History of Music

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    One autumn evening, not long after ending a stint as a pop music critic, Eric Siblin attended a recital of Johann Sebastian Bach's Cello Suites - and fell deeply in love. So began a quest that would unravel three centuries of mystery, intrigue, history, politics, and passion. "The Cello Suites" is the story of that quest, and weaves together three dramatic narratives: the first features Bach and the missing manuscript of the suites; the next, the legendary Spanish Catalan cellist Pablo Casals and his historic discovery of the music; and finally, Eric Siblin's own infatuation. From the back streets of Barcelona to archives, festivals, and conferences, and even to cello lessons, Siblin attempts to unravel the enigmas that continue to haunt this mesmerisingly beautiful music.
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    A century after his death, Gustav Mahler is the most important composer of modern times. Displacing Beethoven as a box-office draw, heard in Hollywood films and on state occasions, his music inspires particular devotion. Some believe it helps heal emotional wounds, others find intellectual fascination in its contradictory meanings, and many feel that the music captures the yearnings and anxieties of our post-industrial society. In this highly original account of the composer's life and work, Norman Lebrecht explores the Mahler Effect, asking why Mahler's music has become the soundtrack to our twenty-first-century lives.
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    Published in the run-up to the 200th anniversary of the composer's birth in 2013, and written by one of the most distinguished Wagner scholars in the world, this will be the Wagner book of the bicentenary. Richard Wagner (18131883) is one of the most influential and also one of the most polarizing composers in the history of music. Over the course of his long career, he produced a stream of spellbinding works that challenged musical convention through their richness and tonal experimentation, ultimately paving the way for modernism. This book presents an in-depth but easy-to-read overview of Wagners life, work and times. Making use of the very latest scholarship much of it undertaken by the author himself in connection with his editorship of The Wagner Journal Millington reassesses received notions about Wagner and his work, demolishing ill-informed opinion in favour of proper critical understanding It is a radical and occasionally controversial reappraisal of this most perplexing of composers. The book considers a whole range of themes, including the composer's original sources of inspiration; his fetish for exotic silks; his relationship with his wife, Cosima, and with his mistress, Mathilde Wesendonck; his anti-semitism; the operas proto-cinematic nature; and the turbulent legacy both of the Bayreuth Festival and of Wagnerism itself. The volumes arrangement unique among books on the composer combines an accessible text, intriguing images and original documents in carefully co-ordinated sections, thus ensuring a consistently fresh approach.
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    The music of the medieval, Renaissance, and baroque periods have been repeatedly discarded and rediscovered ever since they were new. An interest in music of the past has been characteristic of a part of the musical world since the early 19th century. The revival of Gregorian chant in the early 19th century; the "Cecilian movement" in later 19th-century Germany seeking to immortalize Palestrina's music as a sound-ideal; Mendelssohn's revival of Bach: these are some of the efforts made in the past to restore still earlier music. In recent years this interest has taken on particular meaning, representing two specific trends: first, a rediscovery of little-known underappreciated repertories, and second, an effort to recover lost performing styles, with the conviction that such music will come to life anew with the right performance. Much has been gained in the 20th century from the study and revival of instruments, playing techniques, and repertories. In this VSI, Thomas Forrest Kelly frames chapters on the forms, techniques, and repertories practices of the medieval, Renaissance, and baroque periods with discussion of why old music has been and should be revived, as well as a short history of early music revivals.
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    When Donna Leon, the acclaimed author of the best-selling "Commissario Guido Brunetti series", is not conjuring up tales of crime and corruption in Venice, she is listening to opera. Over the years, Leon has noticed that her favourite composer, George Frideric Handel, filled his operas with arias that make reference to animals; rich in symbolism, the perceived virtues and vices of the lion, bee, nightingale, snake, elephant, and tiger, among others, resonate in his works. In "Handel's Bestiary", Leon draws on her love of Handel and her expertise in medieval bestiaries - illustrated collections of animal stories - to assemble a bestiary of her own. Twelve chapters trace twelve animals through history, mythology, and the arias. Each is joined by whimsical original illustrations by German painter Michael Sowa. The accompanying CD includes each aria, expertly recorded by Il Complesso Barocco with Alan Curtis conducting. Fascinating and utterly original, Handel's Bestiary springs to life with Leon's knowledge and wit.
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    A unique look at the history, adventures, myths and realities of this most legendary and powerful of bands, it is a labour of love based on hours of first-hand and original interviews. What emerges is a compelling portrait of the four musicians themselves, as well as a fresh insight into the close-knit entourage that protected them, from Peter Grant to Richard Cole to Ahmet Ertegun, giant figures from the long-vanished world of 1970s rock. Featuring many rare and never before seen photographs, it is also the first book on Led Zeppelin to cover such recent events as their triumphant 2007 - O2 Arena gig and Robert Plant's Grammy-winning resurgence of recent years.
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    King Arthur was the first of 28 scores Benjamin Britten (1913-1976) composed for radio between 1937 and 1947. It was an ambitious dramatisation of King Arthur's life and times - part pageant, part play, part cantata - written by D.G. Bridson. This colourful suite incorporates the Introduction, a dramatic Wild Dance, some of the music underscoring the scenes for Galahad and The Holy Grail, and two vivid battle scenes, ending with The Final Battle and Apotheosis. King Arthur (scenes from a radio drama) for brass band should not be confused with a much longer orchestral suite which Paul Hindmarsh devised from the same source in 1995. King Arthur (scenes from a radio drama) will be played by the 20 First Section finalists on 16th September 2018 at this year's National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain.
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    A heartfelt and subtly beautiful tribute to the dead of the First World War, Vaughan Williams' Third Symphony is amongst his most powerful works. Misunderstood at its premiere in 1922, the haunting 35-minute elegy is almost entirely quiet and contemplative, though beneath its tranquillity lays a deep sadness. In the second movement a lone trumpet calls over a bleak and desolate landscape whilst the fourth and final movement is framed by a wordless lament for solo soprano. Faber Music publishes this long-awaited hardback critical edition.
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    In 1934, Igor Stravinsky was fifty-two, a Russian expatriate living in Paris and already regarded by many as the most important composer of his generation. Stravinsky: The Second Exile follows him through the remainder of his long life, which he would spend largely in the United States. These are the years during which he would compose such masterworks as The Rake's Progress and Symphony in C, and achieve a new level of fame as a conductor and concert pianist in his own right. In this second and final volume of Stephen Walsh's acclaimed biography, the author traces and illuminates Stravinsky's increasingly complex and often agonised family life and his crucially important relationship with his associate Robert Craft. As a musicologist and critic, Walsh is able to speak with authority and wit not only about Stravinsky's life, but also about his work, expertly following the composer's musical journey from the neoclassicism of his late French and early American periods, through his early essays in serial technique, and on finally to the astonishing complexities of this protean genius's final works. Based on exhaustive research, Stephen Walsh uncovers new and controversial material, making this the second volume of the most definitive biography of the most significant and influential composer of the twentieth century.
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    The Oxford History of Western Music is a magisterial survey of the traditions of Western music by one of the most prominent and provocative musicologists of our time. This text illuminates, through a representative sampling of masterworks, those themes, styles, and currents that give shape and direction to each musical age. Taking a critical perspective, this text sets the details of music, the chronological sweep of figures, works, and musical ideas, within the larger context of world affairs and cultural history. Written by an authoritative, opinionated, and controversial figure in musicology, The Oxford History of Western Music provides a critical aesthetic position with respect to individual works, a context in which each composition may be evaluated and remembered. Taruskin combines an emphasis on structure and form with a discussion of relevant theoretical concepts in each age, to illustrate how the music itself works, and how contemporaries heard and understood it. It also describes how the context of each stylistic period-key cultural, historical, social, economic, and scientific events-influenced and directed compositional choices.
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    The story of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's life is well known. Austrian-born to a tyrannical father who worked him --fiercely; unhappily married to a spendthrift woman; a child-like character ill at ease amid the aristocratic splendour of the Viennese court; a musical genius who died young thus depriving the world of future glories.; Yet only that last point is really true. In this comprehensive biography, John Suchet examines the many myths and misunderstandings surrounding the world's best-loved composer. From his early days as a child prodigy performing for the imperial royal family in Vienna to the last months of his short life, driven to exhaustion by a punitive workload, one thing remained constant: his happy disposition.; Through trials and tribulations, grand successes and disheartening setbacks, Suchet shows us the real Mozart - blessed with an abundance of talent yet sometimes struggling to earn a living. His mischievous nature and earthy sense of humour, his ease and confidence in his own incredible abilities; these were traits that never left him. His music has brought comfort to countless generations; his life, though brief, is no less fascinating.
