Hostname: page-component-758b78586c-fxcbs Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2023-11-28T04:32:56.872Z Has data issue: false Feature Flags: { "corePageComponentGetUserInfoFromSharedSession": true, "coreDisableEcommerce": false, "useRatesEcommerce": true } hasContentIssue false

Jonathan Harvey's Quest of Spirit through music

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 June 2001

Department of Musicology, University of Amsterdam, Spuistraat 134, 1012 VB Amsterdam, The Netherlands Email:


In this review of Jonathan Harvey's In Quest of Spirit: Thoughts on Music, special attention is given to the question of how the musical domain may be related to the spiritual one, e.g. by representation (‘giving a picture’, ‘portrayal’), symbolism, parallelism, mediation and ‘overlap’. Harvey's sources and personal experiences are discussed, and the relationships between the different parts the author plays in his book assessed: the spiritual seeker, the thinker about music, and the composer. A possible conflict between spiritual search and professional music composition is pointed out, given an implicit tendency in the former to surrender, and in the latter to mastery and control. One of the questions looked into is how music, especially by articulating contrasts, may convey insight into ‘unity’. Other issues discussed are the possible addiction to music as a spiritual means at the expense of the spiritual quest itself; the alleged special role of electronics and spectrality in the composition of spiritual music; the possibility of developing spiritual listening; and possible modernist overtones in the notion of making progress as a composer while mediating spiritual insights and experiences.

Research Article
© 2000 Cambridge University Press

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)