Popular Classical Music Books

22+ [Hand Picked] Popular Books On Classical Music

Discover the list of some best books written on Classical Music by popular award winning authors. These book on topic Classical Music highly popular among the readers worldwide.

3.2/5

The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century by Alex Ross

The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century is a voyage into the labyrinth of modern music, which remains an obscure world for most people. While paintings of Picasso and Jackson Pollock sell for a hundred million dollars or more, and lines from T. S. Eliot are quoted on the yearbook pages of alienated teenagers across the land, twentieth-century classical music The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century is a voyage into the labyrinth of modern music, which remains an obscure world for most people. While paintings of Picasso and Jackson Pollock sell for a hundred million dollars or more, and lines from T. S. Eliot are quoted on the yearbook pages of alienated teenagers across the land, twentieth-century classical music still sends ripples of unease through audiences. At the same time, its influence can be felt everywhere. Atonal chords crop up in jazz. Avant-garde sounds populate the soundtracks of Hollywood thrillers. Minimalism has had a huge effect on rock, pop, and dance music from the Velvet Underground onward. The Rest Is Noise shows why twentieth-century composers felt compelled to create a famously bewildering variety of sounds, from the purest beauty to the purest noise. It tells of a remarkable array of maverick personalities who resisted the cult of the classical past, struggled against the indifference of a wide public, and defied the will of dictators. Whether they have charmed audiences with sweet sounds or battered them with dissonance, composers have always been exuberantly of the present, defying the stereotype of classical music as a dying art. The narrative goes from Vienna before the First World War to Paris in the twenties, from Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Russia to downtown New York in the sixties and seventies. We follow the rise of mass culture and mass politics, of dramatic new technologies, of hot and cold wars, of experiments, revolutions, riots, and friendships forged and broken. The end result is not so much a history of twentieth-century music as a history of the twentieth century through its music.

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5/5

The Classical Style: Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven by Charles Rosen

This outstanding book treating the three most beloved composers of the Vienna School is basic to any study of Classical-era music. Drawing on his rich experience and intimate familiarity with the works of these giants, Charles Rosen presents his keen insights in clear and persuasive language. For this expanded edition, now available in paperback for the first time, Rosen h This outstanding book treating the three most beloved composers of the Vienna School is basic to any study of Classical-era music. Drawing on his rich experience and intimate familiarity with the works of these giants, Charles Rosen presents his keen insights in clear and persuasive language. For this expanded edition, now available in paperback for the first time, Rosen has provided a new, 64-page chapter on the later years of Beethoven and the musical conventions he inherited from Haydn and Mozart. The author has also written an extensive new preface in which he responds to other writers who have commented on his ideas.

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3.9/5

Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven by John Eliot Gardiner

Johann Sebastian Bach is one of the most unfathomable composers in the history of music. How can such sublime work have been produced by a man who (when we can discern his personality at all) seems so ordinary, so opaque—and occasionally so intemperate? John Eliot Gardiner grew up passing one of the only two authentic portraits of Bach every morning and evening on the stai Johann Sebastian Bach is one of the most unfathomable composers in the history of music. How can such sublime work have been produced by a man who (when we can discern his personality at all) seems so ordinary, so opaque—and occasionally so intemperate? John Eliot Gardiner grew up passing one of the only two authentic portraits of Bach every morning and evening on the stairs of his parents’ house, where it hung for safety during World War II. He has been studying and performing Bach ever since, and is now regarded as one of the composer’s greatest living interpreters. The fruits of this lifetime’s immersion are distilled in this remarkable book, grounded in the most recent Bach scholarship but moving far beyond it, and explaining in wonderful detail the ideas on which Bach drew, how he worked, how his music is constructed, how it achieves its effects—and what it can tell us about Bach the man. Gardiner’s background as a historian has encouraged him to search for ways in which scholarship and performance can cooperate and fruitfully coalesce. This has entailed piecing together the few biographical shards, scrutinizing the music, and watching for those instances when Bach’s personality seems to penetrate the fabric of his notation. Gardiner’s aim is “to give the reader a sense of inhabiting the same experiences and sensations that Bach might have had in the act of music-making. This, I try to show, can help us arrive at a more human likeness discernible in the closely related processes of composing and performing his music.” It is very rare that such an accomplished performer of music should also be a considerable writer and thinker about it. John Eliot Gardiner takes us as deeply into Bach’s works and mind as perhaps words can. The result is a unique book about one of the greatest of all creative artists. 

