GMG Classical Music Forum

The Music Room => Classical Music for Beginners => Topic started by: torut on March 08, 2014, 12:05:54 PM

Title: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: torut on March 08, 2014, 12:05:54 PM
Are there any good books about 20th/21st Century composers like this, with more updated information?

The Companion To 20th-century Music
by Norman Lebrecht



This is a good book I keep using as reference, but the publication year was 1996 and some recent composers are missing.
I would like to know not only famous composers but also as many contemporary composers as possible, with descriptions of their styles, list of works, relationship with other composers (influence, pupils, mentors, etc.)

A summary of books mentioned in this thread, including not only recommended books but also that are not read by anyone or yet published.

Books about music history

Music in the Early Twentieth Century: The Oxford History of Western Music (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0195384849/?tag=goodmusicguideco) by Richard Taruskin (pub. 2009)
Music in the Late Twentieth Century: The Oxford History of Western Music (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0195384857/?tag=goodmusicguideco) by Richard Taruskin (pub. 2009)
A Concise History of Modern Music (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0500202788/?tag=goodmusicguideco) by Paul Griffiths : Debussy ~ Boulez (pub. 1978)
The Rest Is Noise (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0312427719/?tag=goodmusicguideco) by Alex Ross : 1900 ~ 2000 (pub. 2007)
Music in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0393929205/?tag=goodmusicguideco) by Joseph Auner : Mahler ~ Chen Yi(?) (pub. 2013)
The Companion To 20th-century Music (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0306807343/?tag=goodmusicguideco) by Norman Lebrecht : 1900 ~ 1996 (pub. 1996)
New Music at Darmstadt: Nono, Stockhausen, Cage, and Boulez (Music Since 1900) (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1107033292/?tag=goodmusicguideco) by Dr Martin Iddon (pub. 2013)
The Music of William Schuman, Vincent Persichetti, and Peter Mennin: Voices of Stone and Steel (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0810857480/?tag=goodmusicguideco) by Walter Simmons (pub. 2010)
The New Music: The Avant-garde since 1945 (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/%200193154684/?tag=goodmusicguideco) by Reginald Smith Brindle : 1945 ~ 1986 (pub. 1987, 2nd edition)
Modern Music - The avant garde since 1945 (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0807610186/?tag=goodmusicguideco) by Paul Griffiths : 1945 ~ 1981 (pub. 1981)
Modern Music and After (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/019974050X/?tag=goodmusicguideco) by Paul Griffiths : 1945 ~ 21th Century (Lachenman, Sciarrino, etc.) (2011, 3rd edition)
Experimental Music (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0521653835/?tag=goodmusicguideco) by Michael Nyman : 1950 ~ 1970, Cage, Cardew, Boulez, Berio, Stockhausen (pub. 1999, 2nd edition)
American Music in the Twentieth Century (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/002864655X/?tag=goodmusicguideco) by Kyle Gann : Ives ~ 1990s (pub. 1997)
Give My Regards to Eight Street: Collected Writings of Morton Feldman (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1878972316/?tag=goodmusicguideco) by Morton Feldman : New York School in the 1950s (pub. 2004)
The New York Schools of Music and the Visual Arts (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0415936942/?tag=goodmusicguideco) by Steven Johnson : 1st half of 20th Century (Cage, Feldman, Brown, Tudor) (pub. 2001)
This Life of Sounds: Evenings for New Music in Buffalo (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0199730776/?tag=goodmusicguideco) by Renee Levine Packer : 1964 ~ 1980, new music in America (pub. 2010)
Music Downtown: Writings from the Village Voice (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0520229827/?tag=goodmusicguideco) by Kyle Gann : 1980 ~ 1990s, Music in NYC (pub. 2006)
Electronic & Computer Music (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0199746397/?tag=goodmusicguideco) by Peter Manning : 1945 ~ present (pub. 2013, 4th edition)
"a history of modern composition since 1989" (http://johnsonsrambler.wordpress.com/2013/10/24/ok-this-awesome-i-really-am-writing-a-book/) by Tim Rutherford-Johnson (not published yet) : 1989 ~ present?
A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0226476960/?tag=goodmusicguideco) by George E. Lewis : 1965 ~ (pub. 2009)
Beyond the Dream Syndicate: Tony Conrad and the Arts After Cage (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1890951870/?tag=goodmusicguideco) by Branden W. Joseph : 1960s art (pub. 2011)
Forbidden Music: The Jewish Composers Banned by the Nazis (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0300154305/?tag=goodmusicguideco) by Michael Haas (2013)

Books about individual composers

Stockhausen: Other Planets: The Music of Karlheinz Stockhausen (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0810853566/?tag=goodmusicguideco) by Robin Maconie (pub. 2005)
Ligeti: György Ligeti: Music of the Imagination (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1555535518/?tag=goodmusicguideco) by Richard Steinitz (pub. 2003)
Wolff: Christian Wolff (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0252078969/?tag=goodmusicguideco) by Michael Hicks and Chrisitan Asplund (pub. 2012)
Schoenberg: Schoenberg (Master Musicians Series) (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B005NJS9YC/?tag=goodmusicguideco) by Malcolm MacDonald (pub. 2008, 2nd edition)
Schoenberg: Arnold Schoenberg's Journey (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0674011015/?tag=goodmusicguideco) by Allen Shawn (pub. 2002)
Stravinsky: Experiencing Stravinsky: A Listener's Companion (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0810884305/?tag=goodmusicguideco) by Robin Maconie (pub. 2013)
Stravinsky: Stravinsky's Late Music (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0521602882/?tag=goodmusicguideco) by Joseph N. Straus (pub. 2004)
Stravinsky: Stravinsky: A Creative Spring: Russia and France, 1882-1934 (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0679414843/?tag=goodmusicguideco) by Stephen Walsh (pub. 2002)
Stravinsky: Stravinsky: The Second Exile: France and America, 1934-1971 (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0520256158/?tag=goodmusicguideco) by Stephen Walsh (pub. 2008)
Stravinsky: Stravinsky: The Composer and His Works (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0520039858/?tag=goodmusicguideco) by Eric Walter White (pub. 1985, 2nd edition)
Bartók: My Father (http://www.bartokrecords.com/books/) by Peter Bartók (pub. 2002)
Cardew: Cornelius Cardew - A Life Unfinished (http://www.matchlessrecordings.com/cornelius-cardew-life-unfinished) by John Tilbury (pub. 2008)
Boulez, André Schaeffner: Correspondance 1954 - 1970; présentée et annotée par Rosângela Pereira de Tugny
Cage: Where the Heart Beats: John Cage, Zen Buddhism, and the Inner Life of Artists (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0143123475/?tag=goodmusicguideco[/url) by Kay Larson (2013)
Boulez, Cage: Pierre Boulez John Cage:Correspondance et Documents edited by Jean-Jacques Nattiez, Robert Piencikowski
Boulez: Entretien avec Pierre Boulez by François Meïmoun (2010)
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: North Star on March 08, 2014, 01:36:25 PM
I can't say I value Lebrecht much at all. Alex Ross's The Rest Is Noise is a brilliant book though, even if it does glance over some composers (Wuorinen, under who Karl studied).

http://www.therestisnoise.com/

Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: torut on March 08, 2014, 04:13:42 PM
I can't say I value Lebrecht much at all. Alex Ross's The Rest Is Noise is a brilliant book though, even if it does glance over some composers (Wuorinen, under who Karl studied).

http://www.therestisnoise.com/

I bought it some time ago but have not read it yet. Thank you.
I find a bad reputation of Lebrecht here and there. Is it because of his scandalous books about conductors, singers, classical music business, etc.? And/or his musical assessments are unreliable/biased? I liked the book above because it was an accessible book to find many 20th century composers I didn't know. But even this book has some bad reviews on Amazon. ("Too much cheap, flip opinion, not much insight" ...)
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: amw on March 08, 2014, 07:26:03 PM
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 don't know Paul Griffiths's Modern Music and After, which some people have praised as a good alternative to those three, while also criticising it as dry and scholarly.

Also, there's very little writing on contemporary music to be found. For that you may want to wait for Tim Rutherford-Johnson's book (http://johnsonsrambler.wordpress.com/2013/10/24/ok-this-awesome-i-really-am-writing-a-book/) which I'm hopeful for at least. Otherwise, I suggest reading a lot of books—not just one or two—while carefully analysing the language used to refer to particular composers or works, and bearing in mind that the mainstream narratives tend to ignore any 20th century music from countries other than America, Russia, Germany, Austria, France and Britain.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: torut on March 08, 2014, 08:15:17 PM
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 don't know Paul Griffiths's Modern Music and After, which some people have praised as a good alternative to those three, while also criticising it as dry and scholarly.

Also, there's very little writing on contemporary music to be found. For that you may want to wait for Tim Rutherford-Johnson's book (http://johnsonsrambler.wordpress.com/2013/10/24/ok-this-awesome-i-really-am-writing-a-book/) which I'm hopeful for at least. Otherwise, I suggest reading a lot of books—not just one or two—while carefully analysing the language used to refer to particular composers or works, and bearing in mind that the mainstream narratives tend to ignore any 20th century music from countries other than America, Russia, Germany, Austria, France and Britain.
That book looks interesting. I wish it will be realized, but we need to wait 2-3 years. (And it may be delayed...) The book about "a history of modern composition since 1989" could be a complement of Paul Griffiths's old books. I read the following books a long time ago. I want to read them again. (I have not read Modern Music and After.)

Paul Griffiths: A Concise History of Modern Music (1978)
Paul Griffiths: Modern Music - The avant garde since 1945 (1981)
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: jochanaan on March 09, 2014, 07:24:04 AM
Or perhaps, instead of buying books, you could listen to the music. :)
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: torut on March 09, 2014, 07:52:41 AM
Thank you, both books look good for learning the composers in depth.

Or perhaps, instead of buying books, you could listen to the music. :)
A good advice. I understand the danger of indulging too much in peripheral information about music that may prevent appreciating the music itself without prejudice or bias. (There was a good example in Japan recently ...   ;D)
Actually, my original intention was to find a good reference book about contemporary music with concise description of each composer, so I can find new composers by skimming it or know basic information about interesting composers. For that purpose, I think the Lebrecht book is good, and I am wondering if there are any this kind of books with more updated information.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: Ken B on March 09, 2014, 08:23:26 AM
Thank you, both books look good for learning the composers in depth.
A good advice. I understand the danger of indulging too much in peripheral information about music that may prevent appreciating the music itself without prejudice or bias. (There was a good example in Japan recently ...   ;D)
Actually, my original intention was to find a good reference book about contemporary music with concise description of each composer, so I can find new composers by skimming it or know basic information about interesting composers. For that purpose, I think the Lebrecht book is good, and I am wondering if there are any this kind of books with more updated information.
Lebrecht is a highly opinionated with a lot of hobby horses. That exactly describes a lot of us here! It's the kind of mix that leads to contention.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: Artem on March 09, 2014, 06:57:29 PM
This topic is a great idea, because I always look for good books about music.

I'm a big fan of The Rest is Noise book. I didn't like Paul Griffith's Modern Music and After, because, even though it is more inclusive of modern composers, it actually reads like a dictionary.

There're several books that I'd highly recommend that are related to the New York School of composers, specifically, Give My Regards to Eight Street: Collected Writings of Morton Feldman edited by B.H. Friedman, The New York Schools of Music and Visual Arts edited by Steven Johnson, Renee Levine Packer's This Life of Sounds: Evenings for New Music in Buffalo and Christian Wolff by Michael Hicks and Chrisitan Asplund.

