(Title in Polish - 'Programowa czy absolutna? 'Sonata ciepienia' Ignacego Dabrowskiego na tle dziewietnastowiecznego sporu o istote muzyki'). This article examines the role of Ignacy Dabrowski's 'Agony Sonata' in the context of the idea of the synthesis of the arts, popular with the adherents of Young Poland and the modernists at large. At the key point of the novella the main character Paweł Orlicz makes a paraphrase of a poem, which he has just heard in his head. The prose paraphrase follows closely the structure of a sonata. Any attempt at interpreting the meaning of this episode has to go back to the 19th-century debates about the nature of music. It was basically a dispute between believers in programmatic music, ie the idea that composing music consists in mimicking pre-existent narrations or images, and those who upheld the idea of absolute music, ie. music believed to be a direct emanation of an ideal 'higher realm'. The latter concept, it should be noted, was heavily indebted to the philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer. Given the representational nature of literature one would expect that the 'Agony Sonata' would be tilted in favour of the programmatic approach. Yet the creative process which it purports to record endows music with the function of the original impulse. Moreover, in the light of Maria Podraza-Kwiatkowska's definition of the symbol Dabrowski's novella reveals its fine congruence with the theory of absolute music. Seen from this perspective, it constitutes itself as a representation of a gradual and complete process of emanation. As a result literature can acquire the expressive potential of music and the idea of the synthesis of the arts find its full realization.