Curious Coincidences: The Parallel Lives of Fabre d'Olivet and Johann Friedrich Hugo von Dalberg

By Joscelyn Godwin
Professor of Music
Colgate University

Abstract. Fabre d'Olivet (1767-1825) and Johann Friedrich Hugo von Dalberg (1760-1812) began life in very different circumstances, but their activities, talents, opinions and beliefs show an extraordinary convergence. This is illustrated for both subjects under the headings of Family Origins and Early Life, Physique, Education, Financial Support, Romantic Bildungsreise, The French Revolution, Political Views, Secret Societies, Ecumenism, Belief in an Ineffable God, Christology, Spiritual History, Polar Origins, Reincarnation, Oriental Studies, Creative Inspiration, Novels, Poetry, Translations, Pianists, Songs, Instrumental Music, Sacred Music, Gregorian Chant, Non-Western Music, Moral Effects of Music, and Advice to Young Composers. Opening and concluding remarks consider these coincidences in historical and philosophical contexts.

What is the meaning, if any, of coincidence? Its roots remain obscure, for all the efforts by Carl Jung, Arthur Koestler, and others to unearth them.[1] Yet the appearance of separate shoots having an uncanny resemblance to each other cannot fail to provoke, or at least to entertain, the open-minded viewer. Such is the case with the lives and work of these two contemporaries. One, Fabre d'Olivet (1767-1825), is a large fish in the small pond of the French esoteric tradition. The other, Fritz von Dalberg (1760-1812), survives as he lived, eclipsed by his more famous brothers-though even these, Archbishop Karl Theodor, Napoleon's puppet monarch of the Rhine, and Wolfgang Heribert, intendant of the Mannheim Theatre and first presenter of Schiller's plays, are hardly household names.[2]

Despite the social disparity between the noble Dalbergs and the self-made Fabres, both subjects grew up in wealthy surroundings, with indulgent parents. Their talents were allowed to develop without undue constraint, and for the rest of their lives (not long ones, for they both died in their 50s) they continued to expand. Some would call these late-blooming universal men dilettantes, Goethes in miniature. One could have worse aspirations. As the tally below shows, their universality took them down many paths well worn by their contemporaries, as indeed by Goethe himself. It is in the details that the coincidences pile up.

In what follows, Fabre d'Olivet (in the left column) is represented as 'FdO'; Dalberg (on the right) as 'FvD'.

Family Origins, Early Life

FdO was born Antoine Fabre on December 8, 1767, to a prosperous bourgeois family in the town of Ganges, about 30 kilometers north of Montpellier. He later abandoned the 'Antoine' and adopted his mother's maiden name, hence our abbreviation 'FdO'. (MS, 111)

His family was Protestant. In 1756, his grand-uncle Jean Fabre (died 1797) had earned the sobriquet of 'l'honnête criminel' by taking his father's place when the latter was condemned to the galleys for holding a religious assembly. After seven years he was released, and his story became the plot of a successful play. (Cellier, 22-23)

FdO's father, Antoine Fabre (1737- after 1800), was a manufacturer of silk stockings. He owned large mulberry plantations, vineyards, and olive groves around Ganges, a factory in Paris, and sold his wares in the Flanders and the German states as well as in France. In Ganges, the family lived in a house that Cellier calls 'la plus belle, après le Château'. (MS, 19))

His mother, Suzanne Antoinette d'Olivet (dates unknown) also descended from a notable Protestant family, which had suffered much persecution during the reign of Louis XIV. She gave birth to ten children, of whom six survived: FdO and a younger son, and four daughters. (Cellier, 23)

FvD was born Johann Friedrich Hugo von Dalberg on May 17, 1760 (not 1752, as some sources state) in Mainz. He was generally known as 'Fritz', hence our chosen abbreviation of 'FvD'. The Dalbergs were one of the oldest and most prominent aristocratic families of the Holy Roman Empire. By tradition, whenever an Emperor was crowned, the Dalbergs would be summoned, and one of them would receive the first dubbing of knighthood. FvD's father, Franz Heinrich, Graf von Dalberg (1716-1776), was thus honored by Joseph II in 1764. He held various high bureaucratic posts, mainly working as a Privy Councillor for the Electoral Courts of Trier and Mainz. (E&G, 32-33)

FvD's mother, Maria Sophia von Eltz-Kempenich (1722-1763), was related to many aristocratic Rhineland families and brought a large dowry to her marriage. She gave birth to eleven children, of whom two daughters and three sons survived infancy. (E&G, 33-34) FvD, the youngest son, was three years old when she died.

The family owned several houses, including a 'palace' in Mainz, residences in Oppenheim, Mannheim, and a large country house in Herrnsheim, near Worms. (E&G, 46)


FdO was weak and delicate as a child, and afflicted by a stammer, which he overcame by force of will. He writes: 'dès l'âge de dix-huit ans, j'avais déjà vaincu un bégayement naturel, au point de le faire entièrement disparaître, et de parler et de déclamer agréablement; tandis qu'à dix ou douze ans, il était absolument impossible d'entendre un mot de ce que je voulais dire.' (MS, 78) Of his physique, he writes: 'J'étais, je l'avoue, au dessous de la taille ordinaire des hommes, qui est, en France de 5 pieds 2 à 3 pouces; puisque la mienne n'atteignait pas cinq pieds; mais j'étais bien pris dans ma petite taille, élancé, mince, la tête bien placée, bien proportionnée, le cou parfaitement attaché, la main jolie, des ongles d'une beauté rare, la jambe et le pied bien tournés. Mes cheveux, d'une finesse particulière étaient noirs; mes yeux, de la même couleur, assez grands, et régulièrement dessinés, étaient surmontés de sourcils très noirs et agréablement arqués. Mon regard ordinairement fort doux, s'animait à mesure que je parlais, et selon les sentiments qui m'agitaient, en manifestait toutes les nuances. Mon nez légèrement aquilin, et ma bouche qui annonçait un peu de mollesse, étaient parfaitement en harmonie avec l'ensemble de ma physionomie, qui était un mélange de douceur, de force, et de sensibilité voisine de la faiblesse.' (MS, 95, portrait as frontispiece) FvD was short, mildly deformed but attractive to women. One Sophie Becker, who visited the Dalbergs in 1784, recorded in her diary that '[Er] ist ein kleiner, buckelichter Mensch, aber höchst liebenswürdig. Geist und Güte haben in seinen Augen Sitz genommen, man vergißt seinen Buckel so völlig, daß man ihn lieben ... könnte, wenn er nicht durch seinen geistlichen Stand den Weibern entsagt hätte.' (E&G, 299; portrait on 11)


FdO was educated at home until the age of 11, when, to his great sorrow, he was separated from his mother and sent to Paris. He remained there for the next six years, presumably under the care of tutors. (The chapter of Mes Souvenirs dealing with this period is lost.) After his father had tried unsuccessfully to involve him in the silk factory at Ganges, he returned to Paris in the company of an older employee, a commercial traveller, remaining there from 1786-88. The intention was to train him as an international businessman by perfecting his German and learning English. (MS, 21) Meanwhile, he pursued his literary and musical interests, reading 'tous les poètes français de quelque distinction, et la plupart des italiens et des anglais dans leur langue'. (MS, 35) Of his education, he writes approvingly: 'le commerce était depuis longtemps en honneur en Angleterre; mais en France il était rare, avant la Révolution, de le voir allié avec une éducation aussi soignée que la mienne...' (MS, 52) He also accompanied his friend Bernard Sigault, a student of medicine, to his courses. 'Ainsi j'apprenais l'ostéologie, la myologie, la physiologie...' (MS, 30)

