Philosophy Colloquium: "Why Can't I Change Bruckner's Eighth Symphony?" David Friedell

Speaker: David Friedell, UBC

Bruckner revised his Eighth Symphony. He changed, among other things, the tonality of the third movement. I can't change the symphony, no matter how hard I try. Why not? This is especially mysterious, since Ella Fitzgerald changed jazz pieces she didn’t compose. I solve the puzzle by giving a new theory of music on which musical works are created partless abstracta. Musical works undergo socially determined normative changes to how they should be performed—not changes to their intrinsic properties. Were social practices radically different, I could change Bruckner’s symphony.