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A musical challenge to our view of the past

Music and the Exotic from the Renaissance to Mozart

In Musical Exoticism (Cambridge 2011) Ralph P. Locke undertook an extensive appraisal of the portrayal of the ‘Other’ in works dating from 1700 to the present day, an enquiry that embraced a wide range of genres from Baroque opera to Algerian rap, and which was at once musical, cultural, historical, political and ethical.

Coughing and Clapping: Investigating Audience Experience

Is it okay to tweet during a concert, if it allows those who couldn’t attend to engage with the performance and the music? Or is it really just distracting, on top of all the coughing?

How to Write About Music: The RILM Manual of Style

RILM Abstracts of Music Literature is an international database for musicological and ethnomusicological research, providing abstracts and indexing for users all over the world. As such, RILM’s style guide (How to Write About Music: The RILM Manual of Style) differs fairly significantly from those of more generalized style guides such as MLA or APA.

Book Review: Opera in the British Isles, 1875 – 1918

Opera in the British Isles might seem a rather sparse subject in the period 1875 to 1918. Notoriously described as the land without music, even the revival of the native tradition of composers did not include a strong vein of opera.

Diary of a Redneck Opera Zinger

Heldentenor Jay Hunter Morris tells us about the lean times when the phone did not ring, as well as those thrilling moments when companies entrusted him with the most important roles in opera.

Weill's Musical Theater: Stages of Reform

Commonly viewed as a ‘second-rate’ composer — a European radical persecuted by the Nazis whose trans-Atlantic emigration represented a sell-out to an inferior American popular culture —

Opera from Cambridge University Press

Although part of a series entitled Cambridge Introductions to Music, Robert Cannon’s wide-ranging, imaginative and thought-provoking survey of opera is certainly not a ‘beginners’ guide’.

James Melton: The Tenor of His Times

Those of us of a certain age have fond memories of James Melton, who entertained our parents starting in the 1930s and the rest of us in the 1940s and beyond on recordings, the radio, and films.

Essays on Italo Montemezzi - D'Annunzio: Nave

An important new book on Italo Montemezzi sheds light on his opera Nave. The author/editor is David Chandler whose books on Alfredo Catalani have done so much to restore interest in the genre.

Alfredo Catalani — A new perspective on later Italian opera

Assumptions about later Italian opera are dominated by Puccini, but Alfredo Catalani, born in the same town and almost at the same time, was highly regarded by their contemporaries. Two new books on Catalani could change our perceptions.

The Sopranos — Dissecting opera’s fervent fans

I was feeling cowed by Herr Engels. The four of us had retired from the Stravinsky performance to a Billy Wilder-themed bar in Berlin, the least horrible late-night option in the high end mediocrity of Potsdamer Platz.

Opera Remade, 1700-1750

This substantial book is one of the latest in the Ashgate series of collected essays in opera studies and draws together articles from a disparate group of scholarly journals and collected volumes, some recent, some now difficult to locate.

Operatic Advice and Counsel…A Welcome New Reference Book

Vincent Giroud’s valuable new French Opera, a Short History, is in hand and very welcome it is.

Lotfi Mansouri: An Operatic Journey

The noted operatic impresario and stage director, Lotfi Mansouri, with the professional help of writer Donald Arthur, has issued his memoirs under the title Lotfi Mansouri: An Operatic Journey.

Cosima Wagner — The Lady of Bayreuth

Originally published in German as Herrin des Hügels, das Leben der Cosima Wagner (Siedler, 2007), this new book by Oliver Hilmes is an engaging portrait of one of the most important women in music during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Operatic Italian

Robert Stuart Thomson’s Italian language learning text, Operatic Italian, promises to become an invaluable textbook for aspiring operatic singers, voice teachers, coaches and conductors.

Musical Exoticism: Images and Reflections

Ralph Locke’s recent book on Musical Exoticism is both an historical survey of aspects of the exotic in Western musical culture and a discussion of paradigms of the exotic and their relevance for musicological understanding.