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51YJ06m8cnL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51x62mZaEZL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU15_.jpg)

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51xSvfBwC4L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU15_.jpg)(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/31pcE3z7rML._SL500_AA300_.jpg)
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: amw on March 09, 2014, 08:48:13 PM
Lebrecht is a highly opinionated with a lot of hobby horses. That exactly describes a lot of us here! It's the kind of mix that leads to contention.

He also makes a lot of factual mistakes, which I guess also describes a lot of us here.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: torut on March 09, 2014, 11:03:31 PM
This topic is a great idea, because I always look for good books about music.

I'm a big fan of The Rest is Noise book. I didn't like Paul Griffith's Modern Music and After, because, even though it is more inclusive of modern composers, it actually reads like a dictionary.

There're several books that I'd highly recommend that are related to the New York School of composers, specifically, Give My Regards to Eight Street: Collected Writings of Morton Feldman edited by B.H. Friedman, The New York Schools of Music and Visual Arts edited by Steven Johnson, Renee Levine Packer's This Life of Sounds: Evenings for New Music in Buffalo and Christian Wolff by Michael Hicks and Chrisitan Asplund.
Thank you for recommendation. These look interesting because I like John Cage and am checking some music of Feldman and Tudor. I read only some of John Cage's books.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: torut on March 09, 2014, 11:13:18 PM
He also makes a lot of factual mistakes, which I guess also describes a lot of us here.
Oh ... so, even the companion book is unreliable as a reference? I also have the book of musical anecdotes. Does it also have many factual mistakes?
If it is about personal preference or bias toward certain composers, I am fine.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: amw on March 10, 2014, 12:46:31 AM
Here's Modern Music and After (http://www.scribd.com/doc/176843221/Griffiths-P-2011-Modern-Music-and-After-Oxford) if anyone wants to read it. On a superficial glance it does look a bit dictionary-like to me as well.

Oh ... so, even the companion book is unreliable as a reference? I also have the book of musical anecdotes. Does it also have many factual mistakes?

I don't know if the companion book is reliable or not—haven't read it—but I do know that inaccuracies in Lebrecht's newspaper column have been pointed out with some frequency, and one of his previous books had to be withdrawn and an apology issue because the Naxos CEO threatened to sue him for libel. (Although that could mean anything.)
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: San Antone on March 10, 2014, 03:15:14 AM
I found Modern Music and After an easy read and one I come back to again and again, it is well researched and written, but Alex Ross's book struck me as uneven, too conservative in its selection and too preoccupied with non-musical issues, but I agree on the other books in this post, especially the first two. 

There're several books that I'd highly recommend that are related to the New York School of composers, specifically, Give My Regards to Eight Street: Collected Writings of Morton Feldman edited by B.H. Friedman, The New York Schools of Music and Visual Arts edited by Steven Johnson, Renee Levine Packer's This Life of Sounds: Evenings for New Music in Buffalo and Christian Wolff by Michael Hicks and Chrisitan Asplund.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: Cato on March 10, 2014, 06:06:00 AM
Allow me to recommend a book about 3 of the top "H's" in classical music after 1920:

Hartmann, Hindemith, and Henze by Guy Rickards.

See:

http://www.amazon.com/Hartmann-Hindemith-Henze-Century-Composers/dp/0714831743 (http://www.amazon.com/Hartmann-Hindemith-Henze-Century-Composers/dp/0714831743)
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on March 10, 2014, 06:38:43 AM
Allow me to recommend a book about 3 of the top "H's" in classical music after 1920:

Hartmann, Hindemith, and Henze by Guy Rickards.

See:

http://www.amazon.com/Hartmann-Hindemith-Henze-Century-Composers/dp/0714831743 (http://www.amazon.com/Hartmann-Hindemith-Henze-Century-Composers/dp/0714831743)

Aye, that one abides in my Wish List   0:)

I've been reading this, and have been happily immersed in Schoenberg all over again:

Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on March 10, 2014, 06:44:54 AM
Quote
Hear the name “Igor Stravinsky” and the first thing that comes to mind is a composer of ponderous, “serious” music.

Erm, really?  That's a cartoon I don't recognize at all.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: Cato on March 10, 2014, 06:56:25 AM
Arnold Schoenberg's Journey (Allen Shawn)
Proposing that Arnold Schoenberg has been more discussed than heard, more tolerated than loved, Allen Shawn puts aside ultimate judgments about Schoenberg's place in music history to explore the composer's fascinating world in a series of linked essays--"soundings"--that are both searching and wonderfully suggestive. Approaching Schoenberg primarily from the listener's point of view, Shawn plunges into the details of some of Schoenberg's works while at the same time providing a broad overview of his involvements in music, painting, and the history through which he lived.




This book I can also recommend: rather unusual in its goals.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on March 10, 2014, 06:56:56 AM
This book I can also recommend: rather unusual in its goals.

Aye, that one's been on my Wish List for a spell, too.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: San Antone on March 10, 2014, 07:32:29 AM
Regarding Stravinsky, this is currently on my side table:



Joseph N. Straus is an excellent writer on contemporary music, his books are well researched and sourced, and not dull reading (at least not for me).  His book on American Serialists (http://www.amazon.com/Twelve-Tone-Music-America-Twentieth-Century/dp/0521899559/ref=sr_1_9?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1394465408&sr=1-9) is excellent.  I will probably get his book on Post Tonal Theory (http://www.amazon.com/Introduction-Post-Tonal-Theory-Joseph-Straus/dp/0131898906/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1394465408&sr=1-1) at some point.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on March 10, 2014, 07:39:58 AM
Regarding Stravinsky, this is currently on my side table:



Joseph N. Straus is an excellent writer on contemporary music, his books are well researched and sourced, and not dull reading (at least not for me).  His book on American Serialists (http://www.amazon.com/Twelve-Tone-Music-America-Twentieth-Century/dp/0521899559/ref=sr_1_9?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1394465408&sr=1-9) is excellent.  I will probably get his book on Post Tonal Theory (http://www.amazon.com/Introduction-Post-Tonal-Theory-Joseph-Straus/dp/0131898906/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1394465408&sr=1-1) at some point.

Mm, I must seek that one out.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: ritter on March 10, 2014, 07:52:36 AM
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?  >:( :


Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: San Antone on March 10, 2014, 08:02:40 AM
That book on late Stravinsky certainly looks interesting. Is it accessible to the mere aficionado?

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



You need to be able to read music in order and be familiar with the standard vocabulary of 12-tone composition in order to appreciate much of the analysis of the music.  That book on Darmstadt is one I've thought about getting, but the price has held me off from purchasing a book that appears to somewhat redundant of another book I already own, on the European Serialists (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0521619920/ref=oh_details_o00_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1) which encompasses much of the Darmstadt period.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on March 10, 2014, 08:24:59 AM
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.  ::)

Oof. Personally, I despise that sort of book  ;)
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: ritter on March 10, 2014, 08:47:32 AM
Thanks James, Karlhenning and Sanantonio for your comments! :)

I do read music, but cannot, for example, quote sections of Schoenberg's Harmonielehre (if that is the kind of knowledge that is required  ;) )

My personal library includes almost everything that has been published by or on Boulez, several tomes on Stockhausen, Elliott Carter, Stravinsky, etc. , but I am not a professional musician by any means... Some of the books are very accessible to me, and some way beyond my reach  :-[. In any case, I'm more interested in the historical aspects of this music, than in the  theoretical and technical side of things (a stance that reflects my limited--but not complete absence of--musical training).

My objection with the (apparent) tone of the Maconie book is what could appear to be (always based on the abstract and reviews) a banalization of Stravinsky's art. I really can't understand why our dear Igor Feodorovich would be a better (or worse) composer, or a more interesting figure, because, e.g. he "did work closely with Disney on Fantasia and spent years in Hollywood".
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: San Antone on March 10, 2014, 08:50:36 AM
Thanks James, Karlhenning and Sanantonio for your comments! :)

I do read music, but cannot, for example, quote sections of Schoenberg's Harmonielehre (if that is the kind of knowledge that is required  ;) )

My personal library includes almost everything that has been published by or on Boulez, several tomes on Stockhausen, Elliott Carter, Stravinsky, etc. , but I am not a professional musician by any means... Some of the books are very accessible to me, and some way beyond my reach  :-[. In any case, I'm more interested in the historical aspects of this music, than in the  theoretical and technical side of things (a stance that reflects my limited--but not complete absence of--musical training).

My objection with the (apparent) tone of the Maconie book is what could appear to be (always based on the abstract and reviews) a banalization of Stravinsky's art. I really can't understand why our dear Igor Feodorovich would be a better (or worse) composer, or a more interesting figure, because, e.g. he "did work closely with Disney on Fantasia and spent years in Hollywood".

If you don't already have the Stephen Walsh book on Stravinsky (http://www.amazon.com/Music-Stravinsky-Clarendon-Paperbacks/dp/0198163754/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1394470205&sr=1-2&keywords=Stephen+Walsh+Stravinsky), I'd say it is one to consider.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on March 10, 2014, 08:52:49 AM
If you don't already have the Stephen Walsh book on Stravinsky (http://www.amazon.com/Music-Stravinsky-Clarendon-Paperbacks/dp/0198163754/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1394470205&sr=1-2&keywords=Stephen+Walsh+Stravinsky), I'd say it is one to consider.

+ 1
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: ritter on March 10, 2014, 08:59:27 AM
If you don't already have the Stephen Walsh book on Stravinsky (http://www.amazon.com/Music-Stravinsky-Clarendon-Paperbacks/dp/0198163754/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1394470205&sr=1-2&keywords=Stephen+Walsh+Stravinsky), I'd say it is one to consider.
I've read volume 2 "Second Exile", after buying it here in a bookstore in Madrid. I found it a fascinating read...  :)

I really should make a point of reading the first volume asap...
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: ritter on March 10, 2014, 09:05:32 AM
I've read volume 2 "Second Exile", after buying it here in a bookstore in Madrid. I found it a fascinating read...  :)

I really should make a point of reading the first volume asap...

Ooops...your link is to another book by Walsh  :-[. I thought you meant the biography in two volumes:





Well, now I know there's TWO Walsh books I need to explore...  ;)
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on March 10, 2014, 09:20:05 AM
Ooops...your link is to another book by Walsh  :-[. I thought you meant the biography in two volumes:

That's what I thought when plus-oned . . . I have not wished to mathematically cancel it out, though ;)
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: ritter on March 10, 2014, 09:26:19 AM
ritter ..

Maconie's Stravinsky book is great for general listeners, it is right up your alley & fun.
Get this book and the integral 22CD Sony Box (http://www.amazon.com/Works-Igor-Stravinsky/dp/B000PTYUQG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1394471471&sr=8-1&keywords=Stravinsky+Works) and go on an odyssey that will only enrich.

The 2 go hand-in-hand.

The 22-CD set has been in my collection for years...not only that, I still have the original vinyl centennial edition (a present from my mother, received more than 30 years ago  :-X )... One of the very few LP sets I still own... :)
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on March 10, 2014, 09:43:28 AM
This is the Stravinsky survey I should suggest to the general listener (although, now, supplemented by the two-volume Walsh biography):



Oh, good heavens -- if Maconie writes that Stravinsky did work closely with Disney on Fantasia, he's indulging in pure fantasist drivel.

To cut to the chase:

Quote from: Stephen Walsh
Stravinsky was consulted on none of these changes, of course, and they came as a complete surprise to him when he saw the finished film eighteen months or so later.

--from p. 90, Stravinsky, The Second Exile: France and America, 1934-1971

All that I am seeing about Maconie's book in this thread, indicates that it is laughably inaccurate and wilfully tendentious.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on March 10, 2014, 09:56:32 AM
Has anyone read this one?

Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on March 10, 2014, 09:58:33 AM
I find a bad reputation of Lebrecht here and there. Is it because of his scandalous books about conductors, singers, classical music business, etc.? And/or his musical assessments are unreliable/biased?

He's the world's first tabloid musicologist ;)
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: North Star on March 10, 2014, 10:19:50 AM
He's the world's first tabloid musicologist ;)
Pioneers deserve respect... of course, some are also killed by bears. One can always hope, I suppose.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on March 10, 2014, 10:21:45 AM
I'd feel sorry for the bear, truly.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: torut on March 10, 2014, 11:46:45 AM
He's the world's first tabloid musicologist ;)
I admit I enjoyed his books (Maestro Myth, Life and Death of Classical Music) with interest that is not so noble.   ;D
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on March 10, 2014, 11:55:14 AM
I respect your confession ;)
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: torut on March 10, 2014, 11:59:28 AM
Thank you for many suggestions. I would like to check the books about individual composers.
Regarding overview-type books, has anyone read this?

Music in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries
Joseph Auner



There is an accompanying book Anthology for Music in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries (http://www.amazon.com/Anthology-Twentieth-Twenty-First-Centuries-Western/dp/0393920216) with this description.
Quote
Twenty-six carefully chosen works—including music by Claude Debussy, Kurt Weill, William Grant Still, Pauline Oliveros, and Chen Yi—offer representative examples of genres and composers of the period.
These names are unfamiliar for me, except the first two.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on March 10, 2014, 12:04:29 PM
William Grant Still is often referred to as "the Dean" of African-American composers.  Pauline Oliveros may still be active in NYC.  The last name is unknown to me.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: San Antone on March 10, 2014, 12:04:51 PM
Thank you for many suggestions. I would like to check the books about individual composers.
Regarding overview-type books, has anyone read this?

Music in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries
Joseph Auner



There is an accompanying book Anthology for Music in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries (http://www.amazon.com/Anthology-Twentieth-Twenty-First-Centuries-Western/dp/0393920216) with this description.These names are unfamiliar for me, except the first two.

I have not seen that book before - it is rather new, published in May, 2013.  That would be the most recent book of this sort that I am aware of.  Not prohibitively expensive either.  Hmm, Wishlist worthy.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: torut on March 10, 2014, 06:13:02 PM
Amazon.com has no review or "look inside" feature for these books. I found the table of contents from the publisher's site (http://books.wwnorton.com/books/detail-contents.aspx?ID=4294971246&PID=0). I am afraid that the book may not cover recent composers enough because its range is quite wide, actually starting from the beginning of 20th century. The only names new to me are Still, Oliveros, Davidovsky and Chen Yi. (I wish more not-well-know, recent composers were included.)

MUSIC IN THE TWENTIETH AND TWENTY-FIRST CENTURIES

1. Introduction: A Sense of Possibility
Part I: From the Turn of the Century to the First World War
2. Expanding Musical Worlds at the Turn of the Twentieth Century
3. Making New Musical Languages
4. Folk Sources, the Primitive, and the Search for Authenticity
Part II: The Interwar Years
5. New Music Taking Flight after World War I
6. Paris, Neo-Classicism, and the Art of the Everyday
7. The Search for Order and Balance
8. Inventing Traditions
Part III: The Second World War and Its Aftermath
9. Rebuilding amid the Ruins
10. Electronic Music from Magnetic Tape to the Internet
11. Trajectories of Order and Chance
Part IV: From the 1960s to the Present
12. Texture, Groups, Loops, and Layers
13. Histories Recollected and Remade
14. Minimalism and its Repercussions
15. Border Crossings

ANTHOLOGY CONTENTS

1. Gustav Mahler, Symphony No. 3, fourth movement
2. Claude Debussy, Estampes, Pagodes
3. Arnold Schoenberg, Pierrot lunaire, No. 1, Mondestrunken
4. Alban Berg, Wozzeck, Act 3, Scene 3
5. Charles Ives, Symphony No. 4, first movement
6. Igor Stravinsky, The Rite of Spring, Introduction
7. Kurt Weill, Lindbergh’s Flight, Introduction of the Pilot
8. Igor Stravinsky, Symphony of Psalms, second movement
9. Maurice Ravel, Piano Concerto in G, first movement
10. Arnold Schoenberg, Piece for Piano, Op. 33a
11. Anton Webern, Symphony Op. 21, second movement
12. Béla Bartók, Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celeste, first movement
13. Aaron Copland, Billy the Kid, “Street in a Frontier Town”
14. William Grant Still, Africa, second movement, Land of Romance
15. Benjamin Britten, War Requiem, Requiem aeternam
16. Dmitri Shostakovich, String Quartet No. 8, third movement
17. Pierre Boulez, Le Marteau sans Maitre, No. 5, Bel Édifice Et Les Pressentiments
18. Pauline Oliveros, Traveling Companions
19. Mario Davidovsky, Synchronisms No. 6 for Piano and Electronic Sounds (1970), excerpt
20. Kaija Saariaho, Noa Noa
21. György Ligeti, Continuum for Harpsichord
22. Elliott Carter, String Quartet No. 5: Introduction, Giocoso, Interlude, first movement
23. George Crumb, Vox Balanae, excerpt
24. Chen Yi, Ba Ban
25. Steve Reich, Violin Phase
26. John Adams, Doctor Atomic, Act 1, Scene 3, “Batter My Heart”
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: San Antone on March 10, 2014, 06:22:14 PM
After seeing the contents I have no need for this book.  Thanks.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: torut on March 10, 2014, 06:32:11 PM
After seeing the contents I have no need for this book.  Thanks.
The title is a little deceiving. This is the first book I saw that includes "Twenty-First Century" in the title, which caused high expectation, but there should be already many good books for this kind of contents.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on March 11, 2014, 03:57:24 AM
Thanks for your research on this title!
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: 7/4 on March 11, 2014, 05:31:13 AM
Pauline Oliveros may still be active in NYC.  The last name is unknown to me.

Kingston, NY

http://deeplistening.org/site/ (http://deeplistening.org/site/)
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: San Antone on March 11, 2014, 05:53:01 AM
Chen Yi (http://www.presser.com/Composers/info.cfm?Name=ChenYi)
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: torut on March 11, 2014, 12:01:16 PM
Thank you for information about the composers. I want to check their music. (They must be excellent, because the names are listed among the greats, right?  :))
I am now hearing William Grant Still's Afro-American Symphony. This is nice. It sounds like Gershwin.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on March 11, 2014, 01:58:44 PM
It is nice.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: Cato on March 11, 2014, 02:27:12 PM
Amazon.com has no review or "look inside" feature for these books. I found the table of contents from the publisher's site (http://books.wwnorton.com/books/detail-contents.aspx?ID=4294971246&PID=0). I am afraid that the book may not cover recent composers enough because its range is quite wide, actually starting from the beginning of 20th century. The only names new to me are Still, Oliveros, Davidovsky and Chen Yi. (I wish more not-well-know, recent composers were included.)

Like our resident GMG composers!

And it is amazing that such an anthology lacks well-known composers with unique styles e.g. Scriabin, Hartmann, Messiaen, Nono, Stockhausen and many others (completely ignoring xenharmonic composers Harry Partch, Ivan Wyschnegradsky, Julian Carrillo, Easley Blackwood, Ben Johnston etc., but includes Davidovsky and Oliveros (?).

Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: EigenUser on March 11, 2014, 04:50:58 PM
It's interesting that this topic was posted literally the day that I bought "The Rest is Noise", which I see was already mentioned. I have to admit that I'm a little disappointed. It's a great book, but I think that my hopes were so high that nothing Ross wrote could have satisfied them.

I think that the most enjoyable musical biography I've read has to be "Gyorgy Ligeti: Of Foreign Lands and Strange Sounds". It actually isn't a biography at all, rather it is a collection of several essays about the composer. Unfortunately it is extremely pricey ($85). Luckily, my university's library has it. You will learn things about Ligeti and his music that you simply won't learn elsewhere. Especially interesting is the article on fractals and chaos theory and the effect that this new science had on the composer (written by renowned mathematician Heinz-Otto Peitgen, also a close friend of Ligeti).

Bela Bartok's son Peter wrote a really touching biography of his father called, well, "My Father". It doesn't read like a biography, which I actually really like about it. It is more like each page is a rummage through a chest of old memories -- lots of pictures. The last 30 pages or so are translations of letters sent from Bela to Peter.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: Ken B on March 11, 2014, 05:16:25 PM
Generally .. people outside of the niche tend to view classical music this way.
All too true. Karl wasn't the one being asked to picture.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: petrarch on March 11, 2014, 05:38:56 PM
Experiencing Stravinsky: A Listener's Companion (Robin Maconie)

[/font]

I have that one and more than once tried to read it. I like Maconie's book on Stockhausen, but this one pales in comparison to the books already mentioned (Walsh's two-volume biography, and Stravinsky's Late Music, all three very good reads).

Way back in the day, Griffith's was an essential element in my introduction to modern music. A couple of weeks ago I browsed the latest edition at B&N and enjoyed the updated chapters. I have mentioned this before I think, but my favorite is still La musique du XXe siècle, by Jean-Noël von der Weid. I think there is a 2nd and possibly 3rd edition of the book.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: torut on March 11, 2014, 10:20:04 PM
Like our resident GMG composers!
But we have a great board "Composing and Performing."  :) I enjoyed some of the member's music there.

Quote
And it is amazing that such an anthology lacks well-known composers with unique styles e.g. Scriabin, Hartmann, Messiaen, Nono, Stockhausen and many others (completely ignoring xenharmonic composers Harry Partch, Ivan Wyschnegradsky, Julian Carrillo, Easley Blackwood, Ben Johnston etc., but includes Davidovsky and Oliveros (?).
Yes, I thought the selection looked a little unusual, maybe unbalanced.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: torut on March 11, 2014, 10:30:49 PM
I have mentioned this before I think, but my favorite is still La musique du XXe siècle, by Jean-Noël von der Weid. I think there is a 2nd and possibly 3rd edition of the book.
Is there an English version of the book?

I have forgotten that I read this book a long time ago. It is also a little old (1st edition in 1975, and 2nd edition I have has a short chapter that covers up to 1986.) This is rather short book (230 pages), but there are many examples of scores and figures, like how to manipulate music parameters using integral serialism (looks like mathematical puzzle book), graphic scores, flow chart for electrical music, etc. I forgot the details but I remember that it was fun to read.

The New Music: The Avant-garde since 1945
Reginald Smith Brindle

Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: torut on March 11, 2014, 10:42:31 PM
It's interesting that this topic was posted literally the day that I bought "The Rest is Noise", which I see was already mentioned. I have to admit that I'm a little disappointed. It's a great book, but I think that my hopes were so high that nothing Ross wrote could have satisfied them.

I think that the most enjoyable musical biography I've read has to be "Gyorgy Ligeti: Of Foreign Lands and Strange Sounds". It actually isn't a biography at all, rather it is a collection of several essays about the composer. Unfortunately it is extremely pricey ($85). Luckily, my university's library has it. You will learn things about Ligeti and his music that you simply won't learn elsewhere. Especially interesting is the article on fractals and chaos theory and the effect that this new science had on the composer (written by renowned mathematician Heinz-Otto Peitgen, also a close friend of Ligeti).

