The Beginning of Terror

In his first Duino Elegy, poet Rainer Maria Rilke declares that “beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror that we are still able to bear”.

Music can be sheer terror. “Why do you like this? It’s just noise!” the detractors say as we hold firm in our musical love.

Perhaps we like this kind of chaotic and terrifying music because it is, as Rilke writes, at the threshold of beauty and abomination. Walking this tightrope, we can’t help but admire the musical feats which balance so gracefully.


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