Concerto Conversations

Concerto Conversations

by Joseph Kerman
     
 

Concerto Conversations Joseph Kerman The concerto has attracted relatively little attention as a genre, Joseph Kerman observes, and his urbane and wide-ranging Norton Lectures fill the gap in a way that will delight all music listeners. Kerman addresses the full range of the concerto repertory, treating both the general and the particular. His perceptive commentary…  See more details below

Overview

Concerto Conversations Joseph Kerman The concerto has attracted relatively little attention as a genre, Joseph Kerman observes, and his urbane and wide-ranging Norton Lectures fill the gap in a way that will delight all music listeners. Kerman addresses the full range of the concerto repertory, treating both the general and the particular. His perceptive commentary on individual works—with illustrative performances on the accompanying CD—is alive with enthusiasm, intimations, and insights into the spirit of concerto. Concertos model human relationships, according to Kerman, and his description of the conversation between solo instrument and orchestra brings this observation vividly to life. What does the solo instrument do when it first enters in a concerto? How do composers balance claims of solo-orchestra contrast and solo virtuosity? When do they deploy the sumptuous musical textures that only concertos can provide? Kerman's unexpected answers offer a new understanding of the concerto and a stimulus to enhanced listening. In language that the Boston Globe's Richard Dyer calls "always delightfully vivid," Kerman conducts readers and listeners into the conversations that concertos so eloquently enact. Amid the musical forces at play, he renews the dialogue of music lovers with the language of the concerto—the familiar, the lesser-known, the cherished, and the undervalued. The CD packaged with the book contains movements from works that Kerman treats most intensively—by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Liszt, Tchaikovsky, Bartók, Stravinsky, and Prokofiev. Joseph Kerman is Professor Emeritus of Music, University of California at Berkeley, and the Charles EliotNorton Lecturer at Harvard for 1997 - 98. Charles Eliot Norton Lectures 7 x 91/4 47 musical examples, 10 halftones, 4 diagrams 192 pp. isbn 0-674-15891-1 (KERCOC) $24.95 (£15.50 UK) Music

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Editorial Reviews

Alex Ross
Kerman manages to be both intelligent and intelligible...[writing] for the bright layman, as academicians did once upon a time.
New Republic
Charles Rosen
Splendid, entertaining, original, and often profound...
New York Review of Books
Richard Taruskin
[A] graceful set of ruminations.
New York Times
Judith Weir
Present-day composers should pay particular heed to Kerman's illuminating ideas.
Times Literary Supplement
New Republic
Concerto Conversations is valuable, even crucial, for its unprepossessing manner, its casual movement from one example to the next, its elegance and literateness and lucidity. No Schenker graphs here, no narratology or gender studies. The concerto is revealed not as a construction of bourgeois identity, nor as a zone of suppressed homoeroticism, but instead as a human, emotional realm in which solo and orchestral characters are engaged in various forms of conversation and conflict. Kerman manages to be both intelligent and intelligible. He writes for the bright layman, as academicians did once upon a time. His evocations of particular musical moments are immediate and magical. His gift is so uncommon as to make one sad.
Irish Times
Where many classical music 'self-help' books are faintly condescending in tone, this one tends towards the inspirational as Kerman swoops joyously in the concerto and exposes the drama of its shimmering textures, pounding rhythms and high-tension dialogues between soloist and orchestra.
Times Literary Supplement
Joseph Kerman's series of Norton Lectures on [concertos] could not be more timely. The first beneficial effect is to encourage reflection on the music itself, freed from the flashy trappings the 'music industry' may have forced on it...Kerman's theme, so simple and obvious, is the drama and narrative of the concerto. He aims to describe the situation and events of the concerto in human terms...Kerman's descriptions are cheekily up to the minute, and the assignation of roles to soloist and orchestra becomes something of a party game...The author plays this light-hearted game with considerable perspicacity...Present-day composers should pay particular heed to Kerman's illuminating ideas. Audiences still listen to concertos, and there are major soloists willing to be involved in the developments of something new...Snobbery still surrounds the idea of the concerto, particularly its liveliest, most human aspects. This persuasive little book argues very successively for an end to such self-denial, and suggests that the concerto could have an ebullient creative future.
New York Review of Books
Splendid, entertaining, original, and often profound...Kerman speaks directly and informally to a literate and educated public deeply interested in music...His affable manner sometimes makes his approach to the subject seem obvious, the result of common sense, even when it is most innovative.
New Orleans Times
Concerto Conversations is a satisfying exploration of how the wide range of composers have handled the balance and contrast between soloist and orchestra in a classical concerto. Based on his series of Charles Eliot Norton lectures at Harvard, these are not for the musical novice, but they are surprisingly accessible for probably any regular symphony-goer.
Quarterly Journal of MLA
The set of Norton Lectures given by Joseph Kerman at Harvard University in 1997-98 has been reshaped into Concerto Conversations…This sophisticated yet accessible study expands the lectures' contents but, stemming from talks that were in part extempore, it maintains an air of informality, of improvisation, that should please every reader.
New York Times
[A] graceful set of ruminations.
Choice
As the title implies, Kerman writes in a conversational tone--full of enthusiasm and insight.
Booklist
Six scintillating lectures on the most conversational form of classical music translate superbly to the page, and to make up for the musical exemplification Kerman provided in person, a CD full of recorded examples is part of the package.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780674158917
Publisher:
Harvard University Press
Publication date:
10/29/1999
Series:
Charles Eliot Norton Lectures Series
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
175
Product dimensions:
7.26(w) x 9.51(h) x 0.85(d)

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Meet the Author

Joseph Kerman is Professor Emeritus of Music, University of California at Berkeley, and the Charles Eliot Norton Lecturer at Harvard University for 1997-98.

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