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3.2/5

The Lives of the Great Composers by Harold C. Schonberg

In this new edition, Harold Schonberg offers music lovers a series of fascinating biographical chapters. Music, the author contends, is a continually evolving art, and all geniuses, unique as they are, were influenced by their predecessors. Schonberg discusses the lives and works of the foremost figures in classical music, among them Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, the Schumanns, In this new edition, Harold Schonberg offers music lovers a series of fascinating biographical chapters. Music, the author contends, is a continually evolving art, and all geniuses, unique as they are, were influenced by their predecessors. Schonberg discusses the lives and works of the foremost figures in classical music, among them Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, the Schumanns, Copland, and Stravinsky, weaving a fabric rich in detail and anecdote. He also includes the creators of light music, such as Gilbert and Sullivan and the Strausses. Schonberg has extended the volume's coverage to provide informative and clearly written descriptions of the later serialists such as Stockhausen and Carter, the iconoclastic John Cage, the individualistic Messiaen, minimalist composers, the new tonalists, and women composers of all eras, including Mendelssohn Hensel, Chaminade, Smyth, Beach, and Zwilich. Scattered throughout are many changes and additions reflecting musicological findings of the past fifteen years.

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4.8/5

Beethoven: Anguish and Triumph by Jan Swafford

Jan Swafford’s biographies of 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 be Jan Swafford’s biographies of 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. Throughout, Swafford 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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4.8/5

Beethoven by Maynard Solomon

Hailed as a masterpiece for its original interpretations of Beethoven's life and music, this edition takes into account the latest information and literature. Includes a 30-page bibliographical essay, numerous illustrations, and a full-color pictorial biography of the composer.

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4.4/5

Johannes Brahms: A Biography by Jan Swafford

A New York Times Notable Book "This brilliant and magisterial book is a very good bet to...become the definitive study of Johannes Brahms."--The Plain Dealer Judicious, compassionate, and full of insight into Brahms's human complexity as well as his music, Johannes Brahms is an indispensable biography. Proclaimed the new messiah of Romanticism by Robert Schumann when he was o A New York Times Notable Book "This brilliant and magisterial book is a very good bet to...become the definitive study of Johannes Brahms."--The Plain Dealer Judicious, compassionate, and full of insight into Brahms's human complexity as well as his music, Johannes Brahms is an indispensable biography. Proclaimed the new messiah of Romanticism by Robert Schumann when he was only twenty, Johannes Brahms dedicated himself to a long and extraordinarily productive career.  In this book, Jan Swafford sets out to reveal the little-known Brahms, the boy who grew up in mercantile Hamburg and played piano in beer halls among prostitutes and drunken sailors, the fiercely self-protective man who thwarted future biographers by burning papers, scores and notebooks late in his life.  Making unprecedented use of the remaining archival material, Swafford offers richly expanded perspectives on Brahms's youth, on his difficult romantic life--particularly his longstanding relationship with Clara Schumann--and on his professional rivalry with Lizst and Wagner.   "[Johannes Brahms] will no doubt stand as the definitive work on Brahms, one of the monumental biographies in the entire musical library."--London Weekly Standard "It is a measure of the accomplishment of Jan Swafford's biography that Brahms's sadness becomes palpable.... [Swafford] manages to construct a full-bodied human being."--The New York Times Book Review

