Author Topic: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers  (Read 66321 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline torut

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1012
Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
« Reply #140 on: July 31, 2014, 10:51:55 AM »
I like the Lebrecht book but it is very opinionated. I wrote to him saying that I thought that he was wrong to be so dismissive of Honegger's 5th Symphony and he replied saying that he would listen to it again - so at least he is open to other opinions.
That's a nice story. I tend to guess that assertive authors are usually stubborn.
Do you have the 2nd edition (2000)? About 40 pages had been added. I was thinking of replacing my copy of the 1996 version with it, but I am not sure if it is worthwhile. Plenty of good information about new composers is available on the internet, but still it is nice to have this kind of book for skimming over.

Offline vandermolen

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 19995
  • Location: Rotherfield, Sussex, UK
Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
« Reply #141 on: August 03, 2014, 11:46:13 AM »
That's a nice story. I tend to guess that assertive authors are usually stubborn.
Do you have the 2nd edition (2000)? About 40 pages had been added. I was thinking of replacing my copy of the 1996 version with it, but I am not sure if it is worthwhile. Plenty of good information about new composers is available on the internet, but still it is nice to have this kind of book for skimming over.

I have the earlier book in hardback but bought the newer version a while back. I tend to use the old version more for browsing, so I don't think that the extra money justifies the purchase of the newer version and I rather regret getting it.
"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 torut

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1012
Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
« Reply #142 on: October 06, 2014, 09:44:41 PM »
Kyle Gann - American Music in the Twentieth Century



http://www.amazon.com/American-Music-Twentieth-Century-Kyle/dp/002864655X/ref=la_B001HD43N4_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1394721020&sr=1-5
I finished reading the book. It's an invaluable guide to the 20th century American music, from Ives to Larry Polansky (just naming composers to whom major sections are dedicated) and many others. I listened to the music of composers as I read about them, thanks to youtube, soundcloud, composers' web sites with lots of audio clips, and digital download stores, which make the music easily accessible. I found so many wonderful composers who I didn't know or I only heard of. Some composers' works are difficult to assimilate (Oliveros, Rouse, Vierk, etc.), but it's a nice thing because that indicates the richness of American music and I can explorer them later. I still have not heard works of a few composers mentioned in the book. A greatly enjoyable and useful book.

Offline Mirror Image

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 53342
  • Béla Bartók (1881 - 1945)
  • Location: Northeast GA, US
  • Currently Listening to:
    Magyar tánc a faluban
Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
« Reply #143 on: October 08, 2014, 05:22:20 PM »
Phaidon Press has a great series of 20th Century books that I've been trying to collect. Right now, I've been reading the one on Schnittke (written by Alexander Ivashkin) and it's a bit lop-sided due to Ivashkin's own friendship with the composer, but it's still a very good read nonetheless.
“Competitions are for horses, not artists.”


Offline EigenUser

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 3328
  • Mahler's 9th - "Deadlifts in the midst of life"
    • Ligeti's Laboratory
  • Location: Northern VA
  • Currently Listening to:
    Bartok, Ligeti, Ravel, Gershwin, Debussy, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Feldman, Messiaen, Haydn, Ockeghem, Adès, Mahler, Ohana, Webern, Boulez, Varese, Beethoven, Berg, Scriabin, Tippett, Takemitsu, Vaughan-Williams
Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
« Reply #144 on: October 10, 2014, 12:59:30 AM »
Phaidon Press has a great series of 20th Century books that I've been trying to collect. Right now, I've been reading the one on Schnittke (written by Alexander Ivashkin) and it's a bit lop-sided due to Ivashkin's own friendship with the composer, but it's still a very good read nonetheless.
I borrowed the one on Webern from the library, but I have yet to read it (the library at my university has a great music section and I always bite off more than I can chew ;D -- my first day back I brought along a duffel bag!).
Beethoven's Op. 133 -- A fugue so bad that even Beethoven himself called it "Grosse".

Offline Mirror Image

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 53342
  • Béla Bartók (1881 - 1945)
  • Location: Northeast GA, US
  • Currently Listening to:
    Magyar tánc a faluban
Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
« Reply #145 on: October 10, 2014, 05:34:39 PM »
I borrowed the one on Webern from the library, but I have yet to read it (the library at my university has a great music section and I always bite off more than I can chew ;D -- my first day back I brought along a duffel bag!).

Cool, I'm anxious to read the one on Ligeti. After Schnittke, I'll probably read that one.

The ones I own so far:

Stravinsky
Bartok
Ligeti
Schnittke
Polish Renaissance (Lutoslawski, Penderecki, Panufnik, Gorecki)
Britten
Hindemith, Hartmann, Henze
“Competitions are for horses, not artists.”


Offline EigenUser

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 3328
  • Mahler's 9th - "Deadlifts in the midst of life"
    • Ligeti's Laboratory
  • Location: Northern VA
  • Currently Listening to:
    Bartok, Ligeti, Ravel, Gershwin, Debussy, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Feldman, Messiaen, Haydn, Ockeghem, Adès, Mahler, Ohana, Webern, Boulez, Varese, Beethoven, Berg, Scriabin, Tippett, Takemitsu, Vaughan-Williams
Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
« Reply #146 on: October 11, 2014, 12:56:09 AM »
Cool, I'm anxious to read the one on Ligeti. After Schnittke, I'll probably read that one.

The ones I own so far:

Stravinsky
Bartok
Ligeti
Schnittke
Polish Renaissance (Lutoslawski, Penderecki, Panufnik, Gorecki)
Britten
Hindemith, Hartmann, Henze
Oh, I forgot! That must have been the Toop biography, then (which I read last year).
Beethoven's Op. 133 -- A fugue so bad that even Beethoven himself called it "Grosse".

Offline Artem

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 937
Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
« Reply #147 on: February 07, 2015, 03:58:46 PM »
That book on late Stravinsky certainly looks interesting. Is it accessible to the mere aficionado?

On the other hand, the précis of Maconie's book (..."Stravinsky lived much of his life in Hollywood"..."his work subtly espoused deeply held political views"...etc.) doesn't really generate much enthusiasm in me, I must confess.  ::)

Does anyone know this book? It better be fantastic, because at almost $100,  it's not really cheap, is it?  >:( :


This book is now available in soft cover with a much more affordable price. I picked my copy for 26 Canadian dollars.

I'm only 10 pages into it. Seems interesting but the writing is a bit stiff.

Offline San Antone

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 8046
Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
« Reply #148 on: February 07, 2015, 06:41:50 PM »
Good news.  I bought the Kindle version when I saw the price.

Offline torut

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1012
Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
« Reply #149 on: February 07, 2015, 08:02:29 PM »
I ordered it, thank you. The Music Since 1900 series looks interesting, to me especially these three. Has anyone read any of them? They are still expensive, but the paperback of Cage/Tudor Correspondence will be published on March 5. The main chapters of the German book are dedicated to Lachenmann and Rihm. I don't know of books that are devoted to these composers.

Music in Germany since 1968 by Alastair Williams



John Cage and David Tudor: Correspondence on Interpretation and Performance by Dr Martin Iddon



The Spectral Piano: From Liszt, Scriabin, and Debussy to the Digital Age by Marilyn Nonken


Offline Artem

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 937
Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
« Reply #150 on: February 07, 2015, 08:51:22 PM »
Music in Germany since 1968 does look interesting. But at $100?! I'll probably wait a year or so for a paperback ;D

Offline Artem

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 937
Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
« Reply #151 on: June 02, 2015, 05:13:59 PM »

So, I finished this one.
It was worth reading. I had no idea that there was so much drama in Darmstadt. I hope there will be more books on Darmstadt and its composers in future, because despite of the "difficult music", the relationship between composers and other people involved with the institution can be interesting even to the general public.

Ken B

  • Guest
Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
« Reply #152 on: June 02, 2015, 05:17:07 PM »
So, I finished this one.
It was worth reading. I had no idea that there was so much drama in Darmstadt. I hope there will be more books on Darmstadt and its composers in future, because despite of the "difficult music", the relationship between composers and other people involved with the institution can be interesting even to the general public.
Dysfunction sells.

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 57926
  • Et quid amabo nisi quod ænigma est?
    • Henningmusick
  • Location: Boston, Mass.
  • Currently Listening to:
    Shostakovich, D. Scarlattii, Stravinsky, JS Bach, Liszt, Martinů, Haydn, Henning
Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
« Reply #153 on: June 03, 2015, 05:39:43 AM »
So, I finished this one.
It was worth reading. I had no idea that there was so much drama in Darmstadt.

The drama does not surprise me in the least.  (FWIW)

Dysfunction sells.

Unfortunately (IMO) true.
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Offline Mr Bloom

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 106
Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
« Reply #154 on: June 10, 2015, 07:56:04 AM »
There isn't really a good book for a newbie. Ross, Lebrecht and Taruskin (Oxford History of Western Music vols. 4 & 5) have very journalistic styles—accessible for sure, but partial, sensationalised and biased.
I've only read vol. 4 and some portions of vol. 5, but to say that Taruskin have a very journalistic style is quite misleading, especially in comparaison to Lebrecht and Ross. Although they are indeed necessarily partial, most of the volumes are made of exemplified musical analysis, which aren't "journalistic" at all. They are cleary not meant for the general audience, contrary to Ross' books.
Vol. 5 is much more controversial, but there is nothing in vol. 4 that is "sensationalised" (unless you consider that being cautious toward Webern's case is "sensational" writing) or overly biased. Even more, I think the book is much more conventional and un-sensationalised than Taruskin himself would want it to be.

