The Life of Music: New Adventures in the Western Classical Tradition

The Life of Music: New Adventures in the Western Classical Tradition

by Nicholas Kenyon


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Nicholas Kenyon explores the enduring appeal of the classical canon at a moment when we can access all music—across time and cultures

“Nicholas Kenyon is an amiable and enthusiastic guide to a thousand years of classical music.”—Neil Fisher, The Times

“A wonderfully engaging survey. . . . It is what every music lover needs close by. . . . We are left in no doubt about music’s extraordinary power.”—Ian Thomson, Financial Times

Immersed in music for much of his life as writer, broadcaster and concert presenter, former director of the BBC Proms, Nicholas Kenyon has long championed an astonishingly wide range of composers and performers. Now, as we think about culture in fresh ways, Kenyon revisits the stories that make up the classical tradition and foregrounds those which are too often overlooked. This inclusive, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic guide highlights the achievements of the women and men, amateurs and professionals, who bring music to life.

Taking us from pianist Myra Hess’s performance in London during the Blitz, to John Adams’s composition of a piece for mourners after New York’s 9/11 attacks, to Italian opera singers singing from their balconies amidst the 2020 pandemic, Kenyon shows that no matter how great the crisis, music has the power to bring us together. His personal, celebratory account transforms our understanding of how classical music is made—and shows us why it is more relevant than ever.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780300223828
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 06/08/2021
Pages: 360
Sales rank: 309,491
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Nicholas Kenyon is Managing Director at London's Barbican Centre. Formerly, he was Director of the BBC Proms and Controller of BBC Radio 3. He is a music critic and the author of books including Simon Rattle: From Birmingham to Berlin.

Table of Contents

List of Plates vii

Acknowledgements xii

Prelude in a Crisis xiii

1 Sound and Notes 1

2 Ritual 13

3 Chant 25

4 Minstrels 37

5 New Arts 49

6 Craftsmen 65

7 Professionals 85

8 Singers 101

9 Masters 124

10 Symphonists 136

11 Individuals 151

12 Virtuosi 162

13 Music-drama 175

14 Reinvention 190

15 Homelands 205

16 Revolutions 222

17 New Worlds 235

18 Diversity 245

Coda: Performing the Future 263

100 Great Works by 100 Great Composers in 100 Great Performances 270

Further Reading 289

Index 295

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