Bela Bartok's son Peter wrote a really touching biography of his father called, well, "My Father". It doesn't read like a biography, which I actually really like about it. It is more like each page is a rummage through a chest of old memories -- lots of pictures. The last 30 pages or so are translations of letters sent from Bela to Peter.
I didn't know that Ligeti was interested in fractals and chaos. Interesting. Did he incorporate fractals into his music? (Like statistics and Xenakis's music?)
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: San Antone on March 12, 2014, 03:51:21 AM
Regarding experimental music, Michael Nyman wrote a pretty good book.   This book was written before his career as a composer.



Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: EigenUser on March 12, 2014, 04:21:30 AM
I didn't know that Ligeti was interested in fractals and chaos. Interesting. Did he incorporate fractals into his music? (Like statistics and Xenakis's music?)

I am not all too familiar with Xenakis, but if I understand correctly he used statistics directly and mathematically. Ligeti studied to become a scientist (only going to the conservatory after being turned down by the science academy because he was Jewish during 1930s Europe) and he could have written notes, durations, dynamics, etc. according to some mathematical output using fractals, but he doesn't. Instead, he takes an intuitive approach and interprets mathematical and scientific ideas more artistically. For example, consider his (awesome  ;)) piano concerto. There isn't any formulaic writing that can be found in Xenakis (with statistics), but rather an artistic interpretation of chaos theory. In the fourth movement, a few motifs are presented in a sparse, plain style. I like to think of this as "the overall picture" of the Mandelbrot Set. As the work progresses, the same motifs are heard. However, they are sped-up and fragmented. To me, this is like what happens visually if you keep zooming in on the Mandelbrot Set plot. It keeps multiplying (self-similarity)!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gEw8xpb1aRA
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: 7/4 on March 12, 2014, 01:16:47 PM
Regarding experimental music, Michael Nyman wrote a pretty good book.   This book was written before his career as a composer.



Oh yes! It was a good introduction for this teenager in 1976. :)
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: San Antone on March 12, 2014, 02:19:14 PM
Oh yes! It was a good introduction for this teenager in 1976. :)

The second edition brought it more up to date. 

[EDIT] - Actually the second edition was NOT updated.  My mistake.  The only new material are new prefaces.  However, the need was felt that because the book had been out of print and unavailable for so long that a new generation of readers would benefit from having it readily available.  The book captures that generation around Cage and Cardew and focuses on the period before Minimalism, and for this reason, there really was no need to include chapters on composers from the later decades.

I just wanted to make this note in order to stop someone who already had the original book from buying the 2nd edition thinking there was new material.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: petrarch on March 12, 2014, 04:02:25 PM
The New Music: The Avant-garde since 1945
Reginald Smith Brindle



Ah yes, that is a good one. I have the 1987 edition and I agree, the graphic score examples were fascinating. The chapter on pointillism was what spurred my imagination and made me "crack the nut" of serial music and more generally of the output of the Darmstadt composers. It certainly helps that Smith-Brindle is himself a composer of serial music. His Serial Composition is also an interesting read if you are into the technical aspects.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: San Antone on March 12, 2014, 04:15:36 PM
Ah yes, that is a good one. I have the 1987 edition and I agree, the graphic score examples were fascinating. The chapter on pointillism was what spurred my imagination and made me "crack the nut" of serial music and more generally of the output of the Darmstadt composers. It certainly helps that Smith-Brindle is himself a composer of serial music. His Serial Composition is also an interesting read if you are into the technical aspects.

I knew his name was familiar; I have his book on Serial Composition.  But I don't need another book on the last 50 years of the 20th C.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: petrarch on March 12, 2014, 04:45:23 PM
I knew his name was familiar; I have his book on Serial Composition.  But I don't need another book on the last 50 years of the 20th C.

Of course, the state of the art book-wise on the topic has advanced considerably, not to mention how spare that book is on some very important composers and styles. However, it still is a very good read for the documentary value of having a composer articulate that period of music history through his own lens. There clearly are different angles in each of the books mentioned, and in my opinion this depends primarily on the nationality of the author and to some extent his or her aesthetic preferences. The end result is they all complement each other nicely, even at the cost of some redundancy.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: torut on March 12, 2014, 07:59:45 PM
I am not all too familiar with Xenakis, but if I understand correctly he used statistics directly and mathematically. Ligeti studied to become a scientist (only going to the conservatory after being turned down by the science academy because he was Jewish during 1930s Europe) and he could have written notes, durations, dynamics, etc. according to some mathematical output using fractals, but he doesn't. Instead, he takes an intuitive approach and interprets mathematical and scientific ideas more artistically. For example, consider his (awesome  ;)) piano concerto. There isn't any formulaic writing that can be found in Xenakis (with statistics), but rather an artistic interpretation of chaos theory. In the fourth movement, a few motifs are presented in a sparse, plain style. I like to think of this as "the overall picture" of the Mandelbrot Set. As the work progresses, the same motifs are heard. However, they are sped-up and fragmented. To me, this is like what happens visually if you keep zooming in on the Mandelbrot Set plot. It keeps multiplying (self-similarity)!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gEw8xpb1aRA
Thank you. Mandelbrot Set is so fascinating. I want to re-listen to some of Ligeti. (I have the piano concerto on Ligeti Project I CD, but I cannot play it, because my CD player is broken, and it cannot be ripped with computer, because of the copy protection (I think.) All the CDs that cannot be ripped (Mozart/Beethoven, Berio) are Warner's.  >:()
I don't know how accurately Xenakis applied mathematics on his music. Some say it is pseudo-mathematics. In any case, if the music is good, it doesn't matter, but it is fun for me to know theories behind music.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: 7/4 on March 13, 2014, 06:34:00 AM
Kyle Gann - Music Downtown: Writings from the Village Voice

(http://i300.photobucket.com/albums/nn38/microtonaldave/download_zpsfe331f64.jpg)

http://www.amazon.com/Music-Downtown-Writings-Village-Voice/dp/0520229827/ref=la_B001HD43N4_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1394721020&sr=1-4 (http://www.amazon.com/Music-Downtown-Writings-Village-Voice/dp/0520229827/ref=la_B001HD43N4_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1394721020&sr=1-4)
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: 7/4 on March 13, 2014, 06:37:08 AM
Kyle Gann - American Music in the Twentieth Century

(http://i300.photobucket.com/albums/nn38/microtonaldave/002864655X_zps9d689ded.jpg)

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 (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)
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: torut on March 13, 2014, 10:33:16 PM
Thank you all for your suggestions. I summarized books mentioned so far, including that are not only recommended but also unread by anyone or yet published, but excluding that about individual composers, with rough coverage. Forgive me for any mistakes, I tried to get information from web sites for those books I don't have.

Music in the Early Twentieth Century: The Oxford History of Western Music by Richard Taruskin
Music in the Late Twentieth Century: The Oxford History of Western Music by Richard Taruskin
A Concise History of Modern Music by Paul Griffiths : Debussy ~ Boulez (1978)
The Rest Is Noise by Alex Ross : Mahler ~ Bjork (?)
Music in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries by Joseph Auner : Mahler ~ Chen Yi (?)
The Companion To 20th-century Music by Norman Lebrecht : 1900 ~ 1996
New Music at Darmstadt: Nono, Stockhausen, Cage, and Boulez (Music Since 1900) by Dr Martin Iddon
The Music of William Schuman, Vincent Persichetti, and Peter Mennin: Voices of Stone and Steel by Walter Simmons
The New Music: The Avant-garde since 1945 by Reginald Smith Brindle : 1945 ~ 1986
Modern Music - The avant garde since 1945 by Paul Griffiths : 1945 ~ 1981
Modern Music and After by Paul Griffiths : 1945 ~ 21th Century (Lachenman, Sciarrino, )
Experimental Music by Michael Nyman : 1950 ~ 1970, Cage, Cardew, Boulez, Berio, Stockhausen
American Music in the Twentieth Century by Kyle Gann : Ives ~ 1990s
The New York Schools of Music and the Visual Arts by Steven Johnson : 1st half of 20th Century (Cage, Feldman, Brown, Tudor)
This Life of Sounds: Evenings for New Music in Buffalo by Renee Levine Packer : 1964 ~ 1980, new music in America
Music Downtown: Writings from the Village Voice by Kyle Gann : 1980 ~ 1990s, Music in NYC
Electronic & Computer Music by Peter Manning : 1945 ~ present
"a history of modern composition since 1989" by Tim Rutherford-Johnson (not published) : 1989 ~ present?

[EDIT] Corrected mistakes; Added Taruskin books.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: North Star on March 13, 2014, 11:28:13 PM
Thank you all for your suggestions. I summarized books mentioned so far, including that are not only recommended but also unread by anyone or yet published, but excluding that about individual composers, with rough coverage. Forgive me for any mistakes, I tried to get information from web sites for those books I don't have.

The Rest Is Noise by Alex Ross : Mahler ~ Bjork (?)

Björk is discussed rather briefly (not nearly as briefly as Wuorinen, though...)
Sibelius and Britten get their own chapters. Strauss is discussed in some length, too.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on March 14, 2014, 05:18:27 AM
Sibelius and Britten get their own chapters. Strauss is discussed in some length, too.

Those chapters are Ross at his best.

There's also a chapter on Shostakovich, which I find verges on tabloid musicology quite uncomfortably.  Worth a read, all the same, but . . . I cringe a little, just remembering . . . .
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: North Star on March 14, 2014, 06:10:22 AM
Those chapters are Ross at his best.

There's also a chapter on Shostakovich, which I find verges on tabloid musicology quite uncomfortably.  Worth a read, all the same, but . . . I cringe a little, just remembering . . . .
Sergei Prokofiev is in the same chapter too of course, but yes, not the best part of the book.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: torut on March 14, 2014, 06:28:30 AM
I read Solomon Volkov's Testimony: The Memoirs of Dmitri Shostakovich, whose credibility is questioned. Is there a general consensus about it? If it is unreliable or inaccurate, is there a good book about Shostakovich and Russian composers related to him (such as Glaznov, Prokofief, Weinberg, etc.)?
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: North Star on March 14, 2014, 06:39:55 AM
I read Solomon Volkov's Testimony: The Memoirs of Dmitri Shostakovich, whose credibility is questioned. Is there a general consensus about it? If it is unreliable or inaccurate, is there a good book about Shostakovich and Russian composers related to him (such as Glaznov, Prokofief, Weinberg, etc.)?
Here (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php?topic=164.720) is some discussion of Testimony.

Quote from: karlhenning at http://www.good-music-guide.com/forum/index.php?topic=702.115

The Volkov is problematic;  it isn't "pure fiction" (for one thing, Maksim Dmitriyevich vouched for its general truth).  ..... but it is covered by some serious clouds.

really - the Volkov has been supported by many musicians with whom Shostakovich worked - ie - they assert that he said similar or identical things to them - but still it remains in question...

there were those who've tried to completely discredit Volkov, but it seems that isn't right either...
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: San Antone on March 14, 2014, 07:23:39 AM
Personal note vis a vis this thread, not that my preferences are noteworthy, but I have some interest whether there is a crude division as to what different people look for in these kinds of books.

