Architecture as Frozen Music and Emotion

Goethe said that architecture is like frozen music.  In 1901, C.W. Leadbeater and Annie Besant in London wrote, Thought Forms and described a series of concerts played inside a church on an organ using music of Mendelssohn, Gounod and Wagner.  They “saw” with their sixth sense, ethereal structures form in the air above the exterior of the church.  The structures drawn in the illustrated book resembled beautiful, lightly formed buildings of varying colors dictinctly different for each composer.  The forms would linger there for sometime and then fade away.


This may seem fantastical and strange, but it reminds me of Goethe’s words.  Maybe Goethe saw music take form too.  Perhaps, if we could see with our inner eyes too, then we would be able to define the forms of emotions.  Desire for power would take shape as a heavy, oppressive structure like Milan’s train station built under Mussolini.  Envy and jealousy might take the shapes of demons on Notre Dame’s facade.  Protection would be symbolized in Mario Botta’s  Bergoase Spa or his church at Mogno in the Maggia Valley.  Playfulness might be represented by Renzo Piano’s Pompidou Center in Paris. 


William Blake wrote that if we could see things truly as they are, they would be infinite.  He too reveals a hidden life that most of us are unaware of thourgh his poetry. 


“It is well for us ever to bear in mind,” writes Annie Besant, “that there is a hidden side of life – that each act, thought and word has consequence in the unseen world”  If we stretch our imaginations and envisage this to be true, how would it shape our views of what we think, say and write and how we work? 


Here’s the link to my latest article on architecture:

Copyright:  Debra Moffitt-Leslie, 2009.


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