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3/5

What to Listen for in Music by Aaron Copland , Alan Rich (Foreword and Epilogue) , William Schuman (Introduction)

In this fascinating analysis of how to listen to music intelligently, Aaron Copland raises two basic questions: Are you hearing everything that is going on? Are you really being sensitive to it? If you cannot answer yes to both questions, you owe it to yourself to read this book. Whether you listen to Mozart or Duke Ellington, Aaron Copland's provocative suggestions for li In this fascinating analysis of how to listen to music intelligently, Aaron Copland raises two basic questions: Are you hearing everything that is going on? Are you really being sensitive to it? If you cannot answer yes to both questions, you owe it to yourself to read this book. Whether you listen to Mozart or Duke Ellington, Aaron Copland's provocative suggestions for listening to music from his point of view will bring you a deeper appreciation of the most rewarding of all art forms.

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4.9/5

The Cello Suites by Eric Siblin

One autumn evening, shortly after ending a ten-year stint as a pop-music columnist for the Montreal Gazette, Eric Siblin attended a concert at Toronto's Royal Conservatory of Music. There, something unlikely happened: he fell in love with a piece of classical music -- Bach's cello suites. Part biography, part music history, and part literary mystery, The Cello Suites weave One autumn evening, shortly after ending a ten-year stint as a pop-music columnist for the Montreal Gazette, Eric Siblin attended a concert at Toronto's Royal Conservatory of Music. There, something unlikely happened: he fell in love with a piece of classical music -- Bach's cello suites. Part biography, part music history, and part literary mystery, The Cello Suites weaves together three dramatic stories: The first features Johann Sebastian Bach and the missing manuscript of his suites from the eighteenth century; the second is that of Pablo Casals and his incredible discovery of the manuscript in Spain in the early twentieth century; and the third is Eric Siblin's own infatuation with the suites in the twenty-first century. This love affair leads Siblin to the back streets of Barcelona, a Belgian mansion, and a bombed out German palace; to interviews with cellists Mischa Maisky, Anner Bylsma, and Pieter Wispelwey; to archives, festivals, conferences, and cemeteries; and even to cello lessons -- all in pursuit of answers to the mysteries that continue to haunt this piece of music more than 250 years after its composer's death. The Cello Suites is an incomparable, beautifully written, true-life journey of passion, imagination, and discovery, fuelled by the transcendent power of a musical masterpiece.

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3.7/5

Dinner with Lenny: The Last Long Interview with Leonard Bernstein by Jonathan Cott

Leonard Bernstein was arguably the most highly esteemed, influential, and charismatic American classical music personality of the twentieth century. Conductor, composer, pianist, writer, educator, and human rights activist, Bernstein truly led a life of Byronic intensity--passionate, risk-taking, and convention-breaking. In November 1989, just a year before his death, Berns Leonard Bernstein was arguably the most highly esteemed, influential, and charismatic American classical music personality of the twentieth century. Conductor, composer, pianist, writer, educator, and human rights activist, Bernstein truly led a life of Byronic intensity--passionate, risk-taking, and convention-breaking. In November 1989, just a year before his death, Bernstein invited writer Jonathan Cott to his country home in Fairfield, Connecticut for what turned out to be his last major interview--an unprecedented and astonishingly frank twelve-hour conversation. Now, in Dinner with Lenny, Cott provides a complete account of this remarkable dialogue in which Bernstein discourses with disarming frankness, humor, and intensity on matters musical, pedagogical, political, psychological, spiritual, and the unabashedly personal. Bernstein comes alive again, with vodka glass in hand, singing, humming, and making pointed comments on a wide array of topics, from popular music ("the Beatles were the best songwriters since Gershwin"), to great composers ("Wagner was always in a psychotic frenzy. He was a madman, a megalomaniac"), and politics (lamenting "the brainlessness, the mindlessness, the carelessness, and the heedlessness of the Reagans of the world"). And of course, Bernstein talks of conducting, advising students "to look at the score and make it come alive as if they were the composer. If you can do that, you're a conductor and if you can't, you're not. If I don't become Brahms or Tchaikovsky or Stravinsky when I'm conducting their works, then it won't be a great performance." After Rolling Stone magazine published an abridged version of the conversation in 1990, the Chicago Tribune praised it as "an extraordinary interview" filled with "passion, wit, and acute analysis." Studs Terkel called the interview "astonishing and revelatory." Now, this full-length version provides the reader with a unique, you-are-there perspective on what it was like to converse with this gregarious, witty, candid, and inspiring American dynamo.

