Concerto Conversations

Overview

The concerto has attracted relatively little attention as a genre, Joseph Kerman observes, and in Concerto Conversations he renews the dialogue of music lovers with the language of the concerto--the familiar, the lesser-known, the cherished, and the undervalued. Concertos model human relationships, according to Kerman, and he enthusiastically conducts readers and listeners into the conversations that concertos so eloquently enact. The accompanying CD contains illustrative movements from works that Kerman treats ...
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Overview

The concerto has attracted relatively little attention as a genre, Joseph Kerman observes, and in Concerto Conversations he renews the dialogue of music lovers with the language of the concerto--the familiar, the lesser-known, the cherished, and the undervalued. Concertos model human relationships, according to Kerman, and he enthusiastically conducts readers and listeners into the conversations that concertos so eloquently enact. The accompanying CD contains illustrative movements from works that Kerman treats most intensively--by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Liszt, Tchaikovsky, Bartók, Stravinsky, and Prokofiev.
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Editorial Reviews

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.
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
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674182004
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/2013
  • Series: Charles Eliot Norton Lectures Series , #2019
  • Pages: 188
  • Product dimensions: 6.69 (w) x 9.61 (h) x 0.50 (d)

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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Table of Contents

Getting Started Particularity and Polarity Reciprocity, Roles, and Relationships Virtuosity / Virtù Diffusion: Concerto Textures The Sense of an Ending Conversation-stopper (After-words) Notes Music Examples Credits Index Music on the CD Music on the CD Beethoven, Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, 1st movement: Allegro con brio_16:03 Robert Levin, fortepiano; Orchestre Révolutionaire et Romantique, dir. John Eliot Gardiner. (P) 1998 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Hamburg. Courtesy of Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Hamburg, a Universal Music Company. Beethoven, Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat, "Emperor," from 1st mvt.: Allegro_1:15 Robert Levin, fortepiano; Orchestre Révolutionaire et Romantique, dir. John Eliot Gardiner. (P) 1998 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Hamburg. Courtesy of Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Hamburg, a Universal Music Company. Stravinsky, Concerto for Piano and Wind Instruments, 3rd mvt.: Allegro_4:35 Olli Mustonen, piano; Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, dir. Vladimir Ashkenazy. (P) 1993 The Decca Record Company Ltd., London. Courtesy of the Decca Record Company Ltd., London. Bartók, Piano Concerto No. 2, 3rd mvt.: Allegro molto_6:00 Zoltán Kocsis, piano; Budapest Festival Orchestra, dir. Iván Fischer. (P) 1985 Philips Classics Productions. Courtesy of Philips Classics Productions. Schumann, Piano Concerto in A minor, from 2nd mvt.: Intermezzo: Andantino grazioso_2:00 Radu Lupu, piano; London Symphony Orchestra, dir. AndréPrevin. (P) 1973 The Decca Records Co. Ltd. London. Courtesy of The Decca Records Co. Ltd. London. Chaikovsky, Violin Concerto, 2nd mvt.: Canzonetta (Andante)_6:10 Arthur Grumiaux, violin; New Philharmonia Orchestra, dir. Jan Krenz. (P) 1960, 1972, 1974, 1976 Philips Classics Productions. Courtesy of Philips Classics Productions. Chaikovsky, Violin Concerto, from 3rd mvt.: Allegro vivacissimo_2:40 Arthur Grumiaux, violin; New Philharmonia Orchestra, dir. Jan Krenz. (P) 1960, 1972, 1974, 1976 Philips Classics Productions. Courtesy of Philips Classics Productions. Liszt, Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-flat, from first mvt.: Allegro maestoso_3:00 Martha Argerich, piano; London Symphony Orchestra, dir. Claudio Abbado. (P) 1967, 1968, 1975, 1980 Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft. Courtesy of Philips Classics, a division of the Philips Music Group. Prokofiev, Violin Concerto No. 1 in D, first mvt.: Andantino_9:48 Kyung Wha Chung, violin; London Symphony Orchestra, dir. André Previn. (P) 1973, 1977 The Decca Records Co. Ltd., London. Courtesy of The Decca Records Co. Ltd., London. Prokofiev, Violin Concerto No. 1, from 3rd mvt.: Moderato-Più tranquillo_2:40 Kyung Wha Chung, violin; London Symphony Orchestra, dir. André Previn. (P) 1973, 1977 The Decca Records Co. Ltd., London. Courtesy of The Decca Records Co. Ltd., London. Bach, Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G, 1st mvt.: Allegro_6:24 Musica Antiqua Köln, dir. Reinhard Goebel. (P) 1986 (BWV 1066)/1987 Polydor International GmbH, Hamburg. Courtesy of Polydor International GmbH, Hamburg. Mozart, Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor, K. 466, 3rd mvt.: Allegro assai_7:35 Malcolm Bilson, fortepiano; English Baroque Soloists, dir. John Eliot Gardiner. (P) 1987 Polydor International GmbH, Hamburg. Courtesy of Polydor International GmbH, Hamburg.
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