Musical Meaning and Human Values / Edition 4

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Musical understanding has evolved dramatically in recent years, principally through a heightened appreciation of musical meaning in its social, cultural, and philosophical dimensions. This collection of essays by leading scholars addresses an aspect of meaning that has not yet received its due: the relation of meaning in this broad humanistic sense to the shaping of fundamental values. The volume examines the open and active circle between the values and valuations placed on music by both individuals and societies, and the discovery, through music, of what and how to value.

With a combination of cultural criticism and close readings of musical works, the contributors demonstrate repeatedly that to make music is also to make value, in every sense. They give particular attention to values that have historically enabled music to assume a formative role in human societies: to foster practices of contemplation, fantasy, and irony; to explore sexuality, subjectivity, and the uncanny; and to articulate longings for unity with nature and for moral certainty. Each essay in the collection shows, in its own way, how music may provoke transformative reflection in its listeners and thus help guide humanity to its own essential embodiment in the world.

The range of topics is broad and developed with an eye both to the historical specificity of values and to the variety of their possible incarnations. The music is both canonical and noncanonical, old and new. Although all of it is "classical," the contributors' treatment of it yields conclusions that apply well beyond the classical sphere. The composers discussed include Gabrieli, Marenzio, Haydn, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Wagner, Puccini, Hindemith, Schreker, and Henze.

Anyone interested in music as it is studied today will find this volume essential reading.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

. . . This interesting collection focuses on the inherent value and meaning within music and examines topics such as how music produces value and what the editors label 'moments of transformative reflection. . . An interesting and unusual collection indeed. Recommended.-B. L. Eden

This remarkable collection of essays, which grew out of a symposium on Lawrence Kramer's work, shares his bold vision of musicology as an enterprise rooted in the world of human interactions, alert to the historical constitution of meaning while avoiding historicist relativism. Although traditional aesthetics had linked works of art to human values by portraying the beautiful as a symbol of the morally good, these essays complicate that linkage by seeing the construction of values as a site of ambivalence and contestation. The interdisciplinary scope of the essays will appeal to readers far beyond the confines of any single field.-Kevin Korsyn

With star turn after star turn, Musical Meaning and Human Values unleashes a vast sprawl of keywords-Fantasy, Devotion, Performance, Eden, Evil, Law, Nature, Modernity-into an adventurous variety of musics and critical maneuvers, including close readings, open analyses, transdisciplinary encounters, Narratives Lost and Found. Rarely does a collection of essays so diverse stay so closely in tune with itself: the hermeneutic enterprise as realized by Lawrence Kramer over the past quarter century still exerts gravity enough to allow these lively spirits their multifarious orbits.-Scott Burnham

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780823230105
  • Publisher: Fordham University Press
  • Publication date: 8/15/2009
  • Edition description: 4
  • Edition number: 4
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

KEITH CHAPIN is Lecturer in Music History at the New Zealand School of Music. He is co-editor of Eighteenth-Century Music and an associate editor of Nineteenth-Century Music.

Lawrence Kramer is Professor of English and Music at Fordham University and the editor of Nineteenth-Century Music. He is also a composer. His many books range over the field of classical music from the eighteenth century to the present; recent titles include Why Classical Music Still Matters, Musical Meaning: Toward a Critical History, Walt Whitman and Modern Music, and Musical Meaning and Human Values (with Keith Chapin; Fordham, 2009).

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