Features essays covering a wide spectrum of classical and popular music topics.
Chapter 1 “A Musical Exemplum for Young Gentlewomen” examines Henry Purcell’s opera “Dido and Aeneas” (1689) and his adaptations of the classic love scene in Virgil’s epic to make it suitable for the young ladies of an elite Chelsea boarding school, offering an explanation why this composition fell into obscurity for many years after its initial premiere.
Chapter 2 “A Satirical Portrait Worth a Thousand Words” features a unique interpretation of Hogarth’s painting “The Levée” from his “Rake’s Progress” series—did Hogarth artistically depict the operatic tensions between Handel and the Italians in London during the 1730s?
Chapter 3 discusses the symphonies of Beethoven and how he portrayed reflections of his times, his hopes, dreams, struggles and philosophy through his music.
Chapter 4 “The Word Must Become the Deed” explores how Liszt with his “Faust Symphony” attempted to defy the critics who claimed that symphonic poems, which drew on literature or pictorial description, were not as sophisticated or noteworthy as absolute-music symphonies.
Chapter 5 “West Meets East” presents Debussy as an avant-garde composer who simply did not want to copy oriental music, but wished to embrace it, attempting to incorporate Eastern compositional techniques within mainstream Western tradition to create a completely new style for the modern age.
Chapter 6 ”Webber’s ´Phantom of the Opera’: An Example of the ‘Musical Theatre Renaissance´” attempts to demonstrate by comparison with Wagner’s operas that not all musicals are mere spectator entertainments, or simply operas with a different name, but are new sophisticated genres.
Batalha Publishers, August 13, 2010
Hardcover, 2nd Edition.
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The Beethoven Journal of the American Beethoven Society,
San José State University, (Summer 2003, vol. 18, issue 1)
Review by Patricia Stroh
(Focusing on Beethoven, Chapter Three)
"In "The Symphonies of Beethoven: Historical and Philosophical Reflections Through Music," Bucchianeri posits that Beethoven's symphonies reflect the composer's perception of his own world and his attitudes toward society and culture. That this perception changed over time is revealed by the stylistic progression of the works. Beethoven's earliest works in the genre contain elements of the "sublime," an aesthetic concept marked by grand concepts, powerful emotions, imagery, dignity, and elevation. Drawing on the philosophy of Edmund Burke, the author describes the sublime as "large and unfathomable, rough and rugged, terrifying and painful, without actually experiencing this intangible state." The opening movements of the first two symphonies show elements of the noble concept of the "sublime." In the Third and Fifth Symphonies Beethoven expanded on the sublime style to epic proportions; in the Sixth he integrated the concept that "all things sublime are both ancient and new, as in nature." By the Ninth, Beethoven turned to the concept of the sublime as unfathomable as the heavens. Here the author offