Janácek and His World

Princeton University Press
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Once thought to be a provincial composer of only passing interest to eccentrics, Leos Janácek (1854-1928) is now widely acknowledged as one of the most powerful and original creative figures of his time. Banned for all purposes from the Prague stage until the age of 62, and unable to make it even out of the provincial capital of Brno, his operas are now performed in dynamic productions throughout the globe. This volume brings together some of the world's foremost Janácek scholars to look closely at a broad range of issues surrounding his life and work. Representing the latest in Janácek scholarship, the essays are accompanied by newly translated writings by the composer himself.

The collection opens with an essay by Leon Botstein who clarifies and amplifies how Max Brod contributed to Janácek 's international success by serving as "point man" between Czechs and Germans, Jews and non-Jews. John Tyrrell, the dean of Janácek scholars, distills more than thirty years of research in "How Janácek Composed Operas," while Diane Paige considers Janácek's liason with a married woman and the question of the artist's muse. Geoffrey Chew places the idea of the adulterous muse in the larger context of Czech fin de siècle decadence in his thoroughgoing consideration of Janácek's problematic opera Osud. Derek Katz examines the problems encountered by Janácek's satirically patriotic "Excursions of Mr. Broucek" in the post-World War I era of Czechoslovak nationalism, while Paul Wingfield mounts a defense of Janácek against allegations of cruelty in his wife's memoirs. In the final essay, Michael Beckerman asks how much true history can be culled from one of Janácek's business cards.


The book then turns to writings by Janácek previously unpublished in English. These not only include fascinating essays on Naturalism, opera direction, and Tristan and Isolde, but four impressionistic chronicles of the "speech melodies" of daily life. They provide insight into Janácek's revolutionary method of composition, and give us the closest thing we will ever have to the "heard" record of a Czech pre-war past-or any past, for that matter.

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About the author

Michael Beckerman is Professor of Music at New York University. His books include Janácek as Theorist (Pendragon), Janácek and Czech Music (Pendragon) Dvorák and His World (Princeton), and New Worlds of Dvorák (Norton). He writes on music for the New York Times, was awarded the Janácek Medal by the Czech Government, and is a laureate of the Czech Music Council..
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Oct 12, 2011
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Pages
320
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ISBN
9781400832095
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Language
English
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Genres
Music / History & Criticism
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Joseph Haydn's symphonies and string quartets are staples of the concert repertory, yet many aspects of this founding genius of the Viennese Classical style are only beginning to be explored. From local Kapellmeister to international icon, Haydn achieved success by developing a musical language aimed at both the connoisseurs and amateurs of the emerging musical public. In this volume, the first collection of essays in English devoted to this composer, a group of leading musicologists examines Haydn's works in relation to the aesthetic and cultural crosscurrents of his time.

Haydn and His World opens with an examination of the contexts of the composer's late oratorios: James Webster connects the Creation with the sublime--the eighteenth-century term for artistic experience of overwhelming power--and Leon Botstein explores the reception of Haydn's Seasons in terms of the changing views of programmatic music in the nineteenth century. Essays on Haydn's instrumental music include Mary Hunter on London chamber music as models of private and public performance, fortepianist Tom Beghin on rhetorical aspects of the Piano Sonata in D Major, XVI:42, Mark Evan Bonds on the real meaning behind contemporary comparisons of symphonies to the Pindaric ode, and Elaine R. Sisman on Haydn's Shakespeare, Haydn as Shakespeare, and "originality." Finally, Rebecca Green draws on primary sources to place one of Haydn's Goldoni operas at the center of the Eszterháza operatic culture of the 1770s.


The book also includes two extensive late-eighteenth-century discussions, translated into English for the first time, of music and musicians in Haydn's milieu, as well as a fascinating reconstruction of the contents of Haydn's library, which shows him fully conversant with the intellectual and artistic trends of the era.

As the twentieth century draws to a close, Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951) is being acknowledged as one of its most significant and multifaceted composers. Schoenberg and His World explores the richness of his genius through commentary and documents.

