Oft-regarded to be idiosyncratic for a philosopher, Nietzsche accorded to his music that it played a role in the understanding of his philosophical thought. In particular, this was laden upon Hymn to Life. This song's melody was also used earlier in Hymn to Friendship for piano, which was once conducted by Nietzsche at Bayreuth for the Wagners and had, according to Cosima Wagner, led to the first sign of a break with his friend Richard, in 1874. In spite of Nietzsche's intonations about his music, his music has largely been regarded as a biographical curiosity, irrelevant to his philosophical work.
Nietzsche stated, after communicating the main idea of Zarathustra along with an aspect of his "gaya scienza", in Ecce Homo: "...that Hymn to Life...—a scarcely trivial symptom of my condition during that year when the Yes-saying pathos par excellence, which I call the tragic pathos, was alive in me to the highest degree. The time will come when it will be sung in my memory" (trans. Walter Kaufmann). The composition Hymn to Life was partly done by Nietzsche in August and September 1882, supported by the second stanza of the poem Lebensgebet by Lou Andreas-Salome.
During 1884, Nietzsche wrote to Gast: "This time, 'music' will reach you. I want to have a song made that could also be performed in public in order to seduce people to my philosophy." With this request Lebensgebet was further emended to Friendship and orchestrated by "maestro Pietro Gasti", who modestly denied any reference in publication to his alterations of what Nietzsche had done previously. (Some, on the other hand, including Benjamin Moritz, conclude that these changes are significant enough to demerit Life as an unfeigned work by Nietzsche and classify it as a work by Köselitz.) Thereafter it was published under Nietzsche by E. W. Fritzsch in Leipzig as the first edition amid the summer of 1887, which is Friendship simply put to Andreas-Salome's Lied and with orchestral alterations, entitled Hymnus an das Leben.
In October of the same year, Nietzsche wrote a letter to the German conductor Felix Mottl, to whom he expressed about his composition Life that which pertains to its high aesthetical import for his philosophical oeuvre: "I wish that this piece of music may stand as a complement to the word of the philosopher which, in the manner of words, must remain by necessity unclear. The affect of my philosophy finds its expression in this hymn." The following December, he wrote to Georg Brandes a letter in which he commented: "A choral and orchestral work of mine is just being published, a Hymn to Life. It is the one composition of mine that is meant to survive and to be sung one day 'in my memory'...."
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