The Gesualdo Hex: Music, Myth, and Memory

Overview

A riveting investigation of one of the most provocative musicians of the Renaissance, who continues to captivate composers, artists, and audiences today.
In this vivid tale of adultery and intrigue, witchcraft and murder, Glenn Watkins explores the fascinating life of the Renaissance composer Carlo Gesualdo—a life suffused with scandal and bordering on the fantastical. An isolated prince, Gesualdo had a personal life that was no less eccentric and bewildering than the music he ...

See more details below
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (38) from $1.99   
  • New (13) from $4.98   
  • Used (25) from $1.99   
Sending request ...

Overview

A riveting investigation of one of the most provocative musicians of the Renaissance, who continues to captivate composers, artists, and audiences today.
In this vivid tale of adultery and intrigue, witchcraft and murder, Glenn Watkins explores the fascinating life of the Renaissance composer Carlo Gesualdo—a life suffused with scandal and bordering on the fantastical. An isolated prince, Gesualdo had a personal life that was no less eccentric and bewildering than the music he composed; his biography has often clouded our perception of his oeuvre, which music scholars have periodically dismissed as a late Renaissance deformation of little consequence.
Today, however, Gesualdo’s music, once deemed so strange as to be unperformable, stands as one of the most vibrant legacies of the late Italian Renaissance with an undeniable impact on a host of twentieth-century musicians and artists. The incendiary details of Gesualdo’s life recede, and his grip on our musical imagination comes to the fore. Watkins challenges our preconceptions of what has become a nearly mythic persona, weaving together the cumulative experience of some of the most vibrant artists of the past century from Stravinsky and Schoenberg to Abbado and Herzog.
Beyond questions of mere influence, however, The Gesualdo Hex offers a profound meditation on cultural memory and historical awareness: how composers attempt to shape the legacy they will bequeath to the world, and how music and history inevitably take on a new guise as they are revisited by subsequent generations and reinterpreted in light of contemporary experience. In examining Gesualdo’s life, music, myth, and memory intertwine with one another to reveal an uncanny affinity with our own time. With his elegant and engaging prose, Watkins asks us to grapple with our understanding not only of art and the artists who create it but also of history itself.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Brett Dean
“With his second wonderfully illuminating book on Gesualdo, Watkins reconfirms the extremely significant role he has played in the further understanding of this remarkable prince’s life and work.”
Publishers Weekly
Watkins first wrote about Carlo Gesualdo (1566–1613) more than 35 years ago (Gesualdo: The Man and His Music), and even before that he was in close contact with those who produced the earliest recordings of the Renaissance composer's work for modern audiences. Some of the most interesting passages in this analysis of Gesualdo's shifting reputation stem from Watkins's recollections of encounters with classical music icons like Nadia Boulanger and Igor Stravinsky. But it is also an academic consideration of the changing nature of historical reputation, and of what elements of the Gesualdo legend have inspired later musicians (and other artists, including Werner Herzog and the novelist Wesley Stace) and why. A particularly engaging section draws parallels with Arnold Schoenberg, showing how tremendously innovative composers also continue to draw upon their earliest influences without stylistic discontinuity. Gesualdo's transitional voice “belonged to its time,” Watkins concludes, and “later ages, noting its equivocal position, prized it largely for that reason and noted its power.” Readers without access to Gesualdo's music may feel somewhat lost, but for those who are familiar with the material, Watkins provides thoughtful insights into its staying power. 25 illus.(Jan.)
Library Journal
Watkins, who previously wrote a more traditional book on Renaissance composer Carlo Gesualdo (Gesualdo: The Man and His Music), briefly recounts Gesualdo's life and works before describing his apparent postmodern cultural relevance after centuries of neglect and critical abuse. Gesualdo, the bad boy of Renaissance music (he murdered his first wife and her lover, abused his second wife, and was involved with witches who were eventually tortured in the Inquisition), has been championed in modern times by musicians as eminent as Igor Stravinsky and Marilyn Horne. Watkins documents the growing interest in Gesualdo since the late 1950s, which was spurred by a new edition of Gesualdo's chief works and connections between the chromaticism in Gesualdo's music (chiefly madrigals) and modern masters like Arnold Schoenberg. VERDICT Watkins's brilliant look at how cultural influences propagate through time in strange and unpredictable ways will appeal to a small, mostly academic, audience.—Bruce R. Schueneman, Texas A&M Univ. Lib., Kingsville
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393071023
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/25/2010
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Glenn Watkins is the author of four books, including Proof Through the Night: Music and the Great War and Gesualdo: The Man and His Music, and is coeditor of Gesualdo’s complete works. He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)