FvD was educated at home by French-speaking tutors, headed by the family chaplain. Like other patricians of their time and place, the family customarily spoke and wrote in French, rather than German. FvD had a very thorough grounding in history, religion, the humanities, classical languages, and the natural sciences. The report of his examination in all these subjects at the age of 11, which was privately printed, is astonishing for its breadth and depth. (E&G, 49-50)

From 1772-1774, FvD attended the University of Erfurt, living with his eldest brother, Karl Theodor von Dalberg (1744-1817) who held the position of Statthalter of the Elector of Mainz. He probably studied in the Philosophical Faculty. Between 1774 and 1777 he studied Law at the University of Göttingen, a Protestant institution which his other brother, Wolfgang Heribert von Dalberg (1750-1806) had attended. Erfurt remained his principal residence for the next 30 years. From his sixteenth year, he was a member of the city's 'Akademie nützlicher Wissenschaften' (Academy of Useful Sciences), of which Karl Theodor was the guiding light. (E&G, 58, 61)

Financial Means

FdO, as eldest son, was destined to inherit his father's silk stocking business and considerable land holdings. After settling in Paris in 1786, he worked conscientiously for the business: 'Il est vrai qu'au milieu de tout cela, je tenais fort bien nos livres de négoce, en parties doubles; et que les vers, le piano, le violon, n'empêchaient pas les factures et les lettres de voiture d'aller leur train.' (MS, 30). He reckoned that he would be able to retire at the age of thirty and thereafter devote himself entirely to creative work. (MS, 182)

However, as FdO approached this goal, disaster struck. During the Revolution, his father, it turned out, had exchanged notes of credit for worthless assignats. In 1797 his creditors compelled him to liquidate his business, sell his house in Ganges, and become bankrupt in all but name. What FdO had of personal wealth vanished as he took on the settlement of his father's affairs. The latter retired to his wife's native town of Saint-Hippolyte (MS, 250-252) where FdO arranged his employment, first as concierge, then as adjutant major du Génie at the local fort.

In 1799, FdO was obliged to take a salaried job, and became a civil servant at the Ministry of War. The duties were not onerous, and allowed him ample time for his studies. From 1800 onwards, as sous-chef, the salary was 3000 francs a year. A request for a raise on account of his marriage in 1805 was denied. (Cellier, 125) He retired at the end of 1809, on the grounds of ill-health, with a pension of 521 francs a year. (Cellier, 256) His wife had some independent means, and worked in a private school (Cellier, 125-126), allowing them to live in a two-storey house with a couple of servants. In 1823 they were legally separated, and nothing is known of FdO's finances after that.

FvD, as the youngest son, was destined for the Church. He was appointed to the Cathedral Chapters of Trier in 1768, Speyer in 1769, and Worms in 1770 (E&G, 54-56), though he did not participate or receive a stipend at that young age. On the death of his father in 1776 he inherited 12,556 Gulden and an annual allowance of 1000 Gulden. (E&G, 64) Once he qualified for regular chapter membership, which required ordination as a Deacon,[3] from Trier alone he probably received 3000 Gulden a year,[4] plus fees for attending chapter meeting and free housing, bread, and wine. After the secularization in 1802, the cathedral chapters were dissolved, and FvD received pensions totalling 1080 florins (= Gulden) for Trier, 1240 for Speyer, and 450 for Worms. The Trier pension was paid irregularly or partially. (E&G, 83) For purposes of comparison, 1 Gulden or florin = 2 1/2 francs.[5]

Romantic Bildungsreise

FdO spent the last three months of 1788 on a commercial trip, in the company of his father's agent Viala, through Péronne, Cambrai, Douai, Lille, Dunkirk, Ostend, Ghent, Antwerp, Brussels, Liège, Aix-la-Chapelle, Juliers, Düsseldorf, Cologne, Koblenz, Mainz, Frankfurt, Kassel, Mannheim, Heidelberg, Strasburg, Mulhouse, Basle, Berne, Fribourg, Lausanne, Geneva, and so back to Ganges. (Cellier, 30-31). The whole trip was overshadowed by an imaginary love-affair with a girl called Chrisna who lived in Basle, and with whom, when at last he met her, he enjoyed his first kiss (MS, 93). 'Ce voyage de trois mois lui [his father] paraissait une niaiserie, tandis qu'en réalité, il comptait pour moi plus que ma vie entière.' (MS, 102) Fifteen years later, the memory of Chrisna would inspire his song Souvenirs mélancholiques (see below, under 'Composer of Songs'). FvD, like many of his contemporaries, was inspired by the example of Goethe's Italian journey (1786-1788). In April, 1788, he invited his friend Johann Gottfried Herder, then Protestant Pastor in Weimar, to join him as his companion, at FvD's expense. When they met in August to begin their journey, Herder was disturbed to find FvD accompanied by an aristocratic young widow, Sophie von Seckendorf, who was clearly his mistress. As Schiller put it in a letter to a friend, 'Herder fand erstaunlich viel unschickliches darin, mit einer schönen Witwe und einem Domherrn in der Welt herum zu ziehen.'[6] After parting with Herder in Rome, FvD and Sophie continued to Naples, returning to Germany around the middle of 1789. We know of this journey only from Herder's point of view; to FvD it was evidently something of an idyll, and fond memories of Italy recur in his later writings. (E&G, 180-192) It is his only recorded instance of a romantic liaison.

The French Revolution

FdO attributes to himself a crucial role in the events of 1789. He was part of the uniformed guard at the Palais Royal when on June 30, 1789, a group of soldiers was arrested for disobedience, having refused to fire on civilians, and condemned to be shot. His friend Bernard Sigault asked him quickly to write a speech that would arouse the crowd on the soldiers' behalf. An hour later the speech was ready. Sigault declaimed it, whereupon, 'sur la motion d'un jeune homme, plus de dix mille bourgeois sont partis du Palai-Royal pour aller enfoncer le portes du fort l'Évêque.' (MS, 121) After releasing the soldiers, the crowd proceeded to Versailles, where the King agreed to a pardon. The rest followed inexorably: 'Ainsi l'évènement du premier juillet, entraîna celui du quatorze.' (MS, 127)

In the years following, FdO continued working for his father's business, and publishing verses, songs, plays, even an opera,[7] which earned him the name of 'patriot' without compromising him. He tells us that he was admitted to the Jacobin Club, embraced by the then President, Vicomte de Beauharnais, and rubbed shoulders with the Duc de Chartres (later King Louis-Philippe), but slipped away in July 1791, when the club began to fracture. (MS, 151-152, 158) Léon Cellier writes perceptively: 'Dans ses pièces révolutionnaires, il chante la liberté et la fraternité, et nous voulons bien croire que le descendant des huguenots persécutés accueillit avec joie l'idéologie libératrice; mais il ne fait aucune place à la notion de l'égalité.' (Cellier, 50)

