Hanslick (1825–1904) ‘became one of the first widely influential music critics in the modern sense; he was also among the first to receive an official university appointment in music, as professor of the history and aesthetics of music at the University of Vienna, in 1861. His early treatise on questions of musical form and expression (Vom Musikalisch-Schönen, 1854) challenged a long tradition of aesthetic thought that located the essence and value of music in a loosely defined “expression of feelings”, and it has remained a touchstone in musical-aesthetic debates to the present day’ (New Grove). An English translation did not appear until 1986.
Laroche writes here that he began translating the work in 1879, only to break off after the first few pages when he became mired in difficulties due to the philosophical language. Undaunted, he returned to the text in 1885; it took him four years to complete his work, after which he ran the complete text past Tolstoy’s friend, the philosopher and critic Nikolai Strakhov, before publication.