Choral Masterworks: A Listener's Guide

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Michael Steinberg's highly successful listener's guides-The Symphony and The Concerto-have been universally praised for their blend of captivating biography, crystal clear musical analysis, and delightful humor. Now Steinberg follows these two greatly admired volumes with Choral Masterworks: A Listener's Guide, the only such guide available to this most popular of musical forms.

Here are more than fifty illuminating essays on the classic choral masterworks, ranging from Handel's Messiah, Bach's Mass in B Minor, and Beethoven's Missa solemnis, to works by Haydn, Brahms, Mendelssohn, and many others. Steinberg spans the entire history of classical music, from such giants of the Romantic era as Verdi and Berlioz, to leading modern composers such as Elgar, Rachmaninoff, Vaughan Williams, and Stravinsky, to contemporary masters such as John Adams and Charles Wuorinen. For each piece, Steinberg includes a fascinating biographical account of the work's genesis, often spiced with wonderful asides, such as the true story of Mozart's Requiem-Salieri had nothing to do with the composition of it, nor did he poison Mozart, who most likely died of rheumatic fever. The author also includes an astute musical analysis of each piece, one that casual music lovers can easily appreciate and that musicians and more serious fans will find invaluable. The book also includes basic information such as the various movements of the work, the organization of the chorus and orchestra, and brief historical notes on early performances.

More than twenty million Americans perform regularly in choirs or choruses. Choral Masterworks will appeal not only to concert goers and CD collectors, but also to this vast multitude of choral performers, an especially engaged and active community.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Choral Masterworks is a fascinating read, a valuable historical reference, and a lesson to each of us who attempt to write our own program notes on sharing insight with our audiences."--Joe C. Pendleton, Choral Journal

"What sets Steinberg's writing apart is its appealing mixture of impregnable authority (he knows this music) and purely personal asides (by the end of the book, we know this man). Choral Masterworks can be read by anybody, from a professional musician to any young listener newly braced by the stoic pessimism of the Brahms 'German Requiem.'"--Washington Post Book World

"Ostensibly the first listener's guide to choral music--and an informed and enjoyable one at that."--Library Journal (starred review)

"Well-written, concise introductions that record collectors, concertgoers, and chorus members alike should enjoy."--Booklist

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195340662
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 3/28/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 1,143,460
  • Product dimensions: 9.20 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Steinberg is a widely admired writer, critic, lecturer and teacher. For many years, he wrote program notes for the New York Philharmonic, the San Francisco Symphony, and the Boston Symphony. He was music critic for The Boston Globe, wrote liner notes for all the major classical record labels, and was on the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music and the New England Conservatory. He lives in Edina, Minnesota.

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Table of Contents

Sacred texts in a secular world : a word to nonbelievers - and believers 3
Harmonium 9
The passions 16
Magnificat 31
Mass in B minor 34
Missa solemnis 45
Requiem 61
A German requiem 68
The shorter choral works 75
War requiem 86
Requiem in C minor 97
Canti de prigonia (songs of captivity) 104
Stabat mater 113
The dream of Gerontius 119
Requiem 131
Messiah 138
Harmoniemesse (wing-band mass) 155
Two great oratorios 159
Le Roi David (King David) 177
Glagolitic mass 186
Psalmus hungaricus 194
Elias (Elijah) 200
The shorter choral works 210
Mass in C minor 212
Requiem 219
Carmina burana 230
The bells 238
Das Buch mit sieben Siegeln (the book with seven seals) 243
When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom'd 252
The wedding 257
Persephone 260
Symphony of psalms 265
Mass 269
Canticum sacrum (sacred canticle) 273
Requiem canticles 277
A child of our time 280
Vaughan Williams
A sea symphony 288
Sancta Civitas 295
Requiem 301
Belshazzar's feast 311
Genesis 317
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