FvD was making an intensive study of ancient history when the French Revolution broke out, and his remarks on it (found only in correspondence) show that he saw it in a broad, world-historical context. He held that revolution is never a good way to achieve political change. In 1790 he was writing that 'Die Geschichte lehrt uns, daß die besten Menschen aller Zeiten die folgsamsten Bürger waren; selbst, wenn Gesetze und Obrigkeit si mißhandelten, unterwarfen sie sich ihnen; selbst wenn die Staatsverfassung verdorben was, wagten sie es nicht, sich an ihr zu vergreifen.' (E&G, 259)

In May, 1791, FvD was in Paris in order to see things for himself 'et bien m'initier dans l'esprit de cette étonnante révolution.' His views became astonishingly positive, as he listed for his young correspondent[8] the names of the most reliable political figures, remarking that it was 'étonnant quel fond de lumière existe en France, et cette universalité de connaissance en matière d'administration seul est un garant bien sur que le fond de la Révolution, qui est devenu pour le people une vérité fondamentale, ne peut plus être renversé.' At this point, he still believed that a compromise could be reached with the monarchy. (E&G, 267) We have no evidence of his reactions once these hopes vanished with the flight of Louis XVI (June 20-21) and the Terror (1792-1794). His attention was henceforth on the repercussions in Germany, which touched him and his family directly.

Political Views

FdO moved with the times. After leaving the Jacobin Club, he kept his head down. By 1799 he had become a protégé of the War Minister Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, to whom he had proposed a scheme of financial reform. When Napoleon returned from Egypt and executed his coup d'état, FdO's name was found on a list of a potential members of a Republican government, drawn up in the expectation that Bernadotte, rather than Napoleon, would lead the nation. From this time on, if we believe FdO, Napoleon nurtured a personal antipathy toward him. (Cellier, 71-74) Yet in 1804, FdO was content to flatter the newly-crowned Emperor in his Oratorio (see below, 'Composer of Sacred Music').

After the fall of Napoleon in 1815, which unblocked the publication of La Langue Hébraïque restituée, FdO enthusiastically embraced the new monarchical order, and adjusted his writings to the current political climate. In a peroration to Histoire philosophique, he explains the various political systems in terms of his three principles, Providence, Will and Destiny. The only one that will bring peace and well-being to mankind, he concludes, is one subservient to Providence, and that means a theocracy under a Sovereign Pontiff, such as the world has not known since the Empire of Ram.[9] But it cannot be the property of any one religion or sect: those are matters for human choice, whereas the representative of Providence has to be above them all. For want of any better, writes the erstwhile Protestant, the Sovereign Pontiff had better be the Pope! (Cellier, 287-291)

FvD's political views were formed under the influence of Karl Theodor, his older brother by 16 years. His early writings on law and psychology show him, already in 1776, fully imbued with the spirit of the Aufklärung. They urge a philanthropic approach to government,[10] a paternalistic attitude to punishment[11] (i.e. to make people better, not to make them suffer), a subjection of pleasure to ethics,[12] and an acceptance of the role of evil in furthering the good.[13] Although a Domherr in holy orders, he resisted the intrusion of the Church into education, allying himself with the progressive wing.[14] Therefore it is not surprising to see him writing a sincere Trauergesang on the death of Emperor Joseph II in 1790. Michael Embach writes, 'Auch nach der Französischen Revolution und vor dem Königsmord, der ja viele deutsche Intellektuelle zur Distanzierung von ihren republikanischen Ideen führte, hält Dalberg an dem von Joseph II. vertretenen, reformabsolutistischen Herrschaftsideal fest.' Of course, he never questioned the monarchical form of goverment. (E&G, 277)

FvD could only watch from the sidelines as Napoleon rose to power and invaded Germany in the Koalitionskrieg. Karl Theodor threw in his lot with the French overlord. As Archbishop-Elector of Mainz, he sat next to the Pope at the banquet following Napoleon's coronation (E&G, 37). Soon he was Reichskanzler and Primate of Germany, then Prince-Primate of the Confederation of the Rhine. Unlike FdO, FvD did not live to witness the fall of Napoleon, and with it, that of his brother.[15]

Secret Societies

FdO, who always claimed to have reached the truth through his own efforts, did not belong to any secret society.[16] At the beginning and the end of his Histoire philosophique, he mentions Adam Weishaupt, founder of the Illuminati of Bavaria, in the most scathing terms: 'Epris des idées du philosophe français [Rousseau], il les revêtit des formes mystérieuses de l'illuminisme, et les propagea dans les loges des franc-maçons. On ne saurait se faire une idée de la rapidité avec laquelle cette propagation se fit, tant les hommes sont prompts à accueillir ce que flatte leurs passions. Pendant un moment la société européenne fut menacée d'un imminent danger.'[17] However, in the last year of his life (1824-25), FdO founded his own order, 'Le culte théodoxique universel'. Evidence for it rests on a group of documents entitled La Vraie Maçonnerie et la Céleste Culture, which include a description of the lodge and a quasi-masonic ritual, and a series of discourses to be addressed to the members of the lodge by the founder.[18] Whereas Freemasonry uses the symbolism of architecture, FdO's order uses that of agriculture. FvD became a Freemason at the age of 21, at the Worms lodge 'Johannes zur brüderlichen Liebe'. In 1784 he was mentioned under his masonic name of 'Massinissa' as one of the 'trustworthy and serviceable' Masons who might form a lodge of the Illuminati of Bavaria. In fact, both he and his brother Karl Theodor joined the latter order (as did Herder, Goethe, and Goethe's patron Duke Carl August, to name a few). Although the Illuminati were dissolved by 1788, FvD continued as an active Freemason, attending the lodge in Aschaffenburg until the year of his death. (E&G, 227-240)


FdO saw confessional differences as fast vanishing in his enlightened time. He writes: 'Si donc les Protestants trouvent que, relativement aux lumières du siècle, le culte catholique continue à offrir dans ses dogmes une trop grande obscurité, et dans sa doctrine une trop grande roideur; si, d'un autre côté, les Catholiques et les Protestants eux-mêmes s'accordent à regarder le culte réformé comme insignifiant et froid, incohérant et versatile; si les schismatiques grecs refusent moins leur assentiment à certains dogmes, qu'ils ne craignent l'influence papale; si les Juifs eux-mêmes, assez longuement persécutés pour une funeste erreur, souffrent de vivre isolés au milieu des nations européennes, il serait assurément très possible d'obvier à tous ces inconvénients. Des obstacles autrefois insurmontables ne le sont plus aujourd'hui.'[19] FvD did not write on the subject, but his conduct was eloquent. He himself was an ordained Canon of three Catholic cathedrals, yet a Freemason. When he undertook his Italian journey, he chose as travelling companion Herder, a Protestant pastor. How unimportant the Catholic world had become to him appears from his appeal in 1798 to another Lutheran friend, Rudolf Zacharias Becker, to help him find a little landed property in Thuringia (a prevalently Protestant region), to which he could retire from active and social life. (E&G, 299)