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3.9/5

The Vintage Guide to Classical Music by Jan Swafford

The most readable and comprehensive guide to enjoying over five hundred years of classical music -- from Gregorian chants, Johann Sebastian Bach, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to Johannes Brahms, Igor Stravinsky, John Cage, and beyond. The Vintage Guide to Classical Music is a lively -- and opinionated -- musical history and an insider's key to the personalities, epochs, and The most readable and comprehensive guide to enjoying over five hundred years of classical music -- from Gregorian chants, Johann Sebastian Bach, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to Johannes Brahms, Igor Stravinsky, John Cage, and beyond. The Vintage Guide to Classical Music is a lively -- and opinionated -- musical history and an insider's key to the personalities, epochs, and genres of the Western classical tradition. Among its features: -- chronologically arranged essays on nearly 100 composers, from Guillaume de Machaut (ca. 1300-1377) to Aaron Copland (1900-1990), that combine biography with detailed analyses of the major works while assessing their role in the social, cultural, and political climate of their times; -- informative sidebars that clarify broader topics such as melody, polyphony, atonality, and the impact of the early-music movement; -- a glossary of musical terms, from a cappella to woodwinds; -- a step-by-step guide to building a great classical music library. Written with wit and a clarity that both musical experts and beginners can appreciate, The Vintage Guide to Classical Music is an invaluable source-book for music lovers everywhere.

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3.7/5

This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession by Daniel J. Levitin

Whether you load your iPod with Bach or Bono, music has a significant role in your life—even if you never realized it. Why does music evoke such powerful moods? The answers are at last be- coming clear, thanks to revolutionary neuroscience and the emerging field of evolutionary psychology. Both a cutting-edge study and a tribute to the beauty of music itself, This Is Your Whether you load your iPod with Bach or Bono, music has a significant role in your life—even if you never realized it. Why does music evoke such powerful moods? The answers are at last be- coming clear, thanks to revolutionary neuroscience and the emerging field of evolutionary psychology. Both a cutting-edge study and a tribute to the beauty of music itself, This Is Your Brain on Music unravels a host of mysteries that affect everything from pop culture to our understanding of human nature, including: • Are our musical preferences shaped in utero? • Is there a cutoff point for acquiring new tastes in music? • What do PET scans and MRIs reveal about the brain’s response to music? • Is musical pleasure different from other kinds of pleasure? This Is Your Brain on Music explores cultures in which singing is considered an essential human function, patients who have a rare disorder that prevents them from making sense of music, and scientists studying why two people may not have the same definition of pitch. At every turn, this provocative work unlocks deep secrets about how nature and nurture forge a uniquely human obsession.

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4/5

Johann Sebastian Bach: The Learned Musician by Christoph Wolff

Although we have heard the music of J. S. Bach in countless performances and recordings, the composer himself still comes across only as an enigmatic figure in a single familiar portrait. As we mark the 250th anniversary of Bach's death, author Christoph Wolff presents a new picture that brings to life this towering figure of the Baroque era. This engaging new biography po Although we have heard the music of J. S. Bach in countless performances and recordings, the composer himself still comes across only as an enigmatic figure in a single familiar portrait. As we mark the 250th anniversary of Bach's death, author Christoph Wolff presents a new picture that brings to life this towering figure of the Baroque era. This engaging new biography portrays Bach as the living, breathing, and sometimes imperfect human being that he was, while bringing to bear all the advances of the last half-century of Bach scholarship. Wolff demonstrates the intimate connection between the composer's life and his music, showing how Bach's superb inventiveness pervaded his career as musician, composer, performer, scholar, and teacher. And throughout, we see Bach in the broader context of his time: its institutions, traditions, and influences. With this highly readable book, Wolff sets a new standard for Bach biography.

