was something that could be found in the order and harmony of music. This idea was taken up by many subsequent thinkers, including Aristotle, who saw music as a way to achieve catharsis, or purification from emotions. And in the Medieval period, beauty was often seen as a spiritual quality that led one closer to God.

This ideal of beauty continued to be central to classical music throughout its history. In the hands of great composers like Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms, it became a source of immense power and emotion. Today, classical music is still seen as a refuge from the chaos of the world, an art form that can take us to places of serenity and truth.

Classical Music and the Aesthetic Ideal of Truth

Beauty and truth are two important ideals that have often been associated with classical music. The idea of beauty in music has been discussed by a number of philosophers and thinkers, such as Plato, Kant, and Nietzsche. The idea of truth in music has been explored by a number of musicologists and thinkers, such as Adorno, Derrida, and Foucault.

The relationship between truth and art

It has often been said that art is a reflection of reality, but what does this really mean? In order to understand the relationship between truth and art, we must first understand what each term means.

Truth is often defined as something that is in agreement with fact or reality. In other words, something that is true is actually happening or did happen. There is no opinion involved. Art, on the other hand, is often defined as the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination. This means that art is a product of the artist’s own thoughts and feelings.

Now that we have a general understanding of these two terms, let’s explore how they relate to each other. As we mentioned before, some people believe that art is a reflection of reality. This means that the artist creates a work of art based on their own observations of the world around them. They may use their own experiences to influence their work, but ultimately they are trying to capture a piece of reality in their art.

Other people believe that art is not a reflection of reality, but rather an escape from it. This means that the artist creates a work of art based on their own imagination and creativity rather than any sort of observation. They may use their own experiences to influence their work, but ultimately they are trying to create something entirely new and different from anything that exists in reality.

So which perspective is correct? The answer may surprise you – both! There are countless examples of works of art that reflect reality, and there are just as many examples of works of art that escape reality. It all depends on the artist’s intention for their work.

The relationship between truth and music

There is a long-standing tradition in Western philosophy that associates music with the emotions and therefore with irrationality, while reason is connected to mathematics and the other sciences. For example, in his book The Republic, Plato identifies three kinds of rhetoric—the emotional or musical, the ethical or practical, and the logical or scientific—and he associates the musical kind with deceit and nonsense. The tradition continues in the work of Arthur Schopenhauer, who argued that music is “by far the most important of all the arts” because it is “the immediate drive of will.” For Schopenhauer, as for Plato, music is not an art of representation; it does not imitate anything in the world outside us. Rather, it expresses an immediate drive or impulse that is not subject to reason.

This tradition has led many people to think that classical music is somehow opposed to truth. But this is a mistake. The great classical composers were not trying to deceive their audiences; they were trying to express deep truths about the human condition—truths that are sometimes difficult to articulate in words.

One way to understand this point is to consider what we mean by “truth.” In common usage, the word “true” is often used simply to mean “accurate” or “factual.” But there are other kinds of truth that are more important, and more difficult, to articulate. For example, we might say that a person is true to herself if she lives according to her deepest values and beliefs; or we might say that a work of art is true if it succeeds in conveying its artist’s vision of reality.

These are truths about human beings and their experience of the world; they are not factual truths in the same sense as scientific truths. But they are no less important for being difficult to express in words. And it is these deeper kinds of truth that classical composers have always been trying to convey through their music.

The role of truth in classical music

Classical music is not just about entertainment or showing off technical skill. At its heart, classical music is about ideals of beauty and truth.

The ideal of beauty in classical music is about more than just pretty melodies or pleasing harmonies. It is about a vision of perfection that the composer is reaching for, often in the face of real-world imperfections. This can be seen in the way that many classical composers have revised their works over time, trying to get closer to their ideal.

The ideal of truth in classical music is about finding the emotional core of a piece of music and bringing it to life. This can be done through the use of expressive devices like rubato (changing the tempo for expressive effect) or by conveying a message through the music itself. Many classical composers have written music with explicit political or social messages, using their art to comment on the world around them.


In conclusion, classical music is centered on ideals of beauty and truth. These ideals have been prevalent since the time of the Ancient Greeks, and they continue to be evident in modern classical music. The genre has evolved over time, but the core values of beauty and truth remain at its heart.

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