Belief in an Ineffable God

FdO's theology, though expressed in highly original terms, resembles that of Plato. He conceives of an ineffable One, beneath which are the three 'universal beings': Providence, Will and Destiny, comparable to the Platonic Ideas. 'Ces trois mondes et les trois Êtres universels qui les gouvernent, sont enveloppés et dominés par l'Eternel Dieu, l'Être des Êtres, principe et fin de toutes choses, qui les contient sans en être contenu, les enchaîne sans en être enchaîné et qui, hors du temps et de l'espace, trouve seul en lui-même le Principe de son éternelle essence.'[20] It is not the Eternal God, but one of the universal beings, Providence, that acts as the benevolent motor of history. FvD found his own theological conceptions well expressed in Herder's essay in dialogue form, Gott: Einige Gespräche,[21] whose intention had been to rescue Spinoza's idea of God from the charge of atheism. JvD writes to his friend on July 26, 1787: 'Ja edler Herder: Ihr Gott ist auch der meinige ... Ich kann mir das höchste Wesen nach keiner würdigeren Vorstellung denken. Weiter kann Vernunft nicht gelangen als zur Erkenntniß der nothwendigen ewigen Gesetze die in der Natur liegen und da nur Abdrücke der ewigen Allweisheit, Allmacht, Allgüte sind, eine höhere Erkenntnis Gottes kann uns nur durch Offenbarung werden.' (E&G, 175)


FdO was not a Christian. He classed Jesus as one 'divine man' among others, such as Ram, Moses, Orpheus, Buddha, Pythagoras, and Odin, all of them sent by Providence for a specific time and task. Jesus's particular mission hinged on the Resurrection, in which FdO had no reason to disbelieve: 'Trois ans lui suffirent pour changer la face du Monde. Mais sa vie, quelque longue qu'elle eût été, de quelques miracles qu'il l'eût remplie, n'aurait point suffi. Il fallait qu'il voulût mourir, et qu'il eût la force de ressusciter. Admirable effort de la nature humaine aidée par la Providence!'[22] FvD had a more orthodox attitude. The letter to Herder quoted above continues thus: 'Spinoza u. Christus nur in diesen beyden liegt reine Gotteserkenntnis-in Christus der geheime höhere Weg zur Gottheit; in Spinoza der höchste Gipfel wohin Vernunftdemonstration gelangen kann und der gewiß nicht wie Jacobi meint, zum Atheismo führt.' (E&G, 175) Much later, he sketched his idea of divine revelation: 'Aus Ur (oder Chaldäa), dem Lichtlande, ward durch den Stamm der Abrahamiden die Verehrung eines einigen Gottes bewahrt und bey den Hebräern fortgepflanzt, bis durch des Gottmenschen Sendung das Licht reiner Wahrheit in herem Glanz schimmernd sich allgemein verbreitete, und dem Polytheismus ein Ende machte.'[23]

Spiritual History

FdO's longest work is his universal history, first titled De l'état social de l'homme (1822) then reissued, unchanged, as Histoire philosophique du genre humain (1824). He tells that the mineral, vegetable and animal kingdoms were the object of three successive creations; mankind was the fourth. The latter first resembled animals, until the conscious attraction between the sexes started it on its destined path of humanisation. Thereupon mankind has never ceased to evolve. (Histoire philosophique, I, 46, 88, 95) The history continues from about 12,000 years ago, after the fall of Atlantis, gradually becoming less dependent on imagination and more on the interpretation of historical events within the context of FdO's metaphysical system, according to which world events are subject to three powers: Providence, Will, and Destiny. FvD, in his late work Über den Meteor-Kultus der Alten (1809), gives an abbreviated account of the spiritual history of mankind. First he outlines the development of the earth as it arose from the waters, the evolution of islands into mountains, the reverence of early mankind for natural phenomena, then the rise of philosophy: first the doctrine of emanation, linked to pantheism, then the worship of stars. Thereupon came a decline, as worship was paid to lower beings, then to idols. The important subsequent events are as quoted above, under 'Christology'.

Polar Origins

FdO names four races, but only concerns himself with the history of the white or Borean race. At its beginnings, which he does not attempt to date, 'Elle habitait les environs du pôle boréal, d'où elle avait tiré son origine.' On this matter, he accepts the authority of Olaus Rudbeck and Jean-Sylvain Bailly, whose proofs, 'insuffisantes dans leurs hypothèses, deviennent irrésistibles quand il n'est question que de fixer la première demeure de la Race blanche, et le lieu de son origine.'[24] FvD explains in a long philological-philosophical essay, Simorg der Persische Phönix,[25] the theory of Jean-Sylvain Bailly, according to which mankind originates from a far northern, if not actually polar homeland. Since, according to one legend, the Phoenix is said to live for 300 days, then remain dead for 65 days, this seems to allude to the situation at 71 degrees north, where the sun shines for 300 days and then disappears for 65. (E&G, 393) Because of the elusive, poetic style of the essay, it is impossible to be certain whether FvD believed this or not.


FdO promised, in his commentary on the Golden Verses of Pythagoras, to sort out the common misconceptions concerning the Pythagorean doctrine of the transmigration of souls. (Cellier, 197-199) This he never did, though it is certain that he had some form of reincarnationist belief. In one of the sermons to his cult, given in 1824, he states outright that Julie Marcel, a young woman born around 1776, whom he knew when she was 24, and who shortly after 'died practically in my arms,' defied Destiny by manifesting to him afterwards. However, after a kind of celestial combat with a demonic spirit, she was defeated, and 'tomba du monde des Essences dans celui des Réalités, et fut obligée d'y reprendre corps et d'y renaître pour y suivre encore une fois les chaînes de la vie mortelle.'[26] He goes on to say that she was reborn in 1810 to a distinguished family somewhere in Europe; he did not know if Destiny would allow him to meet her again.[27] FvD writes on at least two occasions with an evident sympathy for the doctrine of reincarnation or metempsychosis. In the early essay Betrachtungen über die leidende Kraft des Menschen, he suggests that rebirth and metempsychosis are the secret instruments for the eventual elimination of all human suffering. The return of humans to ever more developed stages of being leads them, step by step, to their own ideal conditions. (Summarized in E&G, 118) Much later, in 1809, he writes in his essay on the Phoenix: 'Das Hauptphilosophem der Menschheit, wie der Inhalt aller Mysterien, Mythen, Hymnen, und Dichtungen ist: Geburt und Tod, Zeugung und Zerstörung, verjüngtes im Kreis wiederkehrendes Leben, wechselnde Zeit nach Stunden, Monathen, Jahren, wiederkehrende sich verjüngende Formen in Zeit und Raum.' (Simorg, 208, quoted in E&G, 394)

