Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778)

It is often forgotten that, before turning to philosophy and literature, Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a theorist, pedagogue, historian, and composer of music. In all of these capacities he left behind writings that characterize the whole of his philosophy and which determined his influence on the evolution of musical taste and listener sensitivity. Fragments of his reflections of music can be found scattered throughout his autobiographical writings in Les Confessions and Les Dialogues; in his pedagogical treatise Émile ou De l’éducation; or in his political writings such as the Contrat social and the Discours sur l’inégalité parmi les hommes, of which his considerations regarding the uses of music in the earliest human societies were founding elements in the anthropology of music. Reference to music can also be found in his epistolary novel, Julie ou La Nouvelle Héloïse, in which the comparison of French and Italian aesthetics represents an essential moment of reflection on the musical style of the second half of the eighteenth century.

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birth year1712
death year1778

Publications (7)