A thorough revision of Sam Morgenstern's 1956 classic, with 40% new material. (Jan.)
This volume is a greatly expanded version of the classic 1956 anthology by Sam Morgenstern. Fisk has added 30 composers to the roster, mostly in the pre-Baroque and contemporary eras, and has taken advantage of recent scholarship to prune and update the entries. The result is a fascinating glimpse into the writings of 103 major composers, from Marchetto of Paduo (14th century) on the definition of musician, to the contemporary British composer Oliver Knussen on much the same topic. Music history buffs will recognize chestnuts such as Bach's famous memorandum to the Town Council of Leipzig and will be pleased to make new discoveries, such as the elegant, cryptic prose of Toru Takemitsu. A singular pleasure, in fact, is to recognize that many composers are almost as fluent in the written word as they are in the transient world of musical sound. And while pettiness and petulance abound, there are enough prescient insights to convince the reader that composers by and large know their subject extremely well. Recommended for general collections.Larry A. Lipkis, Moravian Coll., Bethlehem, Pa.