Marilyn McCoy opens the volume with a concise chronology, based on the latest scholarship, of Schoenberg's life and works. Essays by Joseph Auner, Leon Botstein, Reinhold Brinkmann, J. Peter Burkholder, Severine Neff, and Rudolf Stephan examine aspects of his creative output, theoretical writings, relation to earlier music, and the socio-cultural contexts in which he worked.


The documentary portions of Schoenberg and His World capture Schoenberg at critical periods of his career: during the first decades of the century, primarily in his native Vienna; from 1926 to 1933, in Berlin; and from 1933 on, in the U.S. Included here is the first complete translation into English of the remarkable Festschrift prepared for the 38-year-old Schoenberg by his pupils in 1912; it presciently explored the diverse talents as a composer, teacher, painter, and theorist for which he was later to be recognized. The Berlin years, when he held one of the most prestigious teaching positions in Europe, are represented by interviews with him and articles about his public lectures.


The final portion of the volume, devoted to the theme Schoenberg and America, focuses on how the composer viewed--and was viewed by--the country where he spent his final eighteen years. Sabine Feisst brings together and comments upon sources which, contrary to much received opinion, attest to both the considerable impact that Schoenberg had upon his newly adopted land and his own deep involvement in its musical life.

During the 1830s and 1840s the remarkably versatile composer-pianist-organist-conductor Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy stood at the forefront of German and English musical life. Bringing together previously unpublished essays by historians and musicologists, reflections on Mendelssohn written by his contemporaries, the composer's own letters, and early critical reviews of his music, this volume explores various facets of Mendelssohn's music, his social and intellectual circles, and his career. The essays in Part I cover the nature of a Jewish identity in Mendelssohn's music (Leon Botstein); his relationship to the Berlin Singakademie (William A. Little); the role of his sister Fanny Hensel, herself a child prodigy and accomplished composer (Nancy Reich); Mendelssohn's compositional craft in the Italian Symphony and selected concert overtures (Claudio Spies); his oratorio Elijah (Martin Staehelin); his incidental music to Sophocles' Antigone (Michael P. Steinberg); his anthem "Why, O Lord, delay forever?" (David Brodbeck); and an unfinished piano sonata (R. Larry Todd). Part II presents little-known memoirs by such contemporaries as J. C. Lobe, A. B. Marx, Julius Schubring, C. E. Horsley, Max Mller, and Betty Pistor. Mendelssohn's letters are represented in Part III by his correspondence with Wilhelm von Boguslawski and Aloys Fuchs, here translated for the first time. Part IV contains late nineteenth-century critical reviews by Heinrich Heine, Franz Brendel, Friedrich Niecks, Otto Jahn, and Hans von Blow.
Antonin Dvorák made his famous trip to the United States one hundred years ago, but despite an enormous amount of attention from scholars and critics since that time, he remains an elusive figure. Comprising both interpretive essays and a selection of fascinating documents that bear on Dvorák's career and music, this volume addresses fundamental questions about the composer while presenting an argument for a radical reappraisal.

The essays, which make up the first part of the book, begin with Leon Botstein's inquiry into the reception of Dvorák's work in German-speaking Europe, in England, and in America. Commenting on the relationship between Dvorák and Brahms, David Beveridge offers the first detailed portrait of perhaps the most interesting artistic friendship of the era. Joseph Horowitz explores the context in which the "New World" Symphony was premiered a century ago, offering an absorbing account of New York musical life at that time. In discussing Dvorák as a composer of operas, Jan Smaczny provides an unexpected slant on the widely held view of him as a "nationalist" composer. Michael Beckerman further investigates this view of Dvorák by raising the question of the role nationalism played in music of the nineteenth century.


The second part of this volume presents Dvorák's correspondence and reminiscences as well as unpublished reviews and criticism from the Czech press. It includes a series of documents from the composer's American years, a translation of the review of Rusalka's premiere with the photographs that accompanied the article, and Janácek's analyses of the symphonic poems. Many of these documents are published in English for the first time.

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