Recently in Books
This book is in German, which may make it of limited interest to people who are not sufficiently familiar with the language.
Birgit Nilsson probably never heard of “the Protestant work ethic,” but she didn’t need to know it.
Over the past decade, there have been a plethora of works trying to identify the historical models for characters in Puccini’s famous opera Madama Butterfly.
The interpretive reception of medieval music begins, as John Haines lays forth in the present investigation, already during the latter period of the Middle Ages.
True to the title of this collection, the present volume of correspondence edited by Henry-Louis de La Grange and Günther Weiss — here translated, revised , and supplemented by Antony Beaumont — offers, to date, the most complete body of letters of Gustav Mahler to his wife Alma.
The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (the “New Grove”) stands as the definitive encyclopedia on music in the English language.1
Introduction: Philip Gossett is one of those rarities in academia: a scholar of the first order and a consummate teacher.
This is a very attractive book, which, in addition to the expected text, has many striking photos, a list of the operas performed in Chicago, indicating all the seasons in which each work was given, and a season by season chronology, limited to professional companies.
This is a highly impressive coffee-table table book, loaded with stunning photographs of productions, singers, composers, and even our nation’s glorious capital.
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
Some twenty years ago, a leading German musicologist remarked that the
music of Parsifal
It must not have been an easy life, being Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791). Perhaps even more so after the fact when scholars began to do their research and “wanna bes” began their intimations and psychoanalyzing. In the more seventy-five years of Mozart scholarship and its coming of age, one must ask: How much more is there to learn, to research?
This new volume from Yale University Press is one of those rare and treasured phenomena in Russian music scholarship that illuminate their subject from a new angle — that of cultural history. Indeed, Boris Gasparov's expressed goal in Five Operas and a Symphony is nothing less than turning the table on poetry, philosophy, and literary criticism that have for so long ruled the field of Slavic research, and elucidating them from a musical point of view.
At a time when the press has made the public aware of the difficult circumstances that exist for the symphony orchestra in the United States, it is refreshing to find a book that demonstrates unequivocally the nature of that institution and, as a consequence, its power in culture.
Shakespeare’s Macbeth is a weighty play, and Verdi’s Macbeth seems to be a weighty opera: the three volumes of this edition (two of the full score, plus a smaller Critical Commentary containing the critical notes and a description of the sources) weigh 16.6 pounds. It is remarkable to think that this is the first full score of either the 1847 original or the 1865 revised Macbeth ever published.
As far back as the Middle Ages, students (often only identified as Anonymous) have recorded the methods of performance imparted by their masters. In later centuries, such illustrious teachers wrote and published their own methods.
This book examines two of the more interesting musical pieces of the Romantic movement: Romeo et Juliette (1839) and La damnation de Faust (1846). Both were composed by Hector Berlioz (1803-69), and were very much constructed in a Gesamtkunstwerk mode where literature, music, and the other arts are fused together in a hybrid style that defies genre and categorization.
This is a collection of the original libretti to Puccini's Le Villi, Edgar, Manon Lescaut, La Bohème, Tosca, Madama Butterfly, La Fanciulla del West, La Rondine, Il Trittico (Gianni Schicchi, Il Tabarro, Suor Angelica), and Turandot in nine booklets within a cardboard slipcase.
Throughout the history of Poland, music has been an enduring force in its culture, and Polish composers were at the forefront of a number of developments in the twentieth century.
The Cambridge Companion to Stravinsky joins more than a dozen similar volumes published by the Cambridge University Press over the years and devoted to the life and works of a single composer. Each one traditionally is a collection of essays by leading scholars in the field, organized into three main sections — biography; works (mostly by genre); reception and posthumous legacy.
04 Oct 2007
HAYNES: The End of Early Music — A Period Performer’s History of Music for the Twenty-First Century
Once upon a time, there was something known as early music. This was not so much a repertoire, a musico-historical epoch, as an attitude, a counter-cultural group.
There was classical music, the boring old
standard-repertoire taught at conservatories, and played in the same old way
by people who fetishized the lineage of their teachers, and their teacher’s
teachers, and then there was early music, the music of Bach and his
predecessors, played by amateur performers (often musicologists) on “old”
instruments (recorder, harpsichords, viola da gamba), something which fit
right in with the reclaiming of folk music and folk instruments by the hippie
resistance to manufactured mass culture.
At the same time Albert Ayler and John Coltrane were exploring the outer
limits of free jazz, and Jefferson Airplane combining psychedelics and
folk-rock, amateur ensembles with krummhorns, sackbuts, shawms, and other
dead instruments were reviving centuries of forgotten repertoire from Machaut
onwards. Early music managed to be cutting edge by going deep into music
which had been only of interest to historians, and transgressive by
suggesting that this music and the music which followed did not belong only
to its self-anointed priesthood, which seemed to be only mumbling
half-understood inherited formulas, with no sense of the enlivening spirit
Time passes, and nothing from 1967 seems very current anymore, with the
possible exception of Purple Haze. The amateur (and hippie) tinge to
early music was washed away by decades of musicians who managed to perform
early music professionally on period instruments, and with an historical
awareness of the performance issues involved. Their success drew the barbed
words of musicologist Richard Taruskin, himself once an amateur
performing-musicologist, pointing out the lack of authenticity
involved in this recuperation of both unknown and well-known repertoire.
The End of Early Music may be seen as a response to the criticisms
of Taruskin and others.
Oboist Bruce Haynes is one who has been involved with
historically-informed performance for decades, since the first successes of
four or five decades ago, and unlike the younger Taruskin, whose recordings
are safely entombed on LP in music libraries, his recordings are still
commercially available. His survey of the history and issues involved with
period performance is compulsively readable. Though the volume has the
standard scholarly apparatus of notes and bibliography, there is nothing of
the dry-as-dust scholarly compendium about it. An innovation which is
particularly useful is the provision of sound examples at the publisher’s
site, even if means that the book can be best used with your network-enabled
computer close at hand.
The notion that concert-going has become a secular ritual substituting for
more explicitly religious rites has become widely accepted, but Haynes goes
farther in looking at the amount of fetishism and ritual involved in musical
interpretation and consumption in general, disassembling the various fetishes
we take for granted as part of musical experiences – the notion of the
canon, of absolute music, of genius, of score-fidelity, and others. Evidently
I sympathize with Haynes’ position, but even so I think it must be clear to
any reader that he has done his work well.
[This review has been cross-posted to Biddle Beat, The official blog of
the Music Library at Duke University.]