Author Topic: Books on Classical Music : Recommending / Considering  (Read 35756 times)

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Offline Roasted Swan

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Re: Books on Classical Music : Recommending / Considering
« Reply #120 on: June 02, 2021, 10:44:02 PM »
Hi RS,
I eventually bought all three at the time as I could get them very cheap on Ebay. I have so far only read the Boult on Music and have found it extremely interesting, informative and giving me some context to all the British composers I have discovered in the last year and the state of British music in the Boult era. The Brian Vol.1 also appears right up my alley in terms of such contents. I skipped his Vol.2 as the composers covered are not my cup of tea.

The book below is also informative and detailed. Highly recommended. About 180 pages in so far, up to Stanford and Parry. Learning an awful lot again about the historical context and progression of the British music and composers. It puts some structure to everything I am listening to. Loving it.



That's a book I've had my eye on for some time - just waiting for it to appear in a 2nd hand/cheaper listing!

Offline Biffo

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Re: Books on Classical Music : Recommending / Considering
« Reply #121 on: June 03, 2021, 02:56:01 AM »
The Infinite Variety of Music
286 pages

I have a colleague who has a surging interest in Leonard Bernstein, so I am lending him a few books I own, but not before I get a chance to reread them.

Those of a certain age will remember Bernstein gave a series of musical chats on television, often geared towards families. Of course, with the advent of YouTube, many of his broadcasts and rehearsals are available free online. I personally prefer his tightly-scripted, black & white 50’s and 60’s musings over his older-aged pontificating (boy did he like to hear himself talk). The video of him rehearsing Shostakovich’s Symphony 1 for the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival is the worst of that latter aspect, complete with sunglasses on the podium. But I digress…

This book recreates a series of Bernstein’s public presentations:
1. Five television transcripts of his espousing topics on The Infinite Variety of Music, Rhythm, Mozart, Jazz in Serious Music, and Romanticism in Music.
2. Four symphonic analyses including Dvorak’s Symphony 9, Tchaikovsky’s Symphony 6, Beethoven’s Symphony 3, and Brahms’ Symphony 4.
3. A college lecture on having Something to Say in composing music, plus a Q & A follow-up session.

If any of the topics above are of interest, Bernstein as educator tries to make everything graspable for everyone, but never does he reach for the lowest-common denominator.

The DG Original Masters set of Bernstein's 1953 American Decca recordings of these symphonies (plus Schumann 2) has the symphonic analysis as an audio track for each work.

Many years ago, as a teenager I bought Bernstein's book The Joy of Music; that was also based on a television series, does it have any overlap with the book above? A friend borrowed it, we lost touch and I never got it back.

Offline VonStupp

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Re: Books on Classical Music : Recommending / Considering
« Reply #122 on: June 03, 2021, 03:58:22 AM »
The DG Original Masters set of Bernstein's 1953 American Decca recordings of these symphonies (plus Schumann 2) has the symphonic analysis as an audio track for each work.

Many years ago, as a teenager I bought Bernstein's book The Joy of Music; that was also based on a television series, does it have any overlap with the book above? A friend borrowed it, we lost touch and I never got it back.

Interesting, I didn't know those talks were put on a DG's Originals. The Joy of Music has different subjects than Infinite Variety, but it is collected in the same style. They also both have weird imaginary conversations, a strange discourse between Bernstein and George Washington on a plane in the book mentioned originally, I assume penned by Bernstein himself - very odd. At one point, his Young People's Concerts were on DVD too, so one could really have a Bernstein teaching fest if you wanted to.
“All the good music has already been written by people with wigs and stuff.”

Offline Biffo

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Re: Books on Classical Music : Recommending / Considering
« Reply #123 on: June 04, 2021, 05:23:06 AM »
Interesting, I didn't know those talks were put on a DG's Originals. The Joy of Music has different subjects than Infinite Variety, but it is collected in the same style. They also both have weird imaginary conversations, a strange discourse between Bernstein and George Washington on a plane in the book mentioned originally, I assume penned by Bernstein himself - very odd. At one point, his Young People's Concerts were on DVD too, so one could really have a Bernstein teaching fest if you wanted to.

Thanks for the info about the books.