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    Can music make the world a better place? Can it really 'belong' to anyone? Can the magic, mystery and incertitude of music - of the human brain meeting or making sound - can it stop wars, rehabilitate the broken, unite, educate or inspire? From Jimi Hendrix playing 'Machine Gun' at The Isle of Wight Festival in 1970 to the Bataclan under siege in 2015, Ed Vulliamy has lived the music, met the legends, and asked, when words fail, might we turn to music? There's only one way to find out, and that is to listen...
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    Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's life - and premature death - has long been mythologised and misunderstood. John Suchet draws back the curtain to show us the real man behind the music. A shy, emotional child, Tchaikovsky came late to composing as a career. Doubting himself at every turn and keenly wounded by criticism, he went on to become one of the world's best-loved composers. Yet behind the success lay sadness: the death of his mother haunted him all his life, while his incessant attempts to suppress his homosexuality took a huge toll. From his disastrous marriage to his extraordinary relationship with his female patron, his many amorous liaisons and his devotion to friends and family, Suchet shows us how the complexity of Tchaikovsky's emotional life plays out in his music. Long hidden behind sanitised depictions by his brother and the Russian authorities, Tchaikovsky: The Man Revealed examines the complex and contradictory character of this great artist, and how he came to take his rightful place among the world's greatest composers.
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    Handel in London tells the story of a young German composer who in 1712, followed his princely master to London and would remain there for the rest of his life. That master would become King George II and the composer was George Frideric Handel. Handel, then still only twenty-seven and largely self-taught, would be at the heart of musical activity in London for the next four decades, composing masterpiece after masterpiece, whether the glorious coronation anthem, Zadok the Priest, operas such as Giulio Cesare, Rinaldo and Alcina or the great oratorios, culminating, of course, in Messiah. Here, Jane Glover, who has conducted Handel's work in opera houses and concert halls throughout the world, draws on her profound understanding of music and musicians to tell Handel's story. It is a story of music-making and musicianship, of practices and practicalities, but also of courts and cabals, of theatrical rivalries and of eighteenth-century society. It is also, of course, the story of some of the most remarkable music ever written, music that has been played and sung, and loved, in this country - and throughout the world - for three hundred years.
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    Elliott Carter (1908-2012) was the foremost composer of classical music in America during the second half of the 20th century. Over the course of a career that spanned seven decades, he consistently produced works that critics hailed as creatively daring, intellectually demanding, and emotionally complex. Distancing himself from the various "schools" and movements that grew and waned in popularity during the postwar era, Carter cultivated a deeply personal musical style that he developed and refined up until the very end of his life. This book springs from author David Schiff's life-long interest in Elliott Carter's music and his close personal connection with the composer which spanned over forty years. This critical overview of Carter's life and work explores aspects of the composer's life about which he was usually reticent-and occasionally misleading-such as his complicated relationships with Charles Ives, Aaron Copland, Nicolas Nabokov, and his own parents. Schiff's study of Carter's complete oeuvre-from his politically charged Depression-era ballets to the deeply personal and reflective late works-is based on extensive study of the composer's personal sketches and letters. Featuring an in-depth look at the legacy project of Carter's final decade, seven settings of American modernist poetry by E.E. Cummings, T.S. Eliot, Marianne Moore, Ezra Pound, Wallace Stevens and William Carlos Williams, this newest addition to the Master Musicians Series paints with a fine brush the story of America's foremost composer of the second half of the twentieth century.
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    Jan Swafford's biographies of composers Charles Ives and Johannes Brahms have established him as a revered music historian, capable of bringing his subjects vibrantly to life. His magnificent new biography of Ludwig van Beethoven peels away layers of legend to get to the living, breathing human being who composed some of the world's most iconic music. Swafford mines sources never before used in English-language biographies to reanimate the revolutionary ferment of Enlightenment-era Bonn, where Beethoven grew up and imbibed the ideas that would shape all of his future work. Swafford then tracks his subject to Vienna, capital of European music, where Beethoven built his career in the face of critical incomprehension, crippling ill health, romantic rejection, and 'fate's hammer', his ever-encroaching deafness. At the time of his death he was so widely celebrated that over ten thousand people attended his funeral. This book is a biography of Beethoven the man and musician, not the myth, and throughout, Swafford - himself a composer - offers insightful readings of Beethoven's key works. More than a decade in the making, this will be the standard Beethoven biography for years to come.