For myself, I am far more interested in books that offer musical analysis as opposed to primarily biographical information.  While the biographical context can offer some insights into the music, I generally prefer to focus almost exclusively on the music and how it is put together rather than the composer's life.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on March 14, 2014, 07:41:12 AM
I read Solomon Volkov's Testimony: The Memoirs of Dmitri Shostakovich, whose credibility is questioned. Is there a general consensus about it? If it is unreliable or inaccurate, is there a good book about Shostakovich and Russian composers related to him (such as Glaznov, Prokofief, Weinberg, etc.)?

Here (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php?topic=164.720) is some discussion of Testimony.




And, courtesy of Jens (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,164.msg628624.html#msg628624):

Quote from: Irina Antonovna
Volkov and 'Testimony'

During interviews, I am often asked about the veracity of the book "Testimony" by Solomon Volkov, published as Shostakovich's memoirs. Here is what I think.

Mr. Volkov worked for Sovetskaya Muzyka magazine, where Shostakovich was a member of the editorial board. As a favor to Boris Tishchenko, his pupil and colleague, Shostakovich agreed to be interviewed by Mr. Volkov, whom he knew little about, for an article to be published in Sovetskaya Muzyka. There were three interviews; each lasted two to two and a half hours, no longer, since Shostakovich grew tired of extensive chat and lost interest in the conversation. Two of the interviews were held in the presence of Mr. Tishchenko. The interviews were not taped.

Mr. Volkov arrived at the second interview with a camera (Mr. Volkov's wife, a professional photographer, always took pictures of Mr. Volkov with anyone who might become useful in the future) and asked Mr. Tishchenko and me to take pictures "as a keepsake." He brought a photograph to the third interview and asked Shostakovich to sign it. Shostakovich wrote his usual words: "To dear Solomon Maseyevich Volkov, in fond remembrance. D. Shostakovich 13.XI.1974." Then, as if sensing something amiss, he asked for the photograph back and, according to Mr. Volkov himself, added: "In memory of our talks on Glazunov, Zoshchenko and Meyerhold. D. Sh."

That was a list of the topics covered during the interviews. It shows that the conversation was about musical and literary life in prewar Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) and nothing more. Some time later, Mr. Volkov brought Shostakovich a typed version of their conversations and asked him to sign every page at the bottom. It was a thin sheaf of papers, and Shostakovich, presuming he was going to see the proof sheets, did not read them. I came into Shostakovich's study as he was standing at his desk signing those pages without reading them. Mr. Volkov took the pages and left.

I asked Shostakovich why he had been signing every page, as it seemed unusual. He replied that Mr. Volkov had told him about some new censorship rules according to which his material would not be accepted by the publishers without a signature. I later learned that Mr. Volkov had already applied for an exit visa to leave the country and was planning to use that material as soon as he was abroad.

Soon after that, Shostakovich died, and Mr. Volkov put his plans into further action.

Mr. Volkov had told a lot of people about those pages, boasting his journalist's luck. This threatened to complicate his exit. It seems that he managed to contrive an audience with Enrico Berlinguer, secretary of the Italian Communist Party, who happened to be visiting Moscow, showed him the photograph signed by Shostakovich and complained that he, Mr. Volkov, a friend of Shostakovich's, was not allowed to leave the country for political reasons. In any case, an article about Mr. Volkov and the same photograph appeared in the Italian Communist newspaper La Stampa. Apparently, it did the trick.

I met Mr. Volkov at a concert and asked him to come and see me (but without his wife, as he had wanted) and leave me a copy of the material he had, which was unauthorized (since it had never been read by Shostakovich). Mr. Volkov replied that the material had already been sent abroad, and if Mr. Volkov was not allowed to leave, the material would be published with additions. He soon left the country, and I never saw him again.

Later on, I read in a booklet that came with the phonograph record of the opera "Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District" conducted by Mstislav Rostropovich, which was released abroad, that Mr. Volkov was Shostakovich's assistant with whom he had written his memoirs. Elsewhere I read that when Shostakovich was at home alone, he would phone Mr. Volkov and they would see each other in secret.

Only someone with rich fantasy could invent something like that; it was not true, if only because at that time Shostakovich was very ill and was never left on his own. And we lived outside Moscow at the dacha. There was no opportunity for secret meetings. Mr. Volkov's name is nowhere to be found in Shostakovich's correspondence of the time, in his letters to Isaak Glikman, for example.

Mr. Volkov found a publisher in the United States, and the advertising campaign began. Extracts from the book appeared in a German magazine and reached Russia, where at that time there was state monopoly on intellectual property. VAAP, the Soviet copyright agency, asked for verification of Shostakovich's signature. American experts confirmed its authenticity. The book was published. Each chapter of the book was preceded by words written in Shostakovich's hand: "Have read. Shostakovich."

I can vouch that this was how Shostakovich signed articles by different authors planned for publication. Such material was regularly delivered to him from Sovetskaya Muzyka magazine for review, then the material was returned to the editorial department, where Mr. Volkov was employed. Unfortunately, the American experts, who did not speak Russian, were unable and certainly had no need to correlate Shostakovich's words with the contents of the text.

As for the additions, Mr. Volkov himself told me that he had spoken to a lot of different people about Shostakovich, in particular to Lev Lebedinsky, who later became an inaccurate memoirist and with whom Shostakovich had ended all relations a long time before. A friend of Shostakovich's, Leo Arnshtam, a cinema director, saw Mr. Volkov on his request, and Arnshtam later regretted it. A story about a telephone conversation with Stalin was written from his words. All this was included in the book as though it were coming from Shostakovich himself.

The book was translated into many languages and published in a number of countries, except Russia. Mr. Volkov at first claimed that the American publishers were against the Russian edition, then that the royalties in Russia were not high enough, then that those offering to publish it in Russia were crooks and, finally, that he had sold his manuscript to a private archive and it was not available anymore. Retranslation into Russian relieves the author of responsibility and permits new liberties.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: torut on March 14, 2014, 07:55:49 AM
Thank you for the link. It seems that the book is not a complete fabrication, but it is unlikely that everything was Shostakovich's testimony. Probably the author falsely attributed some of the episodes he gathered or some of his own thoughts to Shostakovich...?
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on March 14, 2014, 07:59:47 AM
"Unpacking" it for truth, is probably like trying to nail Jell-O to the wall . . . .
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: torut on March 14, 2014, 08:13:55 AM
Personal note vis a vis this thread, not that my preferences are noteworthy, but I have some interest whether there is a crude division as to what different people look for in these kinds of books.

For myself, I am far more interested in books that offer musical analysis as opposed to primarily biographical information.  While the biographical context can offer some insights into the music, I generally prefer to focus almost exclusively on the music and how it is put together rather than the composer's life.
I am interested in both. I am not a composer, but I like to know (certain degree of) technical background of each musical work. Also, I like to know social circumstances, personal/apprentice relationship, composers' saying, etc. as long as they are facts and relevant to music. I don't like some authors who tell too much about spirituality of music, composers' greatness, how important a work is to the human race, etc. I prefer "dry" writings.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: EigenUser on March 14, 2014, 08:31:58 AM
Poor Ravel only gets a paragraph :'(! . All of that precise "swiss-watchmaking" for a measly paragraph. And Bartok doesn't fare much better  ??? ! Schoenberg gets way too much attention, though he is clearly extremely important in 20th-century music history.

I was hoping for more stuff on Ligeti, Messiaen, and Stockhausen. Stockhausen is an interesting case for me -- I love learning about him and his music, but I also positively dislike his music (he creates some neat sounds, but I don't connect musically with it at all).
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: North Star on March 14, 2014, 08:48:46 AM
The Rest Is Noise is indeed far from perfect, but the competition doesn't seem to be too stiff.  :-\
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: EigenUser on March 14, 2014, 08:51:04 AM
The Rest Is Noise is indeed far from perfect, but the competition doesn't seem to be too stiff.  :-\

I definitely enjoyed it overall. I just read so many amazing things about it beforehand. As I said earlier, my hopes were so high that nothing Ross wrote would have satisfied them.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on March 14, 2014, 09:01:28 AM
The Rest Is Noise is indeed far from perfect, but the competition doesn't seem to be too stiff.  :-\

A sound analysis :)

I definitely enjoyed it overall. I just read so many amazing things about it beforehand. As I said earlier, my hopes were so high that nothing Ross wrote would have satisfied them.

Even as the reviews — the many, many reviews — the uniformly effusive, perhaps a tad too-excessively enthusiastic reviews — kept rolling in back when the book was first released, I did feel a little sorry for Ross, as it seemed to me praise far too high for any book written by a mere mortal to live up to.  (But only a little sorry, as it seemed, too, that he would be set for fame and revenue for some considerable time.)

;)
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: petrarch on March 14, 2014, 06:10:41 PM
For myself, I am far more interested in books that offer musical analysis as opposed to primarily biographical information.  While the biographical context can offer some insights into the music, I generally prefer to focus almost exclusively on the music and how it is put together rather than the composer's life.

Same here, though I have come to appreciate more and more how the biographical or other more personal aspects of the composer can form a more complete picture beyond just the music. It helps establish a sense of continuity through a composer's output and helps better understand the thinking behind the works and how it evolved.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: petrarch on March 14, 2014, 06:26:25 PM
Electronic & Computer Music by Peter Manning : 1990s ~ present

This book covers primarily 1945-present, with its first chapter establishing the context with the beginnings of electric sound in the early 1900s.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: torut on March 14, 2014, 11:14:18 PM
This book covers primarily 1945-present, with its first chapter establishing the context with the beginnings of electric sound in the early 1900s.
Thank you for pointing it out. I corrected the mistake. This book looks interesting.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: torut on March 15, 2014, 01:35:35 PM
and a summary of books about individual composers mentioned here. (I also added Taruskin books in the other post.)

Stockhausen: Other Planets: The Music of Karlheinz Stockhausen by Robin Maconie (2005)
Ligeti: György Ligeti: Music of the Imagination by Richard Steinitz (2003)
Feldman: Give My Regards to Eight Street: Collected Writings of Morton Feldman edited by B.H. Friedman (2004)
Wolff: Christian Wolff by Michael Hicks and Chrisitan Asplund (2012)
Schoenberg: Schoenberg (Master Musicians Series) by Malcolm MacDonald (2008) 2nd edition
Schoenberg: Arnold Schoenberg's Journey by Allen Shawn (2002)
Stravinsky: Experiencing Stravinsky: A Listener's Companion by Robin Maconie (2013)
Stravinsky: Stravinsky's Late Music by Joseph N. Straus (2004)
Stravinsky: Stravinsky: A Creative Spring: Russia and France, 1882-1934 by Stephen Walsh (2002)
Stravinsky: Stravinsky: The Second Exile: France and America, 1934-1971 by Stephen Walsh (2008)
Stravinsky: Stravinsky: The Composer and His Works by Eric Walter White (1985) 2nd edition
Bartók: My Father by Peter Bartók (2002) (OOP? available from Bartók Records & Publications)

I am interested in the Stockhausen book (I have Stockhausen on Music by the same author (1989) and this book seems to cover later years), Feldman and maybe will start with one of Stravinsky books. Thank you!