Offline J

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Re: Books on Classical Music : Recommending / Considering
« Reply #124 on: June 12, 2021, 08:39:49 PM »
Here's one of my all-time favorites:

The Stream of Music by Richard Anthony Leonard -

the best collection of composer biographies ever, - brilliantly written, immensely entertaining, deeply insightful, - a riveting read
from start to finish.  Incomparable.  This description will make do: "This book is a history of music from 1650 to the present told in terms of the lives and works of the great composers.  Each chapter is a cunningly composed mixture of historical background, biography, character sketch, and critical comment."  (Composers treated are Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Tchaikovsky, Brahms, Chopin, Liszt, Wagner, Verdi, Puccini, Strauss, Debussy, Stravinsky, & Sibelius).

More ephemeral and superficial as it might be, a kind of companion work to Leonard in certain respects that I've found quite fascinating and engrossing is Maestro: Encounters with Conductors of Today by Helena Matheopoulos - the "today" being the world of 1983 (its publication year).  As one summary fairly describes it: "Interviews with the world's twenty-three top orchestral conductors provide the basis for accounts of their training, musical tastes, podium techniques, repertoires, lifestyles, and achievements." (Those conductors covered are Bernstein, Boulez, Previn, Abbado, Bohm, Boult, Davis, Giulini, Haitink, von Karajan, Levine, Maazel, Mackerras, Mehta, Muti, Ozawa, Solti, Tennstedt, Kleiber, Ashkenazy, Rostropovich, Chailly, & Rattle).


« Last Edit: June 12, 2021, 09:37:40 PM by J »

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Books on Classical Music : Recommending / Considering
« Reply #125 on: June 17, 2021, 01:17:22 AM »
Just ordered this:
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline Artem

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Re: Books on Classical Music : Recommending / Considering
« Reply #126 on: June 17, 2021, 10:18:27 AM »
I had no idea that Jan Swafford published Mozat biography at the end of last year. I loved all his other books. Mozart must be grand too.

Offline J

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Re: Books on Classical Music : Recommending / Considering
« Reply #127 on: June 17, 2021, 05:00:16 PM »
           
I had no idea that Jan Swafford published Mozat biography at the end of last year. I loved all his other books. Mozart must be grand too.

I still think his Brahms bio the best composer biography I've ever read, but was less pleased with its successor on Beethoven which for my taste has just far too much musicological analyses that I can't follow and doesn't hold my attention or interest.

I too was unaware of the work on Mozart, and will be curious how it measures up against the predecessors, though at over 800 pages I suspect it may be (as with Beethoven) "too much of a good thing" in similar fashion.

The thing about Brahms is that there's such an abundance of source material for exploring his inner life and human relationships
that doesn't exist in anywhere near the same quantity for either Mozart or Beethoven, so whereas Swafford's work on Brahms
could communicate and elaborate his human qualities and life experiences in engrossing detail and with some nuance, the Beethoven book was far less full in that regard, and finally overtaken by externalities and the kind of musical "shop talk" I myself can do without.  Mozart will impose the same sort of constraints even moreso, which leaves me wondering (and fearing) what that 800 pages will be filled up with.
« Last Edit: June 17, 2021, 05:30:24 PM by J »

Offline VonStupp

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Re: Books on Classical Music : Recommending / Considering
« Reply #128 on: July 14, 2021, 12:59:16 PM »
I have a friend who has a burgeoning interest in Leonard Bernstein. I was going to lend him my books, but I thought I would reread them before I pass them on. Every biography covers his personal life and career, it is just a matter of where the author dedicates their focus. Here is my survey:

Leonard Bernstein - Joan Peyser
The most salacious of these biographies. If you want to know every sticky, nasty detail of his personal life, this is the one for you. Seems a bit sensationalist to me.



Leonard Bernstein - Humphrey Burton
The longest, and perhaps most comprehensive. There are pages and pages of diaries, personal papers, and other documents. Interviews with his children and anecdotes provide extremely detailed steps in his life, but it was all a bit too much for me. Easier to like, though.



Leonard Bernstein: A Life - Meryle Secrest
This is more up my alley. Secrest follows his musical career with some nice behind-the-scenes tales. It is at its best through the interviews, such as those by Stephen Sondheim.



Leonard Bernstein: An American Musician - Allen Shawn
From the Jewish Lives series, this one looks at Bernstein as a composer/conductor with a nice look at his music too. Covers many, many of his concerts and some works in depth (I forgot all about his Peter Pan). As a musician this was the best one for me; I am not so interested in scandal.

« Last Edit: July 14, 2021, 01:37:27 PM by VonStupp »
“All the good music has already been written by people with wigs and stuff.”