Magic Flutes & Enchanted Forests: The Supernatural in Eighteenth-Century Musical Theater

Readers may recognize the author of this book, David J. Buch, a specialist on the origins of the libretto to Mozart’s Magic Flute.

Opera from the Greek

Perhaps it will be enough to tell you that I wasn’t halfway through this book before I searched the web for a copy of Professor Ewans’s study of Wagner and Aeschylus’s Oresteia, and ordered it forthwith: It has to be good.



Exploring Haydn: A Listener’s Guide to Music’s Boldest Innovator
17 Jun 2006

HURWITZ: Exploring Haydn—A Listener’s Guide to Music’s Boldest Innovator

The world of J.S. Haydn is one gravely underappreciated and undervalued. He never earned the right to a 1980’s bio pic like Mozart or was appreciated and saluted in pop culture through early rock n’ roll like Beethoven.

Exploring Haydn: A Listener’s Guide to Music’s Boldest Innovator

David Hurwitz, Amadeus Press, 2005

ISBN: 1-57467-116-2

$27.95  Click to buy

Even on a scholarly level Haydn’s music is passed over in favor of who and what he inspired, innovated and crafted. His personal life never caught the attention of the public as he was probably never prone to smashing mirrors in local palaces either.

The elemental importance of Haydn’s music and artistry is brought to the forefront in David Hurwitz’s new book, “Exploring Haydn: A Listener’s Guide to Music’s Boldest Innovator”. Hurwitz mentions early on how Haydn is commonly ignored. He notes that his music holds many keys to one’s understanding of the immensity of Haydn’s influence on classical music that followed shortly after his time up through to today.

Though this book is more than a mere protest to prove how much Haydn was the father of the symphony. Instead, like Hurwitz’s other ‘Unlocking The Masters’ books, it scintillates in description and delves into the inner workings of not only Haydn’s music but the importance of his innovations at the time, his creativity and how these both carry on through to today.

Ultimately, the passion for the process in which Haydn composed and how the music developed over time and how the listener should hear these hidden masterpieces is the crux of Hurwitz’s book. The author’s goal is to show the novice or beginner music fan what one can expect from engaging in Haydn’s music. He takes apart each piece and examines it carefully and skillfully. Truly, by listening to either one of the accompanying compact discs then reading along with Hurwitz, a new level of perception and understanding music is presented to the zealous listener. His descriptions are useful to the unacquainted ear and he opens a new dimension of listening appreciation. Hurwitz is able to described the music without completely patronizing the reader into submission. With the knowledge one can cull from this book, anyone will not feel stifled by Hurwitz’s writing. If anything he promotes the usage of the reader’s imagination.

An inundated listener is taken on a pragmatic journey through the wild, colorful and often humorous realm of Haydn. Movements from symphonies and string quartets from various eras of the composer’s life and career are highlighted and poured over and dissected with a refreshingly friendly scholarly flair. Along the way, the music novice is given biographical information on the master composer. The music is discussed along with the development and evolution of Haydn’s compositions which give the reader a well rounded look into the creative process.

This book is a nearly infallible piece of work for the inexperienced and for those eager to learn more not only about Haydn, but also about music itself. It falls short only when it attempts to simplify certain matters. For example, when explaining the difference between major and minor we are left with an almost exasperating conclusion of: “major=happy, minor=sad”. Surely there is a middle ground for one to stray far from the philosophical and bloated writings of say a Theodore Adorno and yet not have to simply too far in the other direction..

However, these are merely picayune side notes rather than a weighty complaint. This book may not find it’s way into the hearts of the cognoscenti, but should serve its justice more fittingly in the class rooms of high school students on down. With the aid of this book many may find that there isn’t so much mystery to understanding music but the joy in discovery as Mr. Hurwitz shows. The overall experience of “Exploring Haydn” is one that educates with skill, patience and devotion; it wishes nothing more but for the reader to love and appreciate this underrated composer as much as the author.

B. Fraipont

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