Books about 20th/21st Century Composers

Started by torut, March 08, 2014, 11:05:54 AM

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This is a decent book on Bartok:

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

When, a few months before his death, Rachmaninov lamented that he no longer had the "strength and fire" to compose, friends reminded him of the Symphonic Dances, so charged with fire and strength. "Yes," he admitted. "I don't know how that happened. That was probably my last flicker."


Quote from: Scion7 on September 26, 2015, 01:06:30 PM
This is a decent book on Bartok:

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)
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

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


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.[asin]B007SOG866[/asin]



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

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.


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.


Quote from: amw on March 08, 2014, 06:26:03 PMAlso, there's very little writing on contemporary music to be found. For that you may want to wait for Tim Rutherford-Johnson's 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


Quote from: 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.)?

The pre-eminent work you must get is MUSIC AND MUSICAL LIFE IN SOVIET RUSSIA, 1917-1981 by Boris Schwarz.
"Don't drink and drive; you might spill it."--J. Eugene Baker, aka my late father.



I just got a copy of this book of interviews that Philippe Albéra had in 1995 with pianist Claude Helffer:

Helffer was IMHO a very accomplished pianist (he studied with Robert Casadesus), and made some admirable recordings. The interest here is that he was very involved in the post-WWII new music scene in France (Boulez' Domanine Musical, etc.) and had close ties with many composers (particularly Xenakis). I'm only about 20 pages into the book, but the tone is unassuming and honest, and this promises to be a great read.