Music, the Arts, and Ideas: Patterns and Predictions in Twentieth-Century Culture

University of Chicago Press
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Meyer makes a valuable statement on aesthetics, criteria for assessing great works of music, compositional practices and theories of the present day, and predictions of the future of Western culture. His postlude, written for the book's twenty-fifth anniversary, looks back at his thoughts on the direction of music in 1967.
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About the author

Leonard B. Meyer is Benjamin Franklin Professor Emeritus of Music at the University of Pennsylvania.
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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Chicago Press
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Published on
Apr 15, 2010
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Pages
349
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ISBN
9780226521442
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Language
English
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Genres
Music / General
Music / History & Criticism
Music / Reference
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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One Hundred Years of Music provides a full account of the history of music from the death of Beethoven to the modern era. It covers a period of exceptional interest. The last hundred years coincide roughly with the rise and decline of Romanticism, include the various nationalist movements, and extend to the advent of "neo-classicism," the twelve-tone system, and still more modern techniques. Abraham devotes ample space to modernist and avant garde music, in which he explains the difficulties we experience in listening to the work of such composers as Schnberg, Bart k, and Berg. He also throws new light on many more familiar topics.In its earlier editions, One Hundred Years of Music became a standard work on this subject; it has since been brought updated to include coverage of later developments. Abraham approaches his subject as an historian of style rather than an esthetic critic. Rather than pass judgment on particular works or composers, he shows how music has developed, and thus provides a clear and connected history that is more substantial than most books of musical appreciation. An extensive chronology and a full bibliography and index add to the usefulness of the book for students, professionals and musical laymen alike.This third edition incorporates some corrections of fact, further enlarges the bibliography and chronology, and adds commentary on developments in music techniques. In order to correct the historical perspective, the author has included a "prelude" and three "interludes," giving rough sketches of general conditions in the musical world at intervals of thirty years. As the reader's sense of chronology is very apt to get confused when a number of simultaneous streams of development have to be described, the author has inserted the date of composition or performance (both if they are widely separated) of each work at the first mention of it.
The scandal over modern music has not died down. While paintings by Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollock sell for a hundred million dollars or more, shocking musical works from Stravinsky's Rite of Spring onward still send ripples of unease through audiences. At the same time, the influence of modern music can be felt everywhere. Avant-garde sounds populate the soundtracks of Hollywood thrillers. Minimalist music has had a huge effect on rock, pop, and dance music from the Velvet Underground onward. Alex Ross, the brilliant music critic for The New Yorker, shines a bright light on this secret world, and shows how it has pervaded every corner of twentieth century life.

The Rest Is Noise takes the reader inside the labyrinth of modern sound. It tells of maverick personalities who have resisted the cult of the classical past, struggled against the indifference of a wide public, and defied the will of dictators. Whether they have charmed audiences with the purest beauty or battered them with the purest noise, composers have always been exuberantly of the present, defying the stereotype of classical music as a dying art.

Ross, in this sweeping and dramatic narrative, takes us from Vienna before the First World War to Paris in the twenties, from Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Russia to downtown New York in the sixties and seventies. We follow the rise of mass culture and mass politics, of dramatic new technologies, of hot and cold wars, of experiments, revolutions, riots, and friendships forged and broken. In the tradition of Simon Schama's The Embarrassment of Riches and Louis Menand's The Metaphysical Club, the end result is not so much a history of twentieth-century music as a history of the twentieth century through its music.

Winner of the 2007 Otto Kinkeldey Award from the American Musicological Society and the 2007 Deems Taylor Award from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers.

Divas and Scholars is a dazzling and beguiling account of how opera comes to the stage, filled with Philip Gossett’s personal experiences of triumphant—and even failed—performances and suffused with his towering and tonic passion for music. Writing as a fan, a musician, and a scholar, Gossett, the world's leading authority on the performance of Italian opera, brings colorfully to life the problems, and occasionally the scandals, that attend the production of some of our most favorite operas.

Gossett begins by tracing the social history of nineteenth-century Italian theaters in order to explain the nature of the musical scores from which performers have long worked. He then illuminates the often hidden but crucial negotiations opera scholars and opera conductors and performers: What does it mean to talk about performing from a critical edition? How does one determine what music to perform when multiple versions of an opera exist? What are the implications of omitting passages from an opera in a performance? In addition to vexing questions such as these, Gossett also tackles issues of ornamentation and transposition in vocal style, the matters of translation and adaptation, and even aspects of stage direction and set design.

Throughout this extensive and passionate work, Gossett enlivens his history with reports from his own experiences with major opera companies at venues ranging from the Metropolitan and Santa Fe operas to the Rossini Opera Festival at Pesaro. The result is a book that will enthrall both aficionados of Italian opera and newcomers seeking a reliable introduction to it—in all its incomparable grandeur and timeless allure.

If you drive into any American city with the car stereo blasting, you’ll undoubtedly find radio stations representing R&B/hip-hop, country, Top 40, adult contemporary, rock, and Latin, each playing hit after hit within that musical format. American music has created an array of rival mainstreams, complete with charts in multiple categories. Love it or hate it, the world that radio made has steered popular music and provided the soundtrack of American life for more than half a century.

In Top 40 Democracy, Eric Weisbard studies the evolution of this multicentered pop landscape, along the way telling the stories of the Isley Brothers, Dolly Parton, A&M Records, and Elton John, among others. He sheds new light on the upheavals in the music industry over the past fifteen years and their implications for the audiences the industry has shaped. Weisbard focuses in particular on formats—constructed mainstreams designed to appeal to distinct populations—showing how taste became intertwined with class, race, gender, and region. While many historians and music critics have criticized the segmentation of pop radio, Weisbard finds that the creation of multiple formats allowed different subgroups to attain a kind of separate majority status—for example, even in its most mainstream form, the R&B of the Isley Brothers helped to create a sphere where black identity was nourished. Music formats became the one reliable place where different groups of Americans could listen to modern life unfold from their distinct perspectives. The centers of pop, it turns out, were as complicated, diverse, and surprising as the cultural margins. Weisbard’s stimulating book is a tour de force, shaking up our ideas about the mainstream music industry in order to tease out the cultural importance of all performers and songs.
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