Offline Szykneij

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Re: Books on Classical Music : Recommending / Considering
« Reply #129 on: July 20, 2021, 05:40:04 AM »
I picked this up a few years ago at a used bookstore. Included with the 181 page book are five 7-inch 33 1/3 rpm records.

Even though the intended audience is "young people", the writing style is conversational (but not completely juvenile) so it's still an entertaining read for an adult. Bernstein's text is also interspersed with numerous musical notation examples illustrating the various points being discussed.

Despite the well-worn condition of this box, the vinyl inside is pristine. The previous owner was either a very careful audiophile, or didn't own a record player.
Men profess to be lovers of music, but for the most part they give no evidence in their opinions and lives that they have heard it.  ~ Henry David Thoreau

Don't pray when it rains if you don't pray when the sun shines. ~ Satchel Paige

Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Books on Classical Music : Recommending / Considering
« Reply #130 on: July 20, 2021, 06:34:09 AM »
The last month or so, I've reviewed my classical music book collection and decided I needed some updated reading and possibly hard copy additions and/or replacements:

Music in the 18th & 19th Centuries - part of a Norton collection of books, about done w/ both - did 'rentals' on my iPad (Amazon allows 4 months or so before the books are removed) - these are short (< 300 pages) and general w/ little in the way of musical scores/notations which I prefer not being able to really appreciate looking at notes on a staff.  I likely will rent the book on the Baroque period soon.

A History of Music in the British Isles, V. 2 - purchased as a hardcover new for about $20 USD, using some Amazon credit - about a third of the way into the book and really beginning to enjoy; the Brits did not seem to have any illustrious 'now remembered' musical personalities until the middle of the century and later, just my two cents, now!  8)

America's Musical Life (2005; Norton) by Richard Crawford - this will complement or replace an older book on the same topic by Gilbert Chase; bought as a used paperback said to be in good condition for $10 - not yet arrived.  Dave :)

     

Offline Artem

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Re: Books on Classical Music : Recommending / Considering
« Reply #131 on: August 22, 2021, 07:02:18 AM »
This has been made available in paperback recently I believe. Over 700 pages long. Has anybody read it?


Offline vers la flamme

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Re: Books on Classical Music : Recommending / Considering
« Reply #132 on: August 22, 2021, 01:44:50 PM »
This has been made available in paperback recently I believe. Over 700 pages long. Has anybody read it?



Have not, but I'd love to. Glad it's finally in paperback, I don't really buy hardbacks.

Offline Roasted Swan

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Re: Books on Classical Music : Recommending / Considering
« Reply #133 on: August 30, 2021, 07:56:40 AM »


Great book.

Thanks for the detailed description - I've added this to my wish list!

Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Books on Classical Music : Recommending / Considering
« Reply #134 on: August 30, 2021, 08:08:39 AM »
Well, back in July, I posted the books below quoted at the bottom - have finished the first three - just a third through America's Musical Life, nearly a 900 page book - this will take me a while.  BUT, I really enjoyed the two Norton rentals, Music in the 18th & 19th Centuries; so I've done 2 more rentals, i.e. Music in the Baroque & Music in the Renaissance, already finished the Baroque and starting the Renaissance - again really enjoying this series (outstanding Amazon reviews); rentals are $20 or less w/ plenty of time given before the books are removed from your device - there are two other books in this series shown immediately below, last two - might get the 'Medieval West' but probably not the other one.  Dave :)

     

The last month or so, I've reviewed my classical music book collection and decided I needed some updated reading and possibly hard copy additions and/or replacements:

Music in the 18th & 19th Centuries - part of a Norton collection of books, about done w/ both - did 'rentals' on my iPad (Amazon allows 4 months or so before the books are removed) - these are short (< 300 pages) and general w/ little in the way of musical scores/notations which I prefer not being able to really appreciate looking at notes on a staff.  I likely will rent the book on the Baroque period soon.

A History of Music in the British Isles, V. 2 - purchased as a hardcover new for about $20 USD, using some Amazon credit - about a third of the way into the book and really beginning to enjoy; the Brits did not seem to have any illustrious 'now remembered' musical personalities until the middle of the century and later, just my two cents, now!  8)

America's Musical Life (2005; Norton) by Richard Crawford - this will complement or replace an older book on the same topic by Gilbert Chase; bought as a used paperback said to be in good condition for $10 - not yet arrived.  Dave :)