Oriental Studies

FdO's Histoire philosophique pays much attention to India, China, Persia, and Egypt. Although the book is not presented in a scholarly style, but rather as a narrative that verges, in the early chapters, into fantastic fiction, FdO had obviously derived the seeds of his story from extensive study of the English and French Orientalists. He draws on them for his version of mythical Indian history, in which the figure of Ram (=Rama) plays a crucial role as founder of the first Universal Empire around 6700 B.C. He also gives important roles to Moses, Orpheus, and 'Foë' (Buddha), and lesser ones to Krishna, Lao-Tze, Confucius, Numa, Pythagoras, Odin, Apollonius of Tyana, and Jesus. FvD came to Oriental studies through the influence of Herder (E&G, 363), whose pioneering use of Oriental materials in his linguistic and philosophical works had been based on fairly inadequate sources. These were soon to be supplemented by the publications of Sir William Jones and other English Orientalists of the Calcutta School. After 1800, FvD played an important part in making this material accessible to German readers. (See under 'Translator', below.) He was helped in this when he visited London in 1795 by Richard Johnson, a former associate of Sir William Jones, who gave him additional materials for his translation of Jones's work on Indian music. His 'Drusenroman' (see below under 'Novelist') is a scholarly work as well as a novel, assembling all that was known at the time about the Druses of Lebanon and citing numerous sources in French, German, and English (listed in E&G, 382-384). On a smaller scale, his essay on the Phoenix and his book on the Meteor Cult synthesize recondite readings on ancient Persia and Syria. His interest in the latest Orientalists scholarship was still lively in 1811, when he corresponded with Georg Grotefend about the decipherment of Babylonian cuneiform script. (E&G, 397-398)

Creative Inspiration

FdO: 'Sans inspiration, il n'est point de poésie... mais encore l'inspiration ne suffit pas au poète; ce n'est pas assez qu'il possède l'Essence de la poésie, et qu'il puisse adapter à cet art divin, la forme qui est la versification. Il faut qu'il connaissse la nature physique et la nature morale dans toutes leurs nuances, qu'il ait exploré les principales sciences, et assez approfondi le coeur humain pour ce que rien de ce qui regarde l'homme ne lui soit étranger... Ainsi conçue la Poésie est réellement la Langue des Dieux, et le lien qui unit la Terre au ciel.' (MS, 25-26) FvD came to his idea of the artist's function and role through introspection. In his important essay Vom Erfinden und Bilden (1801), he distinguishes the Erfinden that is the initial inspiration of a work from the Bilden that is the practical elaboration of it. Without the technical ability for the latter, the inspiration will never come to expression. But he goes further than this, for what is expressed is merely the earthly manifestation of universal harmonic principles. Music is thus a vehicle of transcendence. Michael Embach sums up FvD's conclusion thus: 'Alles, was an Erkenntniskluft zwischen dem erkennenden Sujekt und einer ins Unendliche geweiteten Erkenntnislandschaft liegt, hat die Musik zu überbrücken.' (E&G, 225)


FdO wrote one full-length novel, Azalaïs et le gentil Aimar, Histoire provençale, traduite d'un ancien manuscrit provençal, published in three volumes by Maradan, An VII (1799). It is a romance of chivalry, set in the South of France in the 13th century. (Cellier, 65-67) FvD wrote one full-length novel, Mehaled und Sedli. Eine Drusen Erzählung. He finished it in 1799, and it was published some years later in German, French and English.[28] (E&G, 378-385)


FdO wrote much poetry during the first half of his life, both in Provençal and in French. His early verse was mostly collected in his short-lived journal L'Invisible (1797). His anthology of Provençal verse, Le Troubadour. Poésies occitaniques du XIIIe siècle (1803-1804), contains many pseudo-mediaeval contributions written by himself. (Cellier, 90-93) FvD's poetry was mostly written in order to set it to music. Examples are a funeral ode on the death of Emperor Joseph II (text in E&G, 272), and several lyric poems, marked by a stoical resignation and a longing for a better world. (E&G, 71-72, 523, 551) One independent poem is his epitaph on Herder, sent to his friend's widow in 1804. (Text in E&G, 291-292)


FdO made French verse translations of the Golden Verses of Pythagoras, originally in Greek, and of Lord Byron's poem Cain, in both cases expanding the translation to book length by the addition of a philosophical essay. His La Langue Hébraïque Réstituée (1815-16) contained a translation from the Hebrew of the first chapters of Genesis, presented in parallel texts in French and English. He also translated a sonnet of Petrarch into Provençal. (Cellier, 29n) FvD translated Sir William Jones's important study On the Musical Modes of the Hindus and the latter's English rendering of Jajadeva's Gita Govinda, Sir Francis Gladwin's rendering of Mohammed Fani's Dabistan, and shorter extracts from the Asiatic Researches. (E&G, 366-398) He also began, at least, a translation of Aristotle's Politics. (E&G, 257)


FdO learned to play the piano and the violin, and brought his piano with him when he returned from Paris to Ganges in 1786. By his own account, he was a capable player and improviser, as witness the following story: 'Je me souviens qu'à Ostende, étant allé rendant visite à un banquier anglais pour lequel nous avions des lettres de recommandation, on nous introduisit dans le salon où nous attendîmes quelque temps. Il y avait un piano ouvert. Je m'en approchai, je posai les doigts sur le clavier, je vis qu'il était bon. Je m'assis: je fis quelques accords; ma tête se monta; je préludai, et bientôt je me livrai à un enthousiasme musical, d'où il fallut que Viala [the commercial traveller accompanying him] me vînt tirer en me secouant par l'épaule, et me montrant, non seulement le banquier planté à la porte du salon, mais encore sa femme et sa fille qui m'écoutaient. Je devins rouge comme l'écarlate; je balbutiai un compliment qui fut bien reçu. On s'assit; je fus accablé d'éloges sur la manière dont j'avais touché l'instrument. La dame me pria de recommencer le morceau qui avait été interrompu. Je rougis encore, je dis qu'il me serait impossible, parce que ce n'était rien qu'une fantaisie improvisée. On se récria. Le banquier, sans ouvrir la lettre qu'il tenait à la main, nous retint à dîner, et traitant constamment Viala de M. le Précepteur, lui dit que si son intention était de conduire son élève en Angleterre, il lui donnerait des lettres pour les meilleures maisons de Londres. Alors, je pris la parole en anglais, et lui parlant sa propre langue avec assez de pureté, je le priai d'ouvrir la lettre. Il le fit; et sa surprise ne fut pas petite de voir que nous étions des marchands de bas de soie.' (MS, 51) FvD was raised in a music-loving family. His father bought a piano for his residence in Friedberg in 1756, and another one in 1769; he also bought violins for FvD's brothers. (E&G, 33n) As FvD's obituary in the Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung said, 'Pianoforte war sein Hauptinstrument, und er auf diesem sehr geschickt'. (E&G, 309) He excelled in private and public performances during his Göttingen years (E&G, 62), and later in the 'music academies' at the Archbishop-Elector of Trier's residence in Koblenz. There is little evidence of what exactly he played there, but he is recorded in 1783 as having played a piano concerto by Ernst Eichner (1740-1777), and in 1787 a concerto by Franz Xaver Sterckel (1750-1817).[29]


FdO, in his youth, composed many songs that were not published under his name.[30] He wrote music for domestic entertainments and occasional verses (MS, 20), and included musical settings of the poems in his novel Azalaïs. Among his lost compositions are the songs in his drama Le Sage d'Indostan, composed for the blind patients of the Institut National. (Cellier, 59) His most important song is Souvenirs mélancholiques (1804), which was his first essay in the 'Hellenic mode' that he purported to revive.[31] FvD's musical output is equally distributed between piano music and songs for voice and piano, the latter numbering over 50 in publications alone. He set texts in German, Italian, French, and English, in genres ranging from short, strophic songs to cantatas and melodramas (musically accompanied declamation). (Bibliography in E&G, 559-561)

Instrumental Music

FdO published only one instrumental work: Trois quatuors faciles et agréables for two flutes, viola and cello, with the influential publisher Pleyel (1804). No copies are known. The remnants of the score of his Oratorio (see below, under 'Sacred Music') show that he was competent at scoring for full orchestra. FvD's instrumental works all include his favourite instrument, the piano. They comprise about 20 sonatas for piano (both solo and for 4 and even 5 hands), violin sonatas, a Trio for violin, cello and piano, and a Quartet for oboe, horn, bassoon and piano. (Bibliography in E&G, 558-559) His sole work employing an orchestra is The Dying Christian to His Soul (see below).

Sacred Music

FdO wrote one large-scale sacred work which received a single known performance: an Oratorio à l'occasion de la fête du sacré et du couronnement de S. M. l'Empereur. He composed it, to his own words, to celebrate the elevation of Napoleon to Emperor in 1804. It was performed at the Protestant Consistorial Church of St. Louis du Louvre on December 21, under the direction of Jean-Baptiste Rochefort, with the orchestra of the Academy. The Introduction was set in the 'Hellenic mode'. The score appears to be lost.[32] FvD might have been expected to compose music for the church of which he was a dignitary, but he seems to have refrained in deference to Joseph II's direction to keep church music simple. (E&G, 339) He wrote several songs on sacred texts, including two settings from Klopstock's Der Messias, and one large-scale cantata which received a single known performance: The Dying Christian to His Soul. He had already set the text, by Alexander Pope, in a German version; this was an entirely different setting of the English original. According to the title page of the printed score (published London: Corri, Dussek & Co., for the Author, [1795]), this cantata by 'Baron Dalberg' was 'Performed and Sung by Mr. Braham at Mr. Salomon's Concert, Hanover Square.' John Braham was one of the most famous tenors of his day; Salomon's concerts were the venue, at this very time, of Joseph Haydn's 'London' Symphonies. For the problems of documenting the performance, see E&G, 365-366, 518-519.


FdO's interest in acoustics, or more particularly in psycho-acoustics, arose from his healing of the deaf-mute Rodolphe Grivel, described in Notions sur le sens de l'ouïe (1819). In that book he enters into matters of perception, the physiology of the ear, the difference between noise and tone, and the effects of high and low pitch. FvD wrote important works on acoustics, based both on speculation and on practical experiment. In his Versuche mit Glasstäben (1799) he describes an experiment for eliciting the harmonics from a piano string by means of glass rods. (E&G, 341-345) In Untersuchungen über den Ursprung der Harmonie (1800) he constructs a scheme of musical history based on the successive use of the harmonic series. (E&G, 345-352). In his study Die Aeolsharfe (1801), he investigates the acoustics of the Aeolian harp, which likewise sounds the harmonic series when set in vibration by the wind. (E&G, 353-355)

Ancient Greek Music

FdO devotes much of his unpublished book on music, La musique expliquée comme science et comme art, to a discussion of the musical system and aesthetics of the ancient Greeks. His own experiments in composing in the 'Hellenic mode' were an attempt to recapture some of the modal richness of the ancients, lost in modern music. FvD treats the music of ancient Greece in his Untersuchungen über den Ursprung der Harmonie (1800): it was there, he says, that the all-important connection of music with number was made. He returns to ancient Greek ideals in his essays Ueber griechische Instrumentalmusik und ihre Wirkung (1806) and Polyhymnia, oder vom Geist und den Wirkungen der Musik (1808), as a basis for explaining the shortcomings of modern music.

Gregorian Chant

FdO writes: 'Malgré les efforts que firent successivement en France, Pépin, Charlemagne et Louis le Débonnaire, le chant des églises ne consista longtemps qu'en une sorte de psalmodie rauque et monotone, dans laquelle saint Ambroise avait essayé, avant la réforme de saint Grégoire, d'entremêler quelques traits des chants antiques et quelques débris échappés à la destruction.' (La musique expliquée, 1928, 38) FvD writes: 'So nahm die durch die Griechen nach Europa geflüchtete Musik, bald den trüben melancholischen Geist des Mittelalters an; von den Freudenfesten und Volksschauspielen in die dunkeln Gewölbe der gothischen Kirchen verbannt, wandten sie die erstreuten Reste der griechischen Musik zum Chorgesang an; so entstand bei einer ohnehin nicht sangbaren Nation das traurig-schleppende Psalmodiren, eine Musik, die an Steifheit und Geschmacklosigkeit den gothischen Gebäuden und Gemählden des Zeitalters glich.' (Untersuchung, 42-43)

Non-Western Music

FdO included in La musique expliquée a chapter on the music of the Chinese, derived from the writings of Père Amiot, and one on the music of the Eastern Christians. His account of the early history of India in Histoire philosophique gives great importance to the musical system of Bharata, which he knew through Sir William Jones's writings and other publications in Asiatic Researches. FvD as noted above, translated Sir William Jones's book on Hindu music, which included the first published anthology of non-Western melodies, and expanded it with material given him by Richard Johnson and collected from Asiatic Resarches. The book, incidentally, was dedicated to Joseph Haydn, presumably with permission, as Haydn and FvD were in London simultaneously.[33]

Cosmic Harmony

FdO, as an admirer of Pythagoras, taught a metaphysics founded on the four first numbers, and their manifestation as the Harmony of the Spheres as the key to the musical system. In an essay entitled 'Coup d'oeil sur la musique sacrée,' he writes: 'Le nombre 12 formé du ternaire et du quaternaire est le symbole de l'univers et la mesure du son.'[34] Also: 'Le septénaire musical diatonique, issu de la réunion des deux principes, s'applique, dans l'harmonie céleste, au septénaire planétaire... Ce septénaire planétaire, en se mouvant dans le dodécaèdre universel représenté par le nombre radical 12, en est la mesure parfaite, et constitute l'ordre diatonique des sons et les modes musicaux qui en sont la suite.'[35] FvD's three 'allegorical dreams', Blicke eines Tonkünstlers in die Musik der Geister, Die Aeolsharfe,[36] and Polyhymnia,[37] are all suffused with the imagery of the Harmony of the Spheres, and with the Platonic idea of the descent of the soul through a musically sounding cosmos. Just as in Platonism, the material world is an image of the world of Ideas, so earthly music is an echo of a higher music. (E&G, 315-322, 325, 330)

Moral Effects of Music

FdO writes: 'Ce n'est jamais par ses formes extérieures que la musique exerce sa véritable puissance; ce n'est pas même au moyen des éléments qui servent à developper ces formes; c'est au moyen des principes qui les constituent. Toutes les fois qu'on s'est imaginé que les anciens faisaient entendre d'une mélodie ou d'une harmonie quelconque, abstraction faite de toute autre chose, les merveilles qu'ils attribuaient à la musique, on s'est trompé. Cette mélodie, cette harmonie n'étaient que l'enveloppe physique d'un principe intellectuel connu, dont la présence éveillait dans l'âme une pensée analogue, et produisait par son moyen, non seulement le plaisir des sens dépendant de la forme, mais l'affection morale dépendante du principe. Cette affection morale ne pouvait jamais manquer son effet...'(La musique expliquée, 1928, 20) FvD writes that the highest aesthetic principle of the Greeks was 'daß der Künstler in ihren Werken nur Muster wahrhaft schöner und edler Sitten aufstellen sollten.' Thus their music possessed the qualities of calmness, equilibrium and harmony that were to be mirrored in the body and the soul; and for us, too, the Beautiful should be joined indissolubly to the Ethical.[38] In a late article, Die Chöre,[39] he returns to the question of what kind of church music best contributes to the improvement of morals, and concludes that nothing less than a new style is needed. (E&G, 338-339)

Advice to Young Composers

FdO concludes La musique expliquée with a chapter on this subject. The many words of advice convey the principal theme, which is stated thus: 'Sentez fortement ce que vous voulez faire sentir. Il n'y a pas, je vous assure, d'autre principe de l'expression musicale. C'est pour le compositeur, comme pour l'executant, la seule voie d'y arriver.' (La musique expliquée, 1928, 108) He also counsels young composers to study poetry and declamation, and implies that pure instrumental music is insufficient in itself. FvD writes towards the end of Polyhymnia in praise of the modern trend towards absolute, instrumental music, free from words. (E&G, 334) However, for aspiring composers he suggests taking as examples the more solemn arias of The Magic Flute, and similar movements in the operas of Gluck and Sacchini, so as to create a music that is not just tasteful but morally improving. He closes the book with the words: 'Sie in unsren Herzen anzufachen, Tugend und Sittlichkeit durch Hilfe der Töne beim Volk im allgemeinen sowohl, als im engen häuslichen Zirkel wirksam und beliebt zu machen, ist der höchste, schönste Zweck der Musik.' (Polyhymnia, 118, quoted in E&G, 336)

After reading the above tabulation, some might invoke the Zeitgeist of the decades around 1800, and show how easily every single instance can be paralleled in innumerable other figures. The era, after all, did not lack for pianists, Orientalists, or believers in a transcendent Deity. Everyone was affected in some way by the French Revolution and by the rise and fall of Napoleon. But while it is unusual enough that one person should range competently over all these areas, that two-one in France and one in Germany-should have covered so nearly the same ground is truly remarkable.

In broad terms, it is their dual nature as savants and artists that most obviously links Dalberg and Fabre d'Olivet. As to the first, they were both universal in their interests, omnivorous in their reading, and satisfied only with a global approach to their material. Knowing the classical world, as every educated person did, was not enough: they wanted to take the whole of humanity into their purview. Hence Dalberg's voracious reading of travel literature, and the eagerness on both their parts for the revelations of the English Orientalists. When they write about music, in Dalberg's case, or poetry, in Fabre's, it is with a similarly global ambition: they survey and interpret its entire history, from the beginnings of culture to the present, and, not content with that, consider it in a cosmic and metaphysical context.

As for their creative work, they were both gifted musicians. Dalberg was an accomplished pianist and a much-published composer, not inferior to the average Kapellmeister of his time. Fabre's musical talents are harder to judge because his major compositions are lost, and the only witness to his pianistic and improvisatory talents is himself; but how many of his contemporaries could even begin to compose and score an oratorio, or understand Greek musical theory? These were amateurs in the sense of not earning their living through their art, but they had a self-confidence equal to any professional. Dalberg, bearer of a famous name and kin to the highest in the land, a prodigy of universal education, need bow to no one. Fabre inherited the defiant pride of his Huguenot ancestors and the self-respect of the wealthy and free-thinking bourgeois, to which he added the conviction of his own theosophic uniqueness. More poet than musician, and certainly his own keenest fan, he thought nothing of proposing, incidentally to his translation of the Golden Verses of Pythagoras, a complete overhaul of the principles of French poetry.

What identifies them as candidates for the 'Super-Enlightenment' is the further dimension to their erudition and creative work, for which the terms illuminé and aufgeklärt take on an enhanced, spiritual meaning. They both started out as men of the Enlightenment; illumination came later. Fabre d'Olivet's first thirty years were spent on musical and literary projects, some of them serious, others quite frivolous like his best-selling book of party games, Le Savant de la Société (1800 and reeditions). Between 1800 and 1805, he went through a transformative period of study and meditation, from which he emerged, as Cellier says, a new man, possessing the key to understanding the Hebrew language, hence the Hebrew Bible, hence the lost metaphysical principles encoded in the latter. How much this was due to sheer reasoning, as he claimed, how much to the experiments with Mesmeric mediumship that he undoubtedly performed, and how much to the reading of Jacob Boehme and Louis-Claude de Saint-Martin, whom he respectfully repudiated, we shall never know. In any case, his solution is entirely his own. Once the theory of the three principles of Providence, Will and Destiny was in his possession, he found that he could understand the cosmogonic workings of the universe, the complex nature and destiny of the human being, and the course of history. He demands no faith of his reader: his theosophy is all logical and coherent, however bizarre its claims and poetic in its expression. In this respect he is much closer to Charles Fourier and Hoëné Wronski, whose systems, sparked by intuition, were worked out in quasi-scientific detail, than to Saint-Martin, Pierre-Simon Ballanche, Pierre Leroux, and the other Christian esotericists of the early Romantic era.

Dalberg moved on the one hand among the French-speaking aristocracy, reformers of education, enthusiasts for Reading Circles and Scientific Academies; and on the other, among artistic figures like his teachers Ignaz Holzbauer and Abbé Vogler, erudite ones like Johannes von Müller, Joseph Goerres, and Karl Windischmann, literary ones like Wieland,olHH Herder and other members of the Weimar circle. True to his native gifts, he came to his illumination through music. In his long essay Vom Erfinden und Bilden (1791), he performs a psychological self-examination of the act of composing, and develops it into a kind of Hermetic mysticism, in which music serves as the means of correspondence between planes of being, a bridge between physical and spiritual experience. He had already expressed this in mythic form in his 'allegorical dream' Blicke eines Tonkünstlers in die Musik der Geister (1787), the neglected founding document of the transcendent musical Romanticism that writers such as E.T.A. Hoffmann, Novalis, Tieck and Wackenroder promoted after the turn of the century.[40]

These last remarks remind us that although the movement studied in this collection is a predominantly French phenomenon, it was meat and drink for the German-speaking world. There a parallel list of representatives would include none less than Hamann and Herder, Goethe and Schiller, Karl von Eckartshausen, Franz von Baader and Friedrich von Schelling, and all the Naturphilosophen whom Antoine Faivre has exhumed and restored to their proper position as links in the esoteric tradition.[41] The German Enlightenment was seldom less than 'super'.

Finally, the very curiousness of these coincidences deserves a comment. I have no rational explanation for it, but I find it so aesthetically pleasing that I cannot let it go. To borrow Fabre d'Olivet's language, it is like a simultaneous dispensation of Providence; to use Dalberg's, it is like the resonance or echo of a single complex harmony. Only by slipping, for a moment, into their modes of thought can one appreciate it. But that is true of poetry and music alike: only by accepting, albeit temporarily, laws that transcend material reality and commonplace logic can one receive what they have to offer.


