The Symphony: A Listener's Guide

Overview

Enriched by biographical detail, historical background, musical examples, and many finely nuanced observations, this volume is a treasury of insight and information. Readers will find illuminating discussion of the complete symphonies of Beethoven, Schumann, Brahms, Elgar, Sibelius, and Mahler, as well as of the most loved symphonic works of Schubert, Bruckner, Dvorak, Tchaikovsky, Vaughan Williams, Prokofiev, and others.

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Overview

Enriched by biographical detail, historical background, musical examples, and many finely nuanced observations, this volume is a treasury of insight and information. Readers will find illuminating discussion of the complete symphonies of Beethoven, Schumann, Brahms, Elgar, Sibelius, and Mahler, as well as of the most loved symphonic works of Schubert, Bruckner, Dvorak, Tchaikovsky, Vaughan Williams, Prokofiev, and others.

Enriched by biographical details, historical background, musical examples, and many finely nuanced observations, this volume is a treasury of insight and information, discussing some 118 works by 36 major composers, including generous coverage of American composers. 50 musical examples.

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Editorial Reviews

Washington Post
The Symphony may be recommended warmly to music lovers on all levels of interest and expertise. . . . The writing is wonderfully clear, personal, and specific.
Library Journal
Critic, lecturer, and program annotator Steinberg describes 36 composers and, movement by movement, 118 symphonies, including all the standard repertory regularly programmed by North American orchestras as well as a few by less well known composers such as Gorecki, Harbison, Martinu, and Sessions. The writing varies from formal and factual to chatty, with candid asides and stories relevant to the composer, the composition, or an important performance. The information is on the level of good program notes (the origin of most of it), although reader familiarity with some basic musical technical terms is assumed. A well-written, informative introduction to the repertory for most music collections.Timothy J. McGee, Univ. of Toronto
Alan Hirsch
Here's a treat for those addicted to reading the program notes before the concert begins. They will find that Steinberg has done for symphonies what Milton Cross did for operas. These essays, based on program notes Steinberg wrote for the Boston and San Francisco orchestras during the past 20 years, combine insight into a composer's personality and times with thorough analysis of the music, and their coverage ranges from the complete symphonies of cornerstone composers Beethoven, Brahms, and Mahler to selected symphonies of such moderns as Copland, Sessions, Harbison, Tippett, and Piston. They offer both the concertgoer and the audiophile the chance to study a symphony from a point of view that is more personal than that of most recording liner notes. Many a reader will keenly anticipate Steinberg's next volume, which will give concertos similar treatment.
From the Publisher
"The Symphony may be recommended warmly to music lovers on all levels of interest and expertise.... The writing is wonderfully clear, personal, and specific." —The Washington Post

"Lucid, witty, and composed by a master stylist, Steinberg's essays offer a magnificent blend of biographical detail, accessible musical analysis, subjective reflection, and entertaining whimsy. Whether he is guiding a reader through the intricacies of a Mahler symphony, unearthing new treasures in a familiar Beethoven score or correlating the strange performance history of Charles Ives's symphonies with his own concert-going life, Steinberg's writing is both authoritative and deeply personal. His immense knowledge of music, and the ease with which he deploys it, have made him the acknowledged master of this particular form."—San Francisco Chronicle

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195061772
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 12/28/1995
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 678
  • Product dimensions: 9.50 (w) x 6.50 (h) x 2.09 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Steinberg is the program annotator of the San Francisco Symphony and the New York Philharmonic and earlier served the Boston Symphony in the same capacity. He has been on the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music and the New England Conservatory, has lectured and taught widely in America and Europe, and was the music critic for The Boston Globe for twelve years.

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