Description : The Reader's Guide to Music is designed to provide a useful single-volume guide to the ever-increasing number of English language book-length studies in music. Each entry consists of a bibliography of some 3-20 titles and an essay in which these titles are evaluated, by an expert in the field, in light of the history of writing and scholarship on the given topic. The more than 500 entries include not just writings on major composers in music history but also the genres in which they worked (from early chant to rock and roll) and topics important to the various disciplines of music scholarship (from aesthetics to gay/lesbian musicology).
Description : John Merbecke (c.1505–c.1585) is most famous as the composer of the first musical setting of the English liturgy, The Booke of Common Praier Noted (BCPN), published in 1550. Not only was Merbecke a pioneer in setting English prose to music but also the compiler of the first Concordance of the whole English Bible (1550) and of the first English encyclopaedia of biblical and theological studies, A Booke of Notes and Common Places (1581). By situating Merbecke and his work within a broader intellectual and religio-cultural context of Tudor England, this book challenges the existing studies of Merbecke based on the narrow theological approach to the Reformation. Furthermore, it suggests a re-thinking of the prevailing interpretative framework of Reformation musical history. On the basis of the new contextual study of Merbecke, this book seeks to re-interpret his work, particularly BCPN, in the light of humanist rhetoric. It sees Merbecke as embodying the ideal of the 'Christian-musical orator', demonstrating that BCPN is an Anglican epitome of the Erasmian synthesis of eloquence, theology and music. The book thus depicts Merbecke as a humanist reformer, through re-evaluation of his contributions to the developments of vernacular music and literature in early modern England. As such it will be of interest, not only to church musicians, but also to historians of the Reformation and students of wider Tudor culture.
Description : Tonal Space in the Music of Antonio Vivaldi incorporates an analytical study of Vivaldi's style into a more general exploration of harmonic and tonal organization in the music of the late Italian Baroque. The harmonic and tonal language of Vivaldi and his contemporaries, full of curious links between traditional modal thinking and what would later be considered common-practice major-minor tonality, directly reflects the historical circumstances of the shifting attitude toward the conceptualization of tonal space so crucial to Western art music. Vivaldi is examined in a completely new context, allowing both his prosaic and idiosyncratic sides to emerge clearly. This book contributes to a better understanding of Vivaldi's individual style, while illuminating wider processes of stylistic development and the diffusion of artistic ideas in the 18th century.
Description : Handel is one of the most remarkable figures in the history of western music. His compositions form one of the peaks of creative achievement in the Baroque period, and cover a remarkable range: full-scale Italian operas and English oratorios (including Messiah), but also shorter works such as the Water Music and the Coronation Anthem Zadok the Priest. His compositional processes were often complex, but could result in accessible and memorable 'hit tunes', such as the aria that subsequently became famous as 'Handel's Largo'. His life and career were as remarkable as his music. Born in Germany to a family that reputedly tried to discourage his initial interest in music, he broke away to seek his fortune in Italian opera, and proceeded to gain first-hand experience of the latest Italian styles in Rome, Florence, Venice and Naples. A series of career moves brought him via Hanover to London, where he eventually settled and dominated the city's musical life for half a century. There he quickly made his mark in English church music as well as Italian opera, and eventually created two new musical genres--English theatre oratorio and the organ concerto. Handel is important also because, as a musician, he also became a significant public figure. In Rome he attracted the patronage of princes and cardinals; soon after his arrival in London he appeared at the court of Queen Anne, and he subsequently enjoyed substantial support from the "Hanoverian" royal family. He survived turbulent periods in the musical and political life of London, reached a wider public through publications of his music, died a rich man and was buried in Westminster Abbey. This biography provides a comprehensive and balanced account of both the man and his music, drawing on the unusually rich legacy of documentary and musical sources from Handel's lifetime. This new edition of a book that has been recognized as a 'classic' biography of Handel, reliable on the factual details of the composer's life and comprehensive in the coverage of his music, incorporates a great deal of new material. The last half century has seen a great renewal of research on the circumstances of Handel's life, and a major expansion in performances and recordings of his music. The book brings together the results of this scholarly activity, and is informed by wide experience of modern performances of Handel's music, including the revival of his operas and experimentation with 'authentic' performance practices.
Description : What is music, and why does it move us? From Pythagoras to the present, writers have struggled to isolate the essence of "pure" or "absolute" music in ways that also account for its profound effect. In Absolute Music: The History of an Idea, Mark Evan Bonds traces the history of these efforts across more than two millennia, paying special attention to the relationship between music's essence and its qualities of form, expression, beauty, autonomy, as well as its perceived capacity to disclose philosophical truths. The core of this book focuses on the period between 1850 and 1945. Although the idea of pure music is as old as antiquity, the term "absolute music" is itself relatively recent. It was Richard Wagner who coined the term, in 1846, and he used it as a pejorative in his efforts to expose the limitations of purely instrumental music. For Wagner, music that was "absolute" was isolated, detached from the world, sterile. His contemporary, the Viennese critic Eduard Hanslick, embraced this quality of isolation as a guarantor of purity. Only pure, absolute music, he argued, could realize the highest potential of the art. Bonds reveals how and why perceptions of absolute music changed so radically between the 1850s and 1920s. When it first appeared, "absolute music" was a new term applied to old music, but by the early decades of the twentieth century, it had become-paradoxically--an old term associated with the new music of modernists like Schoenberg and Stravinsky. Bonds argues that the key developments in this shift lay not in discourse about music but rather the visual arts. The growing prestige of abstraction and form in painting at the turn of the twentieth century-line and color, as opposed to object-helped move the idea of purely abstract, absolute music to the cutting edge of musical modernism. By carefully tracing the evolution of absolute music from Ancient Greece through the Middle Ages to the twentieth-century, Bonds not only provides the first comprehensive history of this pivotal concept but also provokes new thoughts on the essence of music and how essence has been used to explain music's effect. A long awaited book from one of the most respected senior scholars in the field, Absolute Music will be essential reading for anyone interested in the history, theory, and aesthetics of music.