[EDIT] corrected mistakes.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: EigenUser on March 15, 2014, 02:09:24 PM
The Bartok isn't out of print -- it's just not quite as easy to find since it's published by Peter Bartok's own company "Bartok Records". I ordered it through the Bartok Records store on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/My-Father-Bk-Cloth-BARTOK/dp/0964196123/ref=aag_m_pw_dp?ie=UTF8&m=A3EF38FIHAT57M
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: torut on March 15, 2014, 02:26:36 PM
The Bartok isn't out of print -- it's just not quite as easy to find since it's published by Peter Bartok's own company "Bartok Records". I ordered it through the Bartok Records store on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/My-Father-Bk-Cloth-BARTOK/dp/0964196123/ref=aag_m_pw_dp?ie=UTF8&m=A3EF38FIHAT57M
Fixed it, thank you. This description looks interesting.
Quote
The origin of details of several works are described.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: torut on March 16, 2014, 12:07:49 PM
As per Octave's suggestion, I added a list of books mentioned here to the 1st post.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: Octave on March 16, 2014, 02:51:09 PM
One that moves into not-strictly-classical territory (as I guess does much other music in the period you're asking about) is this, probably essential if you are interested in not just ~traditional composition but also ~avant-garde jazz and the politics (active or passive) of separatism, not that this latter is the main occupation of the book. 


George Lewis: A POWER STRONGER THAN ITSELF - THE AACM AND AMERICAN EXPERIMENTAL MUSIC (2008)

Lewis was at UC San Diego for quite a while and is now at Columbia, and for years was teaching computers to improvise with humans.  Maybe still?  I have not kept up with his own music.  His faculty profile say he's an editor of "the forthcoming two-volume Oxford Handbook of Critical Improvisation Studies", which looks like it might finally be coming out this year.  Here's the co-editor's Academia.edu page with some other relevant tidbits (Henry Flynt, Henry Cow, experimental music etc):
https://cornell.academia.edu/BenjaminPiekut (https://cornell.academia.edu/BenjaminPiekut)

I am also curious if anyone knows this book, whose author is iic more from an art-history background:

(https://mitpress.mit.edu/covers/9781890951870.jpg)
Branden W. Joseph: BEYOND THE DREAM SYNDICATE - TONY CONRAD AND THE ARTS AFTER CAGE (Zone/M.I.T.)

Also Douglas Kahn's writings, perhaps also much more geared toward the interface of visual/performance arts and sound-art.  I still have not checked out his co-edited volume (anthology, rather?) SOURCE: MUSIC OF THE AVANT-GARDE 1966-1973, but it's supposed to be a lovely physical artifact and time-capsule.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: San Antone on March 16, 2014, 03:10:03 PM
Those books look very interesting; thanks for posting them.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: Octave on March 16, 2014, 03:18:02 PM
David Grubbs, most famous as an erstwhile-Chicago postrock guy, did his PhD on/around Cage, and once said that all of his own academic research work was worth maybe one footnote in one paper by Branden Joseph; that was his way of complimenting Joseph's diligence and comprehensiveness.  What small bits of the book I looked at once made me think it might not be from a "conservatory" perspective, though. 
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: torut on March 16, 2014, 04:12:59 PM
I like avant garde jazz. Thank you for introducing these books. These are mainly about USA avant-garde scene? I am also interested in European avant-garde jazz / free improvisations and their relation with contemporary composers.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: Octave on March 17, 2014, 06:32:57 AM
I like avant garde jazz. Thank you for introducing these books. These are mainly about USA avant-garde scene? I am also interested in European avant-garde jazz / free improvisations and their relation with contemporary composers.

I don't know how much you like AMM and the musics that followed (that follow) in their wake, but their percussionist Eddie Prévost has a label, Matchless, who also publish books, mainly his own, under their "Copula" imprint.  They published John Tilbury's massive biography of Cornelius Cardew.  Here's the list of their books with descriptions/mail-order:
http://www.matchlessrecordings.com/books (http://www.matchlessrecordings.com/books)


(http://matchlessrecordings.com/site/files/images/cardew-cover.png)
John Tilbury: CORNELIUS CARDEW - A LIFE UNFINISHED

Tilbury is of course a well known interpreter of Morton Feldman's music.  (In fact, Matchless has released some DVD-audio discs of recent recordings of Feldman's music.) This biography and the CARDEW READER are the two books that seem most relevant to this thread.  Sorry to recommend books I have not yet read!  However, I have read two of Prévost's own books on improvisation and AMM as a laboratory for making improvisation a kind of composition, and I found them both interesting but very personal, if that is the word.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: San Antone on March 17, 2014, 07:19:23 AM
Cardew is an important voice from the 20th century, IMO, almost on the level of John Cage.  However, I became less and less  interested in his work to the extent that he became more and more obsessed with using his work to articulated political philosophy (which was quite the opposite for Cage, whose only political message, if he had one, was an anarchic approach to freedom of the individual. This was the source of their falling out, mainly from Cardew's perspective, since Cage did not intentionally fall out with anyone). 

Still, one can hardly imagine experimental music, especially in UK, being what is has been without the influence of Cardew.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: torut on March 17, 2014, 07:07:49 PM
I only have a recent AMM CD (Sounding Music, 2010, with Prevost, Tilbury, Butcher, Wolff and Kangiesser.) It is a strangely sounding music.
I have not heard Cardew's music yet. Thanks for the info of the books. (It is a huge volume: 1104 pages!) I just started reading Nyman's Experimental Music, and saw descriptions of Cardew & AMM, together with Cage, Wolff, Feldman, etc.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: ritter on April 23, 2014, 12:19:49 AM
I received this book yesterday from amazon.fr:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/514KK2B9HBL._.jpg)

I'm ususally not that keen on collected letters, but must admit this is a very pleasant read. Schaeffner was a distinguished ethnomusicologist and aestheticist, friendly with (among others) Stravinsky.

To read the young Boulez seeking advice from Schaeffner (30 years his senior), discussing extra-European instruments, tyring to get hold of tam-tams and gongs from the music department of the Torcadéro Museum (directed by Schaeffner) for performances of Le Marteau, and so on, is rather fun.

Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: torut on April 24, 2014, 11:20:19 AM
I received this book yesterday from amazon.fr:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/514KK2B9HBL._.jpg)

I'm ususally not that keen on collected letters, but must admit this is a very pleasant read. Schaeffner was a distinguished ethnomusicologist and aestheticist, friendly with (among others) Stravinsky.

To read the young Boulez seeking advice from Schaeffner (30 years his senior), discussing extra-European instruments, tyring to get hold of tam-tams and gongs from the music department of the Torcadéro Museum (directed by Schaeffner) for performances of Le Marteau, and so on, is rather fun.

Thank you for introducing the book. (Although I cannot read French. ;D) I read about letters exchanged between Boulez and Cage. At the beginning, they respected each other and showed great interest in the ideas of the other, but eventually they realized that what they were thinking were completely different.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on April 25, 2014, 04:32:22 AM
Thank you for introducing the book. (Although I cannot read French. ;D) I read about letters exchanged between Boulez and Cage. At the beginning, they respected each other and showed great interest in the ideas of the other, but eventually they realized that what they were thinking were completely different.

That is true;  although I do not see why thinking differently about music should be any obstacle to mutual respect.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: ritter on April 25, 2014, 05:06:19 AM
That is true;  although I do not see why thinking differently about music should be any obstacle to mutual respect.
That Boulez-Cage correspondence is something I must seek out...

But you guys have me intrigued: does it end with Pierre and John calling each other names and referring to the other's mother in impolite ways?  :D
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: torut on April 25, 2014, 05:25:39 AM
That Boulez-Cage correspondence is something I must seek out...

But you guys have me intrigued: does it end with Pierre and John calling each other names and referring to the other's mother in impolite ways?  :D
Boulez called Cage a 'performing monkey’ after the breakdown. I don't know exactly how Cage called Boulez, something like the face of an animal waiting for slaughter...?
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: EigenUser on April 25, 2014, 05:29:59 AM
That Boulez-Cage correspondence is something I must seek out...

But you guys have me intrigued: does it end with Pierre and John calling each other names and referring to the other's mother in impolite ways?  :D
I saw an interview with Boulez where he spoke very highly of John Cage. I just found it again:
http://www.youtube.com/v/qKbPgUTgZXM
Of course, Boulez's first words in the video contain his characteristic arrogance presented in such a friendly, charming way. "I knew the American people long before anybody else." This man loves to be first in everything.  :laugh:
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: petrarch on April 25, 2014, 05:44:01 AM
That Boulez-Cage correspondence is something I must seek out...

But you guys have me intrigued: does it end with Pierre and John calling each other names and referring to the other's mother in impolite ways?  :D

Not at all. The letters in Nattiez's book cover 1949-1962 (admittedly too early to be an indicator of how their friendship would develop in later years) and all are very amicable and enthusiastic throughout.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: ritter on April 25, 2014, 06:50:45 AM
Not at all. The letters in Nattiez's book cover 1949-1962 (admittedly too early to be an indicator of how their friendship would develop in later years) and all are very amicable and enthusiastic throughout.
Cool, petrarch! Do you know what language they corresponded in? Boulez's English in the late 40s and early 50s must have been quite limited, and I don't know what Cage's command of French was. I ask because Nattiez's book  was originally published in 1991 in French (now very difficult to find), and the later English version (easily available) mentions a translator... .

Boulez often has this arrogant albeit very charming and polite style pointed out by EigenUser   ;). I remember this on Stockhausen (whom I once read Boulez refer to as his only "peer")--the underlining is mine--:

Q: Do you feel that your life has been too much about revolution?
PB: Not enough.
Q: Not enough? Really?
PB: Really. I think, for instance, that Stockhausen was more inventive than me.
Q: But surely things like the Helikopter-Streichquartett [in which four members of a string quartet play in independent helicopters and the music is relayed back to a hall, being performed in the skies over Salzburg, 2003 ...] were dead-end innovations?
PB: I said he was inventive. I didn't say he was critical of himself. You would have to organise an accident to make Stockhausen's Helikopter-Streichquartett interesting. One helicopter would have to fall down or something [laughs].


http://www.theartsdesk.com/classical-music/godfather-avant-garde-how-he-changed-music-forever?page=0,0

Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: San Antone on April 25, 2014, 07:01:45 AM
I believe John Cage spoke French rather well.  I doubt John Cage ever said anything really negative about other composers.  He seemed to have a rather bemused attitude about all the strange things said about him.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on April 25, 2014, 08:00:37 AM
I believe John Cage spoke French rather well.  I doubt John Cage ever said anything really negative about other composers.  He seemed to have a rather bemused attitude about all the strange things said about him.

My impression, as well.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: EigenUser on April 25, 2014, 09:26:55 AM
Cool, petrarch! Do you know what language they corresponded in? Boulez's English in the late 40s and early 50s must have been quite limited, and I don't know what Cage's command of French was. I ask because Nattiez's book  was originally published in 1991 in French (now very difficult to find), and the later English version (easily available) mentions a translator... .

Boulez often has this arrogant albeit very charming and polite style pointed out by EigenUser   ;). I remember this on Stockhausen (whom I once read Boulez refer to as his only "peer")--the underlining is mine--:

Q: Do you feel that your life has been too much about revolution?
PB: Not enough.
Q: Not enough? Really?
PB: Really. I think, for instance, that Stockhausen was more inventive than me.
Q: But surely things like the Helikopter-Streichquartett [in which four members of a string quartet play in independent helicopters and the music is relayed back to a hall, being performed in the skies over Salzburg, 2003 ...] were dead-end innovations?
PB: I said he was inventive. I didn't say he was critical of himself. You would have to organise an accident to make Stockhausen's Helikopter-Streichquartett interesting. One helicopter would have to fall down or something [laughs].


http://www.theartsdesk.com/classical-music/godfather-avant-garde-how-he-changed-music-forever?page=0,0
I wonder if he was alluding to (and poking fun at) Stockhausen's 9-11 comments.

Coincidentally, I'm listening to Boulez (Derive I) now...
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: ritter on April 25, 2014, 10:16:37 AM
I wonder if he was alluding to (and poking fun at) Stockhausen's 9-11 comments.....
Doubt that he would do that, not really his style (in my experience)

Quote
Coincidentally, I'm listening to Boulez (Derive I) now...
Are you enjoying Dérive I? I'm not that keen on this particular piece (can't really say why  :-[)...
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: Octave on April 25, 2014, 10:23:42 AM
I believe John Cage spoke French rather well.  I doubt John Cage ever said anything really negative about other composers.  He seemed to have a rather bemused attitude about all the strange things said about him.

My impression is that the bemusement could co-exist with and cushion some funny ambivalence, like his comment on Boulez's PIANO SONATA NO. 2 (iirc): "We trembled before the complexity of it."*  That is funny!
But there's no reason to take that as disparagement.

* Source has become obscure to me, I am quoting from memory; almost definitely one of the interviews excerpted in the Kostelanetz CONVERSING book, also probably a recollection from much later, after the falling out.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: EigenUser on April 25, 2014, 11:26:09 AM
Are you enjoying Dérive I? I'm not that keen on this particular piece (can't really say why  :-[)...
Yes, I love "Derive I". I'm not a big fan of Boulez as a composer because I dislike serialism and "Derive I" is the only piece so far that I've found to really enjoy -- perhaps because it reminds me a little bit of "Melodien" and it's very bubbly-sounding. I still have to try its sequel again (I didn't like it last time I heard it).
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: petrarch on April 25, 2014, 01:07:56 PM
I doubt John Cage ever said anything really negative about other composers.

Same here. There is an interesting and very funny tidbit, though, where Cage, Boulez and Tudor were traveling by car somewhere here in the States, on their way to some concert or lecture, with Tudor driving. Half way to their destination, their car ran out of gas. Cage got slightly annoyed because Boulez thought the occurrence was très inélégant :D.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: torut on April 25, 2014, 04:02:59 PM
Not at all. The letters in Nattiez's book cover 1949-1962 (admittedly too early to be an indicator of how their friendship would develop in later years) and all are very amicable and enthusiastic throughout.
Yes, the Boulez's negative comment was made around 1970.

I doubt John Cage ever said anything really negative about other composers.  He seemed to have a rather bemused attitude about all the strange things said about him.
It is not that Cage never criticized other composers (for example, History of Experimental Music in the United States published in 1959), but yes, I have not read anything he wrote that were aggressive, arrogant or insulting, even about who derided or mocked him. His responses were often humorous and admirable.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: torut on April 25, 2014, 04:20:47 PM
My impression is that the bemusement could co-exist and cushion some funny ambivalence, like his comment on Boulez's PIANO SONATA NO. 2 (iirc): "We trembled before the complexity of it."*  That is funny!
But there's no reason to take that as disparagement.

* Source has become obscure to me, I am quoting from memory; almost definitely one of the interviews excerpted in the Kostelanetz CONVERSING book, also probably a recollection from much later, after the falling out.
Was the comment made in a light joke fashion, maybe? Cage was so impressed by Boulez's Piano Sonata No. 2 that he made efforts to realize its premere concert in USA, suggested to a publisher publishing it, wrote a program note and performed turning over of sheets of the music when Tudor played it in 1950. Such things could be done only from sincere admiration, I think.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: Octave on April 25, 2014, 08:54:25 PM
Was the comment made in a light joke fashion, maybe? Cage was so impressed by Boulez's Piano Sonata No. 2 that he made efforts to realize its premere concert in USA, suggested to a publisher publishing it, wrote a program note and performed turning over of sheets of the music when Tudor played it in 1950. Such things could be done only from sincere admiration, I think.

I would need to source the 'complexity' comment to assign an attitude to it, but you are certainly correct about Cage's admiration (or at least his cunning, canniness) re: Boulez c. late 40s into the 50s.  I'm just amused by the piquancy that the comment takes if read as understatement.  (And I can relate to 'trembling' before SONATA II, even just recently!)  But if I remember the rough date of the comment correctly, Cage's serpentine wit might make it a bit more....'multi-purpose' than just undiluted admiration.

With all the discussion of the punk memories of GMGers, one notable (possible) exception to Cage's putative easygoing remove from the fray, would be his ostensible harsh (political!) dismissal of a Glenn Branca's Indeterminate Activity Of Resultant Masses.  (Of course, he frames it in such a way that 'dismissal' might not really be the right term; but it's a sharper set of comments than I am accustomed to hearing from him.)  I am sorry to be lazy, but I don't have time to search up the best references for these comments for the moment.  Maybe this ~18-min ~1982 conversation with Wim Mertens via Ubu:
is.gd/mqqPXR (http://is.gd/mqqPXR)  [mp3 link]
(I remember this recording being longer...sorry I cannot dig it up for the moment.)

Branca responded to this in a brief letter in MUSICWORKS ~1997, which I think was reproduced in the CD release of this piece.  Here is an image of his reponse, unfortunately not easy for me to read on this screen; it is the second text in this image:
http://i223.photobucket.com/albums/dd252/sleepbyrd/inside4.jpg (http://i223.photobucket.com/albums/dd252/sleepbyrd/inside4.jpg)
(EDIT: I see now that towards the end of the Branca letter, he generally references Cage's ~attacks in other sources, all of which I remember checking out years ago.  It seems certain that they'd all be fairly easy to access now, if one desired to find them.)

I am much less interested in the namecalling aspect of this flap, than in a kind of confrontation of not just generations (?) but sensibilities.  Cage's invocation of 'fascism' seems kind of unfortunate, but even if it's misplaced, it's not exactly ham-fisted or lacking in zeitgeist relevance....Slavoj Zizek makes some similar points about Rammstein in a film-essay that came out last year, though I think his point there is a kind of vindication of irony as an act of subversion or reclamation or something.

There is also Cage's withering view of jazz, though (as with Adorno?) there was more iirc to that view than a simpleminded dismissal.  I will need time to source those comments again, though at one point several years ago there was a quite long discussion of these observations on the SILENCE discussion listserv.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: torut on April 25, 2014, 09:46:21 PM
That image is difficult to read ... but thank you.
Just one reference regarding Jazz.
There is also Cage's withering view of jazz, though (as with Adorno?) there was more iirc to that view than a simpleminded dismissal.

John Cage - History of Experimental Music in the United States
Quote
Jazz per se derives from serious music. And when serious music derives  from it, the situation becomes rather silly.
This seems a little strange as Cage's comment. (I remember this because I just read the article recently.)
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: torut on April 25, 2014, 10:08:04 PM
The full text of Cage's Silence (containing History of ...) can be downloaded from here: http://archive.org/stream/silencelecturesw1961cage/silencelecturesw1961cage_djvu.txt
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: petrarch on April 26, 2014, 05:32:10 AM
Was the comment made in a light joke fashion, maybe? Cage was so impressed by Boulez's Piano Sonata No. 2 that he made efforts to realize its premere concert in USA, suggested to a publisher publishing it, wrote a program note and performed turning over of sheets of the music when Tudor played it in 1950. Such things could be done only from sincere admiration, I think.

From a letter from Cage to Boulez, December 18, 1950:

"[At] the concert [a David Tudor performance of the 2nd Sonata the day before] (as I was turning pages for him) I had feelings of an exaltation equal to that you introduced me to 4 rue Beautreillis [Boulez's address in Paris]. Naturally the audience was divided (for the various reasons audiences are), but I can tell you with joy that you have here a strong and devoted following. Your music gives to those who love it an arousing and breathtaking enlightenment. I am still always trembling afterwards. (...) It was a great joy to hear many times all 4 mvmts. of the Sonata (...) the entire work is marvelous but the 4th mvt among them is transcendent."

Also from the same letter:

"My French is too bad; forgive me if I continue in English"

Throughout the correspondence, Cage writes in a mix of French and English. I believe Boulez wrote all letters in French.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: petrarch on April 26, 2014, 05:59:01 AM
Boulez called Cage a 'performing monkey’ after the breakdown.

Here is the full quote, from comments to Claude Samuel in a France-Culture broadcast in 1970 (the quote is included in the Nattiez book):

"John Cage is responsible just as Satie is responsible. He had a beneficial influence to the extent that he helped to burst the fetters of 1950s discipline. He did it with ingenuity and naivety. There was much humor in his work, and this ingenuity in wanting to break down discipline by showing up its absurdity and academicism. But after that, he hardly had anything but imitations. Now, to imitate an act is to be just a performing monkey. No thought is involved, but only acts which repeat themselves. And it is tiresome to see what are practically always the same acts done again and again for twelve years."

I don't think the breakdown was anything more than diverging aesthetics and we are all familiar with Boulez's sharp tongue. Boulez conducted Cage's Apartment House 1776 with the NYPO in 1976 and later invited Cage to IRCAM in 1979 to perform Roaratorio. Not something you would do if you thought it was just a mindless repetitive act of a performing monkey.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: torut on April 26, 2014, 09:04:58 AM
Thank you for the sources, petrarch.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: ritter on April 27, 2014, 10:13:00 AM
Thank you for the sources, petrarch.
+1 ... very interesting read!  :)

Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: Artem on April 27, 2014, 02:09:58 PM
I have finished reading this book today. It's subject is very interesting, but it could have been written a little better, I think.

Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: petrarch on April 29, 2014, 04:03:11 PM
he was rightfully trashed by composers in my opinion.

::) So much so that all who dedicated pieces or movements to him rushed to disown those works, and never wasted an opportunity to trash him, especially on camera.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: EigenUser on April 29, 2014, 04:12:05 PM
Cage always seemed rather vapid & empty-headed to me .. just like the stuff he put out there. He talked a lot but his composing just doesn't add up to much .. he was rightfully trashed by composers in my opinion.
Meh... I don't think he was rightfully trashed. I like his ideas on music, but not his music. I think of him as a musical philosopher more than a composer. Based on what I've heard from him (unless I'm totally misunderstanding him), it seems like he'd almost agree.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: San Antone on April 29, 2014, 04:17:49 PM
Wonderful book on John Cage. It is a great complement to James Pritchett's.



My copy arrived last week and I've read about the first 100 pp.  Excellent book. 
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: torut on April 29, 2014, 05:04:14 PM
Meh... I don't think he was rightfully trashed. I like his ideas on music, but not his music. I think of him as a musical philosopher more than a composer. Based on what I've heard from him (unless I'm totally misunderstanding him), it seems like he'd almost agree.
I used to feel the same way. The books and articles about/by him were fun to read and interesting, but I didn't understand what are the merits of his music. But recently I heard many compositions by Cage from different periods, and now I appreciate & enjoy his music. I guess that one of the problems is that his writings were too good: his critics were occupied by his words too much. You should try to forget what he said (about "philosophy" or the methods) and listen to the music itself.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: torut on April 29, 2014, 05:09:40 PM
Cage always seemed rather vapid & empty-headed to me .. just like the stuff he put out there. He talked a lot but his composing just doesn't add up to much .. he was rightfully trashed by composers in my opinion.
Which composers trashed him?
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: North Star on April 29, 2014, 11:40:06 PM
Which composers trashed him?
Daniel Asia.  ::)
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on April 30, 2014, 04:13:36 AM
Cage always seemed rather vapid & empty-headed to me [...]