Unless you have access to academic "history of music" classes, I still think vol. 4. is probably the best introduction to the first half of the XXth century you could get right now if you have basic knowledge in music theory. It is far from perfect and it is uneven, but it covers lots of ground with a particular logic that is based on actual musical analysis (most of them being quite "canon" analysis).

Offline EigenUser

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 3328
  • Mahler's 9th - "Deadlifts in the midst of life"
    • Ligeti's Laboratory
  • Location: Northern VA
  • Currently Listening to:
    Bartok, Ligeti, Ravel, Gershwin, Debussy, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Feldman, Messiaen, Haydn, Ockeghem, Adès, Mahler, Ohana, Webern, Boulez, Varese, Beethoven, Berg, Scriabin, Tippett, Takemitsu, Vaughan-Williams
Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
« Reply #155 on: July 02, 2015, 12:42:53 AM »
Has anyone (particularly Messiaen fans) heard of the book Messiaen's Final Works?



I've had it checked out from my university's library for months, but I just started reading through parts of it. Fans of Eclairs sur l'au-dela definitely should consider this. It has a huge section on that work and it is really giving me a new appreciation for it. It is very easily-read and not too technical for someone with little-to-no background in theory (there is some theory, but it can be skipped without loss of continuity).

I wish it had Des Canyons aux Etoiles..., though...
Beethoven's Op. 133 -- A fugue so bad that even Beethoven himself called it "Grosse".

Offline San Antone

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 8046
Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
« Reply #156 on: July 02, 2015, 01:51:14 AM »
Has anyone (particularly Messiaen fans) heard of the book Messiaen's Final Works?



I've had it checked out from my university's library for months, but I just started reading through parts of it. Fans of Eclairs sur l'au-dela definitely should consider this. It has a huge section on that work and it is really giving me a new appreciation for it. It is very easily-read and not too technical for someone with little-to-no background in theory (there is some theory, but it can be skipped without loss of continuity).

I wish it had Des Canyons aux Etoiles..., though...

Never seen it, but thanks very much for the information.  Too expensive for my personal library, but I will probably get it from my library and take a look at it.  Very interested in those works, for sure.  I am listening to Eclairs sur l'au-dela right now.  Do you have a preferred recording?  There are four on Spotify and I am beginning with Sylvain Cambreling and the SWR Symphony Orchrestra.



 :)

Offline EigenUser

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 3328
  • Mahler's 9th - "Deadlifts in the midst of life"
    • Ligeti's Laboratory
  • Location: Northern VA
  • Currently Listening to:
    Bartok, Ligeti, Ravel, Gershwin, Debussy, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Feldman, Messiaen, Haydn, Ockeghem, Adès, Mahler, Ohana, Webern, Boulez, Varese, Beethoven, Berg, Scriabin, Tippett, Takemitsu, Vaughan-Williams
Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
« Reply #157 on: July 02, 2015, 01:41:08 PM »
Never seen it, but thanks very much for the information.  Too expensive for my personal library, but I will probably get it from my library and take a look at it.  Very interested in those works, for sure.  I am listening to Eclairs sur l'au-dela right now.  Do you have a preferred recording?  There are four on Spotify and I am beginning with Sylvain Cambreling and the SWR Symphony Orchrestra.



 :)
I love this recording. I haven't heard enough to compare, but the one with the Vienna Philharmonic is also good (also on Spotify).
Beethoven's Op. 133 -- A fugue so bad that even Beethoven himself called it "Grosse".

Offline Wieland

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 81
  • Location: Stuttgart
Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
« Reply #158 on: September 25, 2015, 07:09:04 AM »
To everyone really interested in the music of Mieczyslaw Weinberg, I recommend this short (240 p) and well written biography by David Fanning. If you have a couple of Weinberg CDs you may know him already as a booklet author. This is supposedly a pre-study to a big biography which he is working on, however, for most people probably this will do. Unfortunately, still pricey.


Offline vandermolen

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 19995
  • Location: Rotherfield, Sussex, UK
Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
« Reply #159 on: September 25, 2015, 11:15:43 PM »
David Fanning was unfairly (in my view) dismissive of the Miaskovsky biography above which I found excellent.

I always liked Schoenzeler's short book on Bruckner, 'A Fire at Heart's Centre' which is about Bernard Herrmann and the autobiography of Arthur Bliss entitled 'As I Remember'. Omnibus Press did a great illustrated series on individual composers which I like very much by different authors, I have the ones on Sibelius, Vaughan Williams, Bliss, Holst, Rachmaninov and Elgar. 'Elgar as I Knew Him' by WH Reed is also excellent.
"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).