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4/5

An Equal Music by Vikram Seth

The author of the international bestseller A Suitable Boy returns with a powerful and deeply romantic tale of two gifted musicians. Michael Holme is a violinist, a member of the successful Maggiore Quartet. He has long been haunted, though, by memories of the pianist he loved and left ten years earlier, Julia McNicholl. Now Julia, married and the mother of a small child, u The author of the international bestseller A Suitable Boy returns with a powerful and deeply romantic tale of two gifted musicians. Michael Holme is a violinist, a member of the successful Maggiore Quartet. He has long been haunted, though, by memories of the pianist he loved and left ten years earlier, Julia McNicholl. Now Julia, married and the mother of a small child, unexpectedly reenters his life and the romance flares up once more. Against the magical backdrop of Venice and Vienna, the two lovers confront the truth about themselves and their love, about the music that both unites and divides them, and about a devastating secret that Julia must finally reveal. With poetic, evocative writing and a brilliant portrait of the international music scene, An Equal Music confirms Vikram Seth as one of the world's finest and most enticing writers.

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3.8/5

Evening in the Palace of Reason by James R. Gaines

Johann Sebastian Bach created what may be the most celestial and profound body of music in history; Frederick the Great built the colossus we now know as Germany, and along with it a template for modern warfare. Their fleeting encounter in 1747 signals a unique moment in history where belief collided with the cold certainty of reason. Set at the tipping point between the a Johann Sebastian Bach created what may be the most celestial and profound body of music in history; Frederick the Great built the colossus we now know as Germany, and along with it a template for modern warfare. Their fleeting encounter in 1747 signals a unique moment in history where belief collided with the cold certainty of reason. Set at the tipping point between the ancient and modern world, Evening in the Palace of Reason captures the tumult of the eighteenth century, the legacy of the Reformation, and the birth of the Enlightenment in this extraordinary tale of two men.

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4.1/5

Moscow Nights: The Van Cliburn Story-How One Man and His Piano Transformed the Cold War by Nigel Cliff

Gripping narrative nonfiction that tells the dramatic story of a remarkable young Texan pianist, Van Cliburn, who played his way through the wall of fear built by the Cold War, won the hearts of the American and Russian people, and eased tensions between two superpowers on the brink of nuclear war. In 1958, an unheralded twenty-three-year-old piano prodigy from Texas named Gripping narrative nonfiction that tells the dramatic story of a remarkable young Texan pianist, Van Cliburn, who played his way through the wall of fear built by the Cold War, won the hearts of the American and Russian people, and eased tensions between two superpowers on the brink of nuclear war. In 1958, an unheralded twenty-three-year-old piano prodigy from Texas named Van Cliburn traveled to Moscow to compete in the First International Tchaikovsky Competition. The Soviets had no intention of bestowing their coveted prize on an unknown American; a Russian pianist had already been chosen to win. Yet when the gangly Texan with the shy grin took the stage and began to play, he instantly captivated an entire nation. The Soviet people were charmed by Van Cliburn’s extraordinary talent, passion, and fresh-faced innocence, but it was his palpable love for the music that earned their devotion; for many, he played more like a Russian than their own musicians. As enraptured crowds mobbed Cliburn’s performances, pressure mounted to award him the competition prize. "Is he the best?" Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev demanded of the judges. "In that case . . . give him the prize!" Adored by millions in the USSR, Cliburn returned to a thunderous hero’s welcome in the USA and became, for a time, an ambassador of hope for two dangerously hostile superpowers. In this thrilling, impeccably researched account, Nigel Cliff recreates the drama and tension of the Cold War era, and brings into focus the gifted musician and deeply compelling figure whose music would temporarily bridge the divide between two dangerously hostile powers.

