The Lives of the Great Composers

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In the new edition of this highly successful book, Harold Schonberg has traced the consecutive line of composers from Claudio Monteverdi to the tonalists of the 1990s through a series of fascinating biographical chapters. Music, the author contends, is a continually evolving art, and there have been no geniuses, however, great, who have not been influenced by their predecessors. The great composers are here presented as human beings who lived and related to the real world around them. Schonberg brings the reader ...
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Overview

In the new edition of this highly successful book, Harold Schonberg has traced the consecutive line of composers from Claudio Monteverdi to the tonalists of the 1990s through a series of fascinating biographical chapters. Music, the author contends, is a continually evolving art, and there have been no geniuses, however, great, who have not been influenced by their predecessors. The great composers are here presented as human beings who lived and related to the real world around them. Schonberg brings the reader closer to an identification with the composers he discusses and thus closer to an understanding of their music. The book consequently places more emphasis on biographical details and less upon technical analysis of the music. For this newly designed edition, Schonberg has once again extended the book's coverage with informative and clearly written descriptions of the later serialists, minimalist composers, and the new tonalists of the 1990s. Scattered throughout are many changes and additions reflecting the wide range of musicological findings of the past fifteen years. An updated bibliography has been prepared and additional illustrations provided.

This updated and expanded edition of the perennial favorite traces the line of composers from Monteverde to the tonalists of the 1990s. Schonberg discusses the lives and works of the foremost figures in classical music, weaving a fabric rich in detail and anecdote. Photos. 672 pp.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This third edition of a work that has become a standard resource since its publication in 1981 includes brief but significant changes. A new chapter brings the work up to date, covering later serialists such as Stockhausen and Carter, minimalists Philip Glass and John Adams, and Alfred Schnittke and Peter Maxwell Davies. Schonberg discusses the recent phenomenal success of recordings of Gregorian chant and the search for styles of composition that combine originality and complexity with audience appeal. Women composers Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, Amy Beach, Cecile Chaminade, Ethel Smyth, and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich are now included. Though each has been given only one paragraph, it is valuable to see them placed in the context of their contemporaries and their predecessors. Schonberg writes for the lay reader. His intention is to humanize the composers and the writing, always highly readable, emphasizes biographical information rather than musical analysis. Recommended for all public and academic libraries.Kate McCaffrey, Onondaga Cty. P.L., Syracuse, N.Y.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393014037
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/1/1981
  • Edition number: 65
  • Pages: 653

Meet the Author

Harold C. Schonberg, senior New York Times music critic for twenty years, was the first in his field to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism (1971). He is the author of many articles and eight books, including one on chess. Schonberg lives in New York City.

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Table of Contents

Preface 13
1 Pioneer of Opera: Claudio Monteverdi 21
2 Transfiguration of the Baroque: Johann Sebastian Bach 36
3 Composer and Impresario: George Frideric Handel 55
4 Reformer of Opera: Christoph Willibald Gluck 71
5 Classicism par excellence: Joseph Haydn 81
6 Prodigy from Salzburg: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 95
7 Revolutionary from Bonn: Ludwig van Beethoven 111
8 Poet of Music: Franz Schubert 124
9 Freedom and a New Language: Weber and the Early Romantics 138
10 Romantic Exuberance and Classic Restraint: Hector Berlioz 152
11 Florestan and Eusebius: Robert Schumann 169
12 Apotheosis of the Piano: Frederic Chopin 183
13 Virtuoso, Charlatan - and Prophet: Franz Liszt 197
14 Bourgeois Genius: Felix Mendelssohn 211
15 Voice, Voice, and More Voice: Rossini, Donizetti, Bellini 222
16 Spectacle, Spectacle, and More Spectacle: Meyerbeer, Cherubini, Auber 236
17 Colossus of Italy: Giuseppe Verdi 249
18 Colossus of Germany: Richard Wagner 268
19 Keeper of the Flame: Johannes Brahms 289
20 Master of the Lied: Hugo Wolf 303
21 Waltz, Can-Can, and Satire: Strauss, Offenbach, Sullivan 310
22 Faust and French Opera: From Gounod to Saint-Saens 329
23 Russian Nationalism and the Mighty Five: From Glinka to Rimsky-Korsakov 345
24 Surcharged Emotionalism: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky 366
25 From Bohemia to Spain: European Nationalists 378
26 Chromaticism and Sensibilite: From Franck to Faure 400
27 Only for the Theater: Giacomo Puccini 413
28 Romanticism's Long Coda: Richard Strauss 423
29 Religion, Mysticism, and Retrospection: Bruckner, Mahler, Reger 437
30 Symbolism and Impressionism: Claude Debussy 452
31 Gallic Elegance and the New Breed: Maurice Ravel and Les Six 466
32 The Chameleon: Igor Stravinsky 479
33 The English Renaissance: Elgar, Delius, Vaughan Williams 492
34 Mysticism and Melancholy: Scriabin and Rachmaninoff 510
35 Under the Soviets: Prokofiev and Shostakovich 525
36 German Neoclassicism: Busoni, Weill, Hindemith 538
37 Rise of an American Tradition: From Gottschalk to Copland 548
38 The Uncompromising Hungarian: Bela Bartok 567
39 The Second Viennese School: Schoenberg, Berg, Webern 578
40 The International Serial Movement: From Varese to Messiaen 595
41 The New Eclecticism: From Carter to the Minimalists 610
General Bibliography 621
Index 637
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