Thanks for conceding that the failing is your own.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: torut on April 30, 2014, 08:54:06 PM
Daniel Asia.  ::)
I read the huffingtonpost article. :) It is full of hyperbolic words trying to pretend that his personal preference is an eternal truth. It is interesting to see the old cliché:
Quote
In a few years time, Cage will be a small footnote to all of this, remembered if at all, for his self-advertising, whimsy and smile, and love of mushrooms. But for his music, not a chance.
... while Sonatas and Interludes survived for over 65 years and new recordings keep being released. I just checked Amazon and found this. (to be released on May 13.) Is this a new release or a reissue?

Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on May 01, 2014, 03:20:11 AM
I read the huffingtonpost article. :) It is full of hyperbolic words trying to pretend that his personal preference is an eternal truth.

Yes, no matter the rolling years, there seems always to be someone naïve enough to parade his opinion as Universal Artistic Axiom.  And here on GMG, the amusement of reading someone (with whose blinders that opinion neatly aligns) posting, Yes! It's the Truth! Hallelujah!  ;)
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: Artem on May 01, 2014, 05:58:56 PM
This page and previous one could fit well with the Cage thread in the composers section, I think.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: zamyrabyrd on June 06, 2014, 02:43:13 AM
These three books on Debussy seemed interesting and companionable so I got myself a triple present: "Images, The Piano Music of Claude Debussy", "Claude Debussy" by Paul Roberts and "Debussy in Proportion" by Roy Howat. The first I discovered on a youtube masterclass.

ZB
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on June 06, 2014, 03:46:38 AM
These three books on Debussy seemed interesting and companionable so I got myself a triple present: "Images, The Piano Music of Claude Debussy", "Claude Debussy" by Paul Roberts and "Debussy in Proportion" by Roy Howat. The first I discovered on a youtube masterclass.

ZB

Mm, most interesting, thanks.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: ritter on June 13, 2014, 05:31:07 AM
Not at all. The letters in Nattiez's book cover 1949-1962 (admittedly too early to be an indicator of how their friendship would develop in later years) and all are very amicable and enthusiastic throughout.
After having talked about the Boulez-Cage correspondence a couple of months ago, and much to my surprise, a French on-line seller of scores and music books was offering the original French edition at a decent price:

(http://www.schott-music.co.uk/shop/resources/w150px/543412.jpg)
I ordered it, and got confirmation it had been shipped just a couple of hours later. Looking froward to receiving it soon... :)

Added this other book (unknown to me up to now) to my order:

(http://www.laflutedepan.net/couv55/G555002659.jpg)
Pierre Boulez in conversation with François Meïmoun on the music and literature that influenced him early on in his career....
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: petrarch on June 20, 2014, 02:39:08 AM
Added this other book (unknown to me up to now) to my order:

(http://www.laflutedepan.net/couv55/G555002659.jpg)
Pierre Boulez in conversation with François Meïmoun on the music and literature that influenced him early on in his career....

Looks quite interesting, thanks.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: torut on June 22, 2014, 11:19:03 AM
Thanks to all for introducing those interesting books. I updated the OP. I just read Par volonté et par hasard (1975), interviews with Boulez by Célestin Deliège (translation). The book was published a long time ago but it was a very good read. He talked about his compositions (Sonatine for flute and piano ~ ...Explosante-Fixe...); composers (Schoenberg, Berg, Webern, Stravinsky, Berlioz, Debussy); chance operation, improvisation; poets (Mallarmé, Char, Cummings); conducting, etc.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: ritter on June 23, 2014, 11:22:44 AM
petrarch, torut...I've now read the Meïmoun book of conversations with Boulez (it's less than 100 pages long), and yes, it is interesting. It deals with a very specific period in the composer's development (roughly from his arrival in Paris in 1943 through the early years of his involvement with the Renaud-Barrault troupe). In a nutshell, one could say, it describes the progress of Boulez from being exposed to modernity--embodied by Honegger in the last years of occupied Paris--to being involved with the avantarde--in the late forties.

We can read about his well-known dislike for Leibowitz, about Messiaen, etc., but also about less known stuff such as an early admiration for some Jolivet works (the Danses rituelles and Mana), his--not very positive--views on Sartre, his early literary tastes (as a teeneager, he had set a Théophile Gautier poem to music), etc. All in all, a pleasant but by no means "indispensable" read.

As for the Boulez-Cage correspondence, I haven't read it yet, but this does seem a "definitive" edition, an expanded and revised reprint of Nattiez's early 90s edition, and is profusely illustrated. It's a Schott - Paul Sacher Foundation release from 2001, and the letters are presented in the original languages they were written in: French for the most (with Cage quite competent in the language), English (with Boulez's rather tentative at this time) or a mixture of both. I'm surprised this publication is not more widely available.

torut, I've ordered the Deliège book (used)...thanks for the tip!  ;)

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/61CXICUX56L.jpg)

And finally, to add yet another book to these pages, this will reach me this week from Italy:

(http://www.einaudi.it/media/img/978880615059GRA.jpg)

This is a reprint of Massimo Mila's mid-80's study of Maderna. Mila was probably, along with Fedele d'Amico, the most distinguished music critic in Italy in the second half of the 20th century. From the reviews I've seen, Mila's book is regarded (in Italy, at least) as the standard bibliographic contribution to Maderna...





Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: torut on June 23, 2014, 10:32:04 PM
petrarch, torut...I've now read the Meïmoun book of conversations with Boulez (it's less than 100 pages long), and yes, it is interesting. It deals with a very specific period in the composer's development (roughly from his arrival in Paris in 1943 through the early years of his involvement with the Renaud-Barrault troupe). In a nutshell, one could say, it describes the progress of Boulez from being exposed to modernity--embodied by Honegger in the last years of occupied Paris--to being involved with the avantarde--in the late forties.

We can read about his well-known dislike for Leibowitz, about Messiaen, etc., but also about less known stuff such as an early admiration for some Jolivet works (the Danses rituelles and Mana), his--not very positive--views on Sartre, his early literary tastes (as a teeneager, he had set a Théophile Gautier poem to music), etc. All in all, a pleasant but by no means "indispensable" read.
Was the interview by Meïmoun done around 2010? I am curious how Boulez's thoughts on various things have been changed since 1975. He had really strong, sometimes harsh, opinions. I guess there have not been much changes ...
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: ritter on June 24, 2014, 01:25:44 AM
Yep...the book is from 2010...the curious thing about it is that Boulez is talking about his experiences from more than 60 years earlier...The opinions are strong, but the tone is very polite and correct... ;)
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: torut on June 24, 2014, 07:07:13 PM
Yep...the book is from 2010...the curious thing about it is that Boulez is talking about his experiences from more than 60 years earlier...The opinions are strong, but the tone is very polite and correct... ;)
Thank you. Although I have reservations about some of his assertions, his thoughts are interesting and worthwhile nevertheless.

Not related to Boulez, this book mentioned in Myaskovsky thread looks nice. (Thanks to vandermolen & J.)

Nikolay Myaskovsky: The Conscience of Russian Music by Gregor Tassie

Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: vandermolen on July 30, 2014, 09:46:55 PM
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.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: torut 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.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: vandermolen 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.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: torut on October 06, 2014, 09:44:41 PM
Kyle Gann - American Music in the Twentieth Century

(http://i300.photobucket.com/albums/nn38/microtonaldave/002864655X_zps9d689ded.jpg)

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 (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.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: Mirror Image 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.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: EigenUser 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!).
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: Mirror Image 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
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: EigenUser 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).
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: Artem 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.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: San Antone on February 07, 2015, 06:41:50 PM
Good news.  I bought the Kindle version when I saw the price.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: torut 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

Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: Artem 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
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: Artem on June 02, 2015, 05:13:59 PM
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51x6lMnJ8ML.jpg)
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.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: Ken B 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.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng 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.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: Mr Bloom 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).
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: EigenUser 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...
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: San Antone 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.

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/414K1BYYYYL.jpg)

 :)
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: EigenUser 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.

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/414K1BYYYYL.jpg)

 :)
I love this recording. I haven't heard enough to compare, but the one with the Vienna Philharmonic is also good (also on Spotify).
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: Wieland 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.

Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: vandermolen 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.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: Scion7 on September 26, 2015, 12:06:30 PM
This is a decent book on Bartok:

(http://s24.postimg.org/ebhoznxcl/Bartok.jpg)

First edition by Kenneth Chalmers - has a different cover now.

Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: vandermolen on September 26, 2015, 10:47:05 PM
This is a decent book on Bartok:

(http://s24.postimg.org/ebhoznxcl/Bartok.jpg)

First edition by Kenneth Chalmers - has a different cover now.
That was a very good series - I have the one on Korngold.
I've recently enjoyed browsing through Ruth Leon's book on Gershwin ('Life and Times' series)
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: Wieland on September 27, 2015, 11:46:26 AM
I am currently reading this book about Witold Lutoslawski, probably the most important Polish composer of the 20th century. The book is well written, even if some of the more technical descriptions of his music are too theoretical for me as a lay person. So, I skip them. I acquired 8 Naxos CDs with essentially his whole orchestral output to follow his development also aurally. I like most of what I heard so far. Only his 2nd symphony I did not grasp, that sounds just boring to me, especially the first part.

Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: ritter on June 29, 2017, 11:28:57 AM
*bump*

Two books (recently purchased by me--long live AbeBooks and its Spanish equivalent Iberlibro!  :) ) about the music scene in the 1950s:

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/61fJQXistAL._SX356_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg)
Avec Stravinsky, ed. Pierre Souvtchinsky, Ed. du Rocher, Monaco, 1958.
This book is discussed in vol. 2 of Stephen Walsh's biography of Stravinsky. It includes texts by the composer himself, Robert Craft, Pierre Boulez and Karlheinz Stockhausen. Apparently, this Avec Stravinsky was meant to publicize Stravinsky's then recent embracing of serialism.

and

(https://pmcdn.priceminister.com/photo/Cahiers-Renaud-Barrault-1032596147_L.jpg)
La musique et ses problèmes contemporains 1953-1963. Julliard, Paris, 1963 (Collection "Cahiers Renaud - Barrault"). N.B.: I haven't been able to locate a cover image on the web (the image above is of the 1953 cahier, essentially the first half of the book I found).

This publication unites the two numbers of the "Cahiers de la Compagnie Renaud - Barrault" decicated to the Domaine Musical, the first one from 1953, and then a second one for the 10th anniversary of that concert series. Texts by Barrault, composers like Boulez (of course), Barraqué, Kagel, Berio, Stockhausen et al., poets Char and Michaux, and assorted figures like Heinrich Strobel, André Schaeffner, Souvtchinky, Boris de Schloezer and Adorno.
Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: torut on April 29, 2018, 10:31:45 AM
Also, there's very little writing on contemporary music to be found. For that you may want to wait for Tim Rutherford-Johnson's book (http://johnsonsrambler.wordpress.com/2013/10/24/ok-this-awesome-i-really-am-writing-a-book/) which I'm hopeful for at least.

Rutherford-Johnson's book was published last year. Looks very interesting. The book was praised by Ross, Griffiths, and Lim.

Music after the Fall: Modern Composition and Culture since 1989 by Tim Rutherford-Johnson

Title: Re: Books about 20th/21st Century Composers
Post by: RebLem on August 03, 2018, 09:35:34 PM
I read Solomon Volkov's Testimony: The Memoirs of Dmitri Shostakovich, whose credibility is questioned. Is there a general consensus about it? If it is unreliable or inaccurate, is there a good book about Shostakovich and Russian composers related to him (such as Glaznov, Prokofief, Weinberg, etc.)?

The pre-eminent work you must get is MUSIC AND MUSICAL LIFE IN SOVIET RUSSIA, 1917-1981 by Boris Schwarz.