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4.8/5

Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven by John Eliot Gardiner

Johann Sebastian Bach is one of the most unfathomable composers in the history of music. How can such sublime work have been produced by a man who (when we can discern his personality at all) seems so ordinary, so opaque—and occasionally so intemperate? John Eliot Gardiner grew up passing one of the only two authentic portraits of Bach every morning and evening on the stai Johann Sebastian Bach is one of the most unfathomable composers in the history of music. How can such sublime work have been produced by a man who (when we can discern his personality at all) seems so ordinary, so opaque—and occasionally so intemperate? John Eliot Gardiner grew up passing one of the only two authentic portraits of Bach every morning and evening on the stairs of his parents’ house, where it hung for safety during World War II. He has been studying and performing Bach ever since, and is now regarded as one of the composer’s greatest living interpreters. The fruits of this lifetime’s immersion are distilled in this remarkable book, grounded in the most recent Bach scholarship but moving far beyond it, and explaining in wonderful detail the ideas on which Bach drew, how he worked, how his music is constructed, how it achieves its effects—and what it can tell us about Bach the man. Gardiner’s background as a historian has encouraged him to search for ways in which scholarship and performance can cooperate and fruitfully coalesce. This has entailed piecing together the few biographical shards, scrutinizing the music, and watching for those instances when Bach’s personality seems to penetrate the fabric of his notation. Gardiner’s aim is “to give the reader a sense of inhabiting the same experiences and sensations that Bach might have had in the act of music-making. This, I try to show, can help us arrive at a more human likeness discernible in the closely related processes of composing and performing his music.” It is very rare that such an accomplished performer of music should also be a considerable writer and thinker about it. John Eliot Gardiner takes us as deeply into Bach’s works and mind as perhaps words can. The result is a unique book about one of the greatest of all creative artists. 

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4.4/5

Beethoven: The Man and the Artist, As Revealed in His Own Words by Ludwig van Beethoven , Friedrich Kerst (Editor) , Henry Edward Krehbiel (Editor)

This long-esteemed book offers the reader a highly interesting glimpse of Beethoven, the man. There are a number of biographical studies of Beethoven, but nowhere else will you find such a convenient classified collection of his utterances and opinions. Through his own words emerges an image of a man, torn by personal problems and a tragic affliction, yet impelled by a kee This long-esteemed book offers the reader a highly interesting glimpse of Beethoven, the man. There are a number of biographical studies of Beethoven, but nowhere else will you find such a convenient classified collection of his utterances and opinions. Through his own words emerges an image of a man, torn by personal problems and a tragic affliction, yet impelled by a keen sense of his destiny and place in the history of music. Included are over 300 of Beethoven's reflections on the art of composing: "The startling effects which many credit to the natural genius of the composer, are often achieved with the greatest ease by the use and resolution of the diminished seventh chords"; on his own temperament and character: "Many a vigorous and unconsidered word drops from my mouth, for which reason I am considered mad"; and on other composers: "Rossini would have become a great composer if his teacher had frequently applied some blows ad posteriora"; on performers: "These pianoforte players have their coteries whom they often join; there they are praised continually — and there's an end of art!"; on his own suffering: "My defective hearing appeared everywhere before me like a ghost; I fled from the presence of men, was obliged to appear to be a misanthrope although I am so little such." There are also his views on art and artists, on his own works, on education, nature, poetry, God and other matters. Friedrich Kerst originally gleaned this material from various sources, such as Beethoven's diary, the famous conversation-books, the Heiligenstadt Will, and his correspondence with the Archduke Rudolf, Ferdinand Ries, Dr. Wegeler, Cherubini, the "Immortal Beloved," and many others. Altogether it forms the handiest compilation of Beethoven's recorded remarks in existence. Out of print for years, this annotated translation by a renowned American music authority, Henry Edward Krehbiel, is once more made available for the illumination and enjoyment of scholars, students, and music lovers.