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    Claude Debussy was that rare creature, a composer who reinvented the language of music without alienating the majority of music lovers. He is the modernist everyone loves. How did he manage this? Was it through the association of his music with visual images, or was it simply that, by throwing out the rule book of the Paris Conservatoire where he studied, his music put beauty of sound above the spiritual ambitions of the German tradition from which those rules derived. Stephen Walsh's thought-provoking biography, told partly through the events of Debussy's life, and partly through a critical discussion of his music, addresses these and other questions about one of the most influential composers of the early twentieth century.
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    Schumann: The Faces and the Masks is a groundbreaking account of a major composer whose life and works have been the subject of intense controversy ever since his attempted suicide and early death in an insane asylum. Schumann was a key figure in the Romanticism which swept Europe and America in the 19th century, inspiring writers, musicians and painters, delighting their enthralled audiences, and reaching to the furthest corners of the world. All the contradictions of his age enter Schumann's works, from the fantastic disguises of his carnival masquerades and his passionate love songs to his great 'Spring' and 'Rhenish' Symphonies. He was intensely original and imaginative, but he also worshipped the past-especially Shakespeare and Byron, Raphael and Michelangelo, Beethoven and Bach. He believed in political, personal and artistic freedom but struggled with the constraints of artistic form. He turned his tumultuous life into music that speaks directly to the heart, losing none of its power with the passage of time. Drawing on hitherto unpublished archive material, Chernaik sheds new light on Schumann's life and music, his sexual escapades, his fathering of an illegitimate child, the true facts behind his courtship of his wife Clara and the opposition of her monstrous father, and the ways in which the crises of his life, his dreams and fantasies, entered his music. Schumann's troubled relations with his fellow-Romantic composers Mendelssohn and Chopin are freshly explored, and the full medical diary kept at Endenich Asylum, long withheld, enables Chernaik to solve the mystery of Schumann's final illness. Using her wide experience as a scholar of Romanticism and a novelist, Chernaik vividly brings Schumann's world and his extraordinary artistic achievement to life in all its rich complexity.
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    Franz Schubert's Winterreise is at the same time one of the most powerful and one of the most enigmatic masterpieces in Western culture. In his new book, Schubert's Winter Journey: Anatomy of an Obsession, Ian Bostridge - one of the work's finest interpreters - focusses on the context, resonance and personal significance of a work which is possibly the greatest landmark in the history of Lieder. Drawing equally on his vast experience of performing this work (he has performed it more than a hundred times), on his musical knowledge and on his training as a scholar, Bostridge unpicks the enigmas and subtle meaning of each of the twenty-four songs to explore for us the world Schubert inhabited, bringing the work and its world alive for connoisseurs and new listeners alike. Originally intended to be sung to an intimate gathering, performances of Winterreise now pack the greatest concert halls around the world. Though not strictly a biography of Schubert, Schubert's Winter Journey succeeds in offering an unparalleled insight into the mind and work of the great composer. "Usually great singers cannot explain what they do. Ian Bostridge can. Whether or not you know Schubert's 'Winter Journey', the book is gripping because it explains, in probing, simple words, how a doomed love is transformed into art." (Richard Sennett).
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    In 1805, the world of music was set on its ears by a new work from a German composer. Intellectually and emotionally, Beethoven's Third Symphony, the 'Eroica', was revolutionary music. After those first two stunning chords, Western music was never the same again. And the whiff of actual political revolution was woven into the work, for it was originally dedicated to Napoleon Bonaparte, a dangerous hero for a composer dependent on conservative royal patronage. James Hamilton-Paterson reconstructs this great moment in Western culture, the shock of the music and the symphony's long afterlife. The Landmark Library is a testament to the achievements of mankind from the late stone age to the present day. Each volume is handsomely illustrated and carries a text of 25,000 words devoted to a crucial theme in the history of civilization.
