The Symphony: A Listener's Guide / Edition 1

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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, Sibelius, and Mahler, as well as of the most loved symphonic works of Schubert, Bruckner, Dvorak, Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, and others. We learn how to listen more sharply for Haydn's humor, to Mozart's singular combination of pathos with grace, and to the evolution of Beethoven's musical ideas in his nine symphonies. This remarkable range and variety of composers are illuminated by Steinberg's deft, inviting, and intensely personal essays, which give such a vivid portrait of each composer's personality that the reader gets an immediate sense of how the work is a direct expression of the person from whose soul and brain it has sprung.
Tracing the ways in which composers have dealt with the musical challenges that have engaged them throughout the centuries, Steinberg takes us through the revolutions of expression, sound, and form that have shaped the symphony's remarkable history. Whether beginners or veterans, music lovers will listen to the symphony with enlivened interest and deeper understanding with Steinberg's masterful guide in hand.

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

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

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
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195126655
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 12/28/1998
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 704
  • Sales rank: 806,904
  • Lexile: 1380L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 6.10 (h) x 1.90 (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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