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5/5

Paul Robeson by Martin Duberman

Passionate, enormously talented, and, at times, seemingly larger than life, Paul Robeson lived one of the great lives of the twentieth century. Martin Duberman's classic biography, reissued by The New Press, offers a monumental and powerfully affecting portrait of one of this century's most notable performers, political radicals, and champions of racial equality.

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4.7/5

Schubert's Winter Journey: Anatomy of an Obsession by Ian Bostridge

An exploration of the world's most famous and challenging song cycle by one of the world's most renowned singers, a leading interpreter of the work, who teases out the themes - literary, historical, psychological--that weave through the twenty-four songs comprising this legendary masterpiece. Written in 1828, in the last months of the young Schubert's life, 'Winterreise' ( An exploration of the world's most famous and challenging song cycle by one of the world's most renowned singers, a leading interpreter of the work, who teases out the themes - literary, historical, psychological--that weave through the twenty-four songs comprising this legendary masterpiece. Written in 1828, in the last months of the young Schubert's life, 'Winterreise' ("Winter's Journey"), has come to be considered the single greatest piece of music ever written for the male solo voice. Deceptively brief - the twenty-four short poems are performed uninterrupted in 70 minutes - it nonetheless has an emotional depth and power that no music of its kind has ever equalled. Originally intended to be sung to an intimate gathering, performances of 'Winterreise' now pack the greatest concert halls around the world. Drawing on his firsthand experience with this work (he has performed it more than one hundred times), on his musical knowledge, and on his training as a scholar, Ian Bostridge teases out the enigmas and subtle meanings of each song, exploring the world and the states of heart and mind in which Schubert created them, and the exquisite resonance and affinities that continue, even today, to move us so profoundly.

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3.2/5

Beethoven's Symphonies: An Artistic Vision by Lewis Lockwood

More than any other composer, Beethoven left to posterity a vast body of material that documents the early stages of almost everything he wrote. From this trove of sketchbooks, Lewis Lockwood draws us into the composer’s mind, unveiling a creative process of astonishing scope and originality. For musicians and nonmusicians alike, Beethoven’s symphonies stand at the summit o More than any other composer, Beethoven left to posterity a vast body of material that documents the early stages of almost everything he wrote. From this trove of sketchbooks, Lewis Lockwood draws us into the composer’s mind, unveiling a creative process of astonishing scope and originality. For musicians and nonmusicians alike, Beethoven’s symphonies stand at the summit of artistic achievement, loved today as they were two hundred years ago for their emotional cogency, variety, and unprecedented individuality. Beethoven labored to complete nine of them over his lifetime—a quarter of Mozart’s output and a tenth of Haydn’s—yet no musical works are more iconic, more indelibly stamped on the memory of anyone who has heard them. They are the products of an imagination that drove the composer to build out of the highest musical traditions of the past something startlingly new. Lockwood brings to bear a long career of studying the surviving sources that yield insight into Beethoven’s creative work, including concept sketches for symphonies that were never finished. From these, Lockwood offers fascinating revelations into the historical and biographical circumstances in which the symphonies were composed. In this compelling story of Beethoven’s singular ambition, Lockwood introduces readers to the symphonies as individual artworks, broadly tracing their genesis against the backdrop of political upheavals, concert life, and their relationship to his major works in other genres. From the first symphonies, written during his emerging deafness, to the monumental Ninth, Lockwood brings to life Beethoven’s lifelong passion to compose works of unsurpassed beauty.

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3/5

Beethoven: Anguish and Triumph by Jan Swafford

Jan Swafford’s biographies of 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 be Jan Swafford’s biographies of 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. Throughout, Swafford 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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