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    Simon Callow plunges headlong into Wagner's world to discover what it was like to be Wagner, and to be around one of music's most influential figures. A hundred and thirty-five years after his death, Richard Wagner's music dramas stand at the centre of the culture of classical music. They have never been more popular, nor so violently controversial and divisive. His music is still banned in Israel - the only classical composer whose music is banned in the western world. His ten great mature masterpieces constitute an unmatched body of work, created against a backdrop of poverty, revolution, violent controversy, critical contempt and hysterical hero-worship. As a man, he was a walking contradiction, aggressive, flirtatious, disciplined, capricious, heroic, visionary and poisonously anti-Semitic. At one point, he had four lengthy operas written with no hope of being performed when, as if in a fairy-tale, he was rescued by a beautiful young king with limitless wealth which he bestowed on the composer. When one of those works, Tristan and Isolde, was at last performed, it revolutionised classical music at a stroke. Finally he fulfilled his lifelong dream of creating a vast epic to rival the work of the great Greek playwrights, a music drama in four massive segments, ushering gods and dwarves, heroes and thugs, dragons and rainbows onto the stage, the apotheosis of German art as he saw it, so extreme in its demands that he had to train a generation of singers and players to perform it, and erect a custom-built theatre to house it. Wagner died, exhausted, after creating one final piece - Parsifal - that seems to point to an even more radical new future for music. Simon Callow recalls the intellectual and artistic climate in which Wagner worked, recording the almost superhuman effort required to create his work, and evoking the extraordinary effect he had on people - this composer like no other who ever lived, extreme in everything, creator of the most sublime and most troubling body of work ever known.
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    A conductor is one of classical music's most recognizable figures. Many people who have never actually been to an orchestral concert have an image of what one looks like. But rarely does such a well-known profession attract so many questions: 'Surely orchestras can play perfectly well without you? Do you really make any difference to the performance?' This book is not intended to be an instruction manual for conductors, nor is it a history of conducting. It is for all who wonder what conductors actually do. Exploring the relationships with the musicians and music they conduct, and the public and personal responsibilities they face, leading conductor Mark Wigglesworth writes with engaging honesty about the role for any music lover curious to know whether or not the profession really matters.
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    'Sometimes I liken the creative act to that of being a good gardener. The musical material itself, the harmonies, rhythms, the timbres and tempi, are seeds you have planted. Composing, bringing forth the final formal arrangement of these elements, is often a business of watching them grow, knowing when to nourish and water them and when to prune and weed.' A book unlike anything ever written by a composer, part memoir and part description of the creative process, Hallelujah Junction is an absorbing journey through the musical landscape of John Adams, one of today's most admired and frequently performed composers. A musician of enormous range and technical command, Adams has built a huge audience worldwide through the immediacy and sincerity of his music, such as his Pulitzer prize-winning memorial for the September 11 attack On The Transmigration of Souls. Hallelujah Junction isn't so much an autobiography as a fascinating journey through the musical landscape of his life and times, centred around the three highly controversial operas based on social and political issues he has written in the past twenty-five years - Nixon in China, The Death of Klinghoffer and, most recently, Dr Atomic.
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    The long-awaited memoir by 'the most prolific and popular of all contemporary composers' (New York Times). Rapturous in its ability to depict the creative process, Words Without Music allows readers to experience that sublime moment of creative fusion when life merges with art. Biography lovers will be inspired by the story of a precocious Baltimore boy, the son of a music-shop owner, who entered college at age fifteen, before traveling to Paris to study under the legendary Nadia Boulanger; Glass devotees will be fascinated by the stories behind Einstein on the Beach and Satyagraha, among so many other works. Whether recalling his experiences working at Bethlehem Steel, traveling in India, driving a cab in 1970s New York, or his professional collaborations with the likes of Allen Ginsberg, Ravi Shankar, Robert Wilson, Doris Lessing, and Martin Scorsese, Words Without Music affirms the power of music to change the world. Martin Scorsese on Words Without Music: 'I came to Philip Glass' music very simply, without any critical prodding or guidance. I listened and I was transfixed. The music was dynamic and colorful and mysterious all at once, and it put me in mind of the Zen exercise of sitting before a blank wall and contemplating the question, "What is this?" It's music that seems to go beyond music. It doesn't just stay with you, it infuses and energizes and haunts you, and carries a sense of being alive, a perception of existence itself, the rhythm of living this life. Philip's music has come to mean more and more to me as the years have gone by. I was excited to work with Philip on Kundun, and he exceeded my wildest expectations by giving us a score that was genuinely transcendent. He's exceeded my expectations again with this rich and beautifully written memoir. Who knew that he was as good a writer as he is a composer?'