[1] The reference is to C. G. Jung, 'Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle' in Jung and Wolfgang Pauli, The Interpretation of Nature and the Psyche, New York: Pantheon Books for the Bollingen Foundation, 1955, and to Arthur Koestler, The Roots of Coincidence, London: Hutchinson, 1972.

[2] The subjects of this article have each received exhaustive scholarly treatment, which is unlikely to be superseded except in details. The standard work on Fabre d'Olivet is Léon Cellier, Fabre d'Olivet: contribution à l'étude des aspects religieux du romantisme, Paris: Nizet, 1953; cited here as 'Cellier'. Cellier made use of the manuscript of Fabre d'Olivet's incomplete memoirs, later edited by Cellier and published as Fabre d'Olivet, Mes Souvenirs, Nice: Bélisane, 1977; cited here as 'MS'. The standard work on Dalberg is Michael Embach and Joscelyn Godwin, Johann Friedrich Hugo von Dalberg (1760-1812): Schriftsteller, Musiker, Domherr, Mainz: Selbstverlag der Gesellschaft für mittelrheinische Kirchengeschichte, 1998 (Series 'Quellen und Abhandlungen zur mittelrheinischen Kirchengeschichte', Band 82); cited here as 'E&G'.

[3] In 1784 FvD was ordained subdeacon, then deacon. (E&G, 65-68) He was never ordained a priest, unlike his brother Karl Theodor, who was ordained in 1787 and acquired his first bishopric the following year. (E&G, 36)

[4] The source quoted in E&G, 69, states '3.000 Goldgulden', but from other data it seems more likely to have been silver Gulden, or Reichsgulden, also called florins. (A Goldgulden = a gold ducat, worth approximately 5 silver florins.)

[5] See E&G, 63, for a statement by FvD's sister in 1777 that she needs 800-900 francs a year for her support a very modest sum that probably excluded housing; also for the authors' estimate that 3000 Gulden a year was approximately 8 times the average sufficient basis for living, i.e. that the latter was about 375 Gulden, equivalent to 1125 francs a year.

[6] Schiller to Christian Gottfried Körner, November 14, 1788, quoted in E&G, 190.

[7] Toulon soumis, music by Jean-Baptiste Rochefort, libretto by FdO, performed at the Opéra in February, 1794. (Cellier, 48)

[8] Emmerich Joseph von Dalberg (1773-1833), son of FdV's brother Wolfgang Heribert, later Staatsminister in Baden and Duc de France.

[9] The Holy Alliance does not qualify: it was, says FdO, merely a political creation. Histoire philosophique du genre humain, édition corrigée, Paris: Éditions Traditionnelles, 2 vols., 1979, 1981, II, 400.

[10] See Ueber die Rechtschaffenheit, Erfurt, 1776; E&G, 92-96.

[11] See Ariston oder über die Wirksamkeit der peinlichen Strafgezze. Ein Dialog, Erfurt, 1782; E&G, 96-104.

[12] See Glückseligkeit, in Deutsches Museum, Leipzig, 1782, II, 99-103; E&G, 106-110; Theokles an Alydion, Von der Dauer des Genusses, in Deutsches Museum, Leipzig, 1783, II, 125-135; E&G, 110-113.

[13] See Betrachtungen über die leidende Kraft des Menschen, Mannheim, 1786; E&G, 113-121.

[14] This is a brief allusion to a major episode of FvD's life, his chairmanship of the Trier Schulkommission (1785-89), during which he worked to reconstruct public education along aufgeklärte principles. See E&G, 131-169.

[15] Karl Theodor made a soft landing, retaining the position of Archbishop of Regensburg until his death.

[16] Such is the conclusion of Léon Cellier. See his edition of FdO's La vraie maçonnerie et la céleste culture, Paris: La Proue, 1973, 26.

[17] Histoire philosophique, I, 111.

[18] These documents were discovered after World War II, having been sequestered by the German occupation at the headquarters of the Theosophical Society. See La vraie maçonnerie, 13-14.

[19] Histoire philosophique, II, 380.

[20] La vraie maçonnerie, 105.

[21] J. G von Herder, Gott: Einige Gespräche, Gotha, 1787.

[22] Histoire philosophique, II, 42.

[23] Ueber Meteor-Cultus der Alten, vorzüglich in Bezug auf Steine, die vom Himmel gefallen. Ein Beytrag zur Alterthumskunde, Heidelberg, 1811, 21-22, cited in E&G, 407.

[24] Histoire philosophique, I, 80, 82.

[25] 'Simorg der Persische Phönix, eine Mythe', in Fundgruben des Orients, 1 (1809), 199-208.

[26] La vraie maçonnerie, 80.

[27] La vraie maçonnerie, 81.

[28] Original ed., Frankfurt: in der Andreäischen Buchhandlung, 1808; Mehaled et Sedli, histoire d'une famille druse, Paris: F. Schoell, 1812; Mehaled and Sedli; or, the History of a Druse family: with some account of the Druses, an ancient people of Syria, London: Gale & Fenner, 1816.

[29] Gustav Bereths, Die Musikpflege am kurtrierischen Hofe zu Koblenz-Ehrenbreitstein. Mainz: Schott, 1964, pp. 291, 296.

[30] These appear to be irretrievable. The only evidence for them is as follows: 'Comme musicien, il est auteur d'un grand nombre de Romances, qui ne portent pas son nom...' Note in La France Protestante, Paris, 1856-, vol. V, 53.

[31] Facsimile in J. Godwin, Music and the Occult: French Musical Philosophies 1750-1950, Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 1995, 225-226.

[32] For the text, see Miscellanea Fabre d'Olivet I-IV, ed. Gilbert Tappa, Nice: Bélisane, [1982], 3-8. For a facsimile of three pages of the score, see Bélisane, Nice, 1978, 114-116. These were reproduced from the score, recently discovered in the Bibliothèque de l'Histoire du Protestantisme, Paris, but by 1985 all my efforts to locate it in that library were in vain.

[33] On FvD's relation to Haydn, see E&G, 365.

[34] La musique expliquée comme science et comme art, ed. J. Pinasseau, Paris, Dorbon Ainé, 1928, 60.

[35] La musique expliquée, 62-63.

[36] Die Aeolsharfe. Ein allegorische Traum, Erfurt, 1801.

[37] Polyhymnia oder vom Geiste und den Wirkungen der Musik, in Fantasien aus dem Reiche der Töne, Erfurt, 1806, 47-122.

[38] Polyhymnia, 75-76, 108.

[39] 'Die Chöre, oder: Vom Geist des christlichen Gesanges' in Sammlung einiger in dem Frankfurter Museum vorgetragenen Arbeiten, 1, (1810), 70-79.

[40] Dalberg's priority is recognized in Rudolf Schäfke, Geschichte der Musikästhetik in Umrissen, 3rd ed., Tutzing: Hans Schneider, 1982, 326-327; Christina E. Brandtner, 'Friz Dalbergs >Blicke eines Tonkünstlers in die Musik der Geister< und Wilhelm Heinrich Wackenroders Äußerungen zur Musik' in Aurora. Jahrbuch der Eichendorff-Gesellschaft, 49 (1989), 203-209.

[41] See A. Faivre, Philosophie de la Nature. Physique sacrée et théosophie, XVIIIe-XIXe siècle, Paris: Albin Michel, 1996.