In: KulturPoetik 2006, Heft 2


Sigrid Weigel


Die Bedeutung des Musiktheaters für Aby Warburgs Konzept der Pathosformel




The article introduces a twofold constellation. (1) Concerning Aby Warburg’s concept of Pathosformel as an instrument for opera studies it discusses the relation between ›pathos formula‹, as part of his cultural theory of Nachleben (survival), and the repertoire of modes of expression in the ›rhetoric of music‹. (2) In order to emphasise the relevance of opera for Warburg’s thought it shows that the ›birth of opera‹ has played a crucial role in developing the concept. After inventing the terms »moved accessories«/»excited gestures« in his Botticelli book Warburg in an article on the Florentine Riforma melodrammatica emphasised the aspect of »revival« within the performing culture of Renaissance. Only through both these elements – the language of »excited gestures« and the aspect of »revival« – was it possible to construct the concept of Pathosformel one decade later.