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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Karl Höchberg   13 January 1879

Down Beckenham Kent

Jan. 13. 1879

Dear Sir,

I am much obliged for your note and for the Essay which you have sent me.1 I am a poor German Scholar and your German is difficult, but I think that I understand your meaning, and hope at some future time when more at leisure to recur to your Essay. As far as I can judge you have made a great advance in many ways in the subject; and I will send your paper to Mr. Edmund Gurney who has written and is much interested in the origin of the taste for music.2 In reading your Essay it occurred to me that facility in the utterance of prolonged sounds (I do not think that you allude to this point) may possibly come into play in rendering them musical; for I have heard it stated that those who vary their voices much, and use cadences in long continued speaking feel less fatigued than those who speak on the same note.

I beg leave to remain, dear Sir, | Yours faithfully | Charles Darwin


Höchberg’s note has not been found. The essay was probably Berg 1879 (‘Die Lust an der Musik’, The desire for music; see letter to Grant Allen, [before 21 February 1879]).
CD’s correspondence with Gurney on this subject has not been found; he discussed the origin of the musical abilities of humans and other animals in Descent 2d ed., pp. 566–73. For an early article by Gurney discussing the origin of music among other matters, see ‘On some disputed points in music’, Fortnightly Review n.s. 20 (1876): 106–30.


Berg, H. 1879. Die Lust an der Musik: nebst einem Anhang, Die Lust an den Farben, den Formen und der körperlichen Schönheit. Berlin: B. Behr’s Buchhandlung (E. Bock).


Thanks for essay on origin of taste for music. Will send to Edmund Gurney.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Karl Höchberg
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 145: 129
Physical description
C 1p

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11827,” accessed on 29 May 2023,