The Indispensable Composers A Personal Guide (PDF)

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The Indispensable Composers A Personal Guide is a decent introduction to the life and works of several famous composers Well known composers such as Bach and Beethoven are present and there famous composers Well known composers such as Bach and Beethoven are present and there a couple of interesting lesser known ones as well Bartok for instance It was reat to see Stravinsky included Overall the writer ives a mini biography of the featured composer and then delves into some analysis of their works At times this seemed to be needless padding as a musician I was interested in the actual musical analysis and not scene by scene descriptions of some of the operas Since he writes for the New York Times it should come as no surprise that he felt the need to throw in his social agenda at times and this proved to be a needless distraction which took away from the exposition and cheapened the content Overall this can serve as a decent introduction to various composers and features a nice list in the back of the book of recommended recordings The If Wagner s antisemitism concerns you don t worry because I knew a Jewish uy who liked him argument is beyond lame but the rest of the book is fine I uess I have been a reader of NY Times chief critic for years and this book is terrific Loosely based on his have been a reader of NY Times chief critic for years and this book is terrific Loosely based on his Ten Composers project an eight week series of articles which caused a sensation in 2011 especially when he asked his readers to jump in with their own lists I leefully did this book is his personal list of the composers he argues that one cannot live without There will be uibbles with his list by many Mahler and Tchaikovsky didn t make the cut Schumann and Bartok do but his list is a Girl in the Blue Coat good cross section of composers and their respective times with a scholars and critics insights into the composers musical periods and their contributions to therowth of classical music He includes personal recollections of his encounters with some of these pieces as a musician and as a critic which are enlightening After reading the epilogue I thought of a new project for Tommasini a similar list and analysis of other 20th Century composers and current 21st Century composers I think that classical music could use a Hunter Kiss guide to recentcurrent composers and who better than Tommasini to write that book As a critic he has probably seen concerts as well as done interviews and profile pieces of many of these composers I would find a survey of these composers by someone with his credentials fascinating A wonderful personal informative reviewStarting with a justification of an exercise he is uncomfortable with it flows out of a New York Times series on the top 10 composers the author writes convincing arguments about his selections and their place I found the discussion of Schubert s struggles and the related reflections from the authors life to be especially mind expanding As one working at understanding the writing of Teilhard de Chardon it makes me yearn for the manifestation of the Omega pointThe arguments in this book also helped understand and place Schoenbergs 12 tone system in the historical development of music And the book finishes with very sensible arguments about being open to new music without worrying about its place in the canon And the new understanding this book hasiven me will help me thoroughly appreciate the wealth of recordings in the new Bach 333 set New York Times chief classical music critic Tommasini proves to be an engaging uide the history of classical music focusing on the heavyweights from. An exploration into the uestion of reatness from the Classical Music Critic of the New York TimesWhen he began to listen to the reat works of classical music as a child Anthony Tommasini had many uestions Why did a particular piece move him How did the music work Over time he realized that his passion for this music was not enough He needed to understand it Take Bach for starters Who was he How does one account for his music and its unshakeable hold on us today As a critic Tommasini has devoted particular attention to living composers and overlooked repertory But like all classical music lovers the canon has remained central for him In.

The Indispensable Composers A Personal GuideIng never studied it formally and there was something in each chapter that was new to me I thought he couldn t tell me anything about Beethoven that I didn t already know but his emphasis on BEETHOVEN S IMPROVISATION SKILLS WAS AN INTERESTING NEW ANGLE s improvisation skills was an interesting new angle that has implications for modern music culture of which Tommasini is well awareI hope this is marketed well as a personal story than a dry history Tommasini has a rich personal history to pull from to enliven the history he s telling and he keeps the balance with impressive skillI ot a copy to review from the publisher through Edelweiss The key to this book is the subtitle it is a PERSONAL uide to some seventeen of the major composers of classical music Tommasini the chief classical music critic for the New York Times has written about Monteverdi JS Bach Handel Haydn Mozart Beethoven To varying degrees there is a full biography these seem to peter out as the book progresses as well as a discussion of their work and why the author considers each to be indispensable There are some passages when the discussion ets somewhat technical but for the most part the book is written for the lover of classical music who may have little to know musical training Interspersed with the discussion are various limpses into the author s own experiences of music and musical performance I suppose one might uibble with an inclusion or an exclusion here and there I wonder about Puccini and I was always under the impression that Western music began with Palestrina but on the whole however the usual suspects are here and well treated As someone who enjoys classical music but doesn t know much about its history or theory this book provided a lovely overview of 17 of the most historically notable composers obviously leaving out some major ones For each person Tommasini a critic at the New York Times but also a classically trained pianist ives a biographical sketch an overview of their historical importance and commentary on a few major works Early on Tommasini admits something he has learned through years of writing about music for the lay audience it is hard to write about how the music sounds and easier to write around the music In this book he does this in several ways His technical discussions of things like tonality or atonality structure etc were educational and made me want to learn about music theory His personal anecdotes about tackling some of the music himself were particularly interesting and revealing Much less interesting were the lengthy blow by blow descriptions of the plots of operas most egregious was in the chapter on Wagner where a full ten pages were iven to the plot of the Ring cycle It is understandable that the author would devote so much space to Opera he comes from New York the most opera centric classical music city in America But that focus made my attention flag in chapters 10 13 The Earlier Chapters Had earlier chapters had on some of my very favorite composers like Handel and Beethoven and the final chapter was the satisfying payoff to all the theory we had learned along the way in which Schoenberg Stravinsky and Bartok break with that theoryAnother reat value of this book I now have a long list of classical pieces I want to listen to A mix of memoir biography concert notes and criticism that mostly works Due to the author s special love for opera which I don t share I was able to skip whole sections and chapters I especially enjoyed the Brahms and Debussy chapters. O be canonical now Who The Organ Grinders gets to say And do we have enough perspective on the 20th century to even begin assessing it To make his case Tommasini draws on elements of biography the anxiety of influence the composer's relationships with colleagues and shifting attitudes toward a composer's work over time Because he has spent his life contemplating these titans Tommasini shares impressions from performances he has heard oriven or moments when his own biography proves revealing As he argues for his particular pantheon of indispensable composers Anthony Tommasini provides a masterclass in what to listen for and how to understand what music does to ,

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The Renaissance Monteverdi Baroue Bach Handel Classical Haydn Mozart Beethoven Romantic Schubert Chopin Schumann Brahms Wagner Verdi Puccini Impressionistic Debussy and Modern Schoenberg 12 tone Stravinsky Bart k stylesages Since he comfortably blends biography history musical analysis and personal anecdotes the book never feels like an academic treatise I leave it with a better understanding of the relationships among these composers I m also interested in exploring new music even the intimidating Schoenberg or late Stravinsky The work s one shortcoming is Tommasini s tendency to offer lengthy summaries of opera plots A shorter treatment would have been sufficient to inspire me to investigate further I hardly wanted to know the endings Also he would I hardly wanted to know the endings Also he would had space to cover other notable composers like Dvor k Mahler Tchaikovsky Rachmaninov and Shostakovich This list of reatest classical music composers is indeed a personal list but it is that personal uality of the study of these composers and those he wanted to include in the list but did not that brought the book home to me I read this book at a time in my life when I acuired a passionate hatred for music I couldn t even bear to listen to it But Anthony Tommasini s personal journey through the lives of reat composers and their music reconnected me with my own experiences Remembering the piano pieces I had learned we studied much the same repertoire through our high school and college years via Tommasini s descriptions of them I became profoundly nostalgic and remembered why I loved them as wellI learned and rediscovered details of composers lives JS Bach s middle night copying of forbidden musical scores Beethoven s finger cracking Hammerklavier Sonata Op 106 and what a difficult time other pianists have had with that final fugue Schubert s schadenfreude Mozart s potty mouth Johannes Brahms s efforts to play the peacemaker within his own family unit as well as synthesizing disparate factions of his musical world Wagner s Parsifal was for years my favorite opera and now I remember why Verdi Puccini I knew nothing and now I realize what an oversight that has beenThe final clincher was the chapter on Schonberg Stravinsky and Bartok Remembering my own twelve tone compositions at university reminded me how much I loved composing I m rateful I read the book not all parts of it were for me but appreciated all of its parts There Could Be A could be a of debate on why Tammasini chose these composers to include in his book rather than others but that s not a debate that much interests me This is part history part memoir of a man who has lived a privileged in the best way music oriented life witness to many reat concerts and also player of many Silver in the Wood great works on piano He s been waved at by Stravinsky he thinks maybe and roamed the streets with thoughtful talented musicians He emphasizes German composers and operas and piano works over otherenres but those are the ones he chooses to talk about and that s his prerogative as the author And I am happy to let him make those choices because his excellent writing and moving personal stories make for a wonderful reading experience Diving into the book I was braced for a reference book of sorts and I ot something much meaningful and personal I d recommend it to anyone interested in what we call classical music He has sections to explain basic concepts for the uninitiated I m a casual but earnest consumer of classical music hav. 2011 in his role as the Chief Classical Music Critic for the New York Times he wrote a popular series in which he somewhat cheekily set out to determine the all time top ten composers Inviting input from readers Tommasini wrestled with uestions of reatness Readers joined the exercise in droves Some railed against classical music’s obsession with reatness but then raged when Mahler was left off the final list This intellectual ame reminded them why they loved music in the first place Now in THE INDISPENSABLE COMPOSERS Tommasini offers his own personal The Second Cure guide to the canon and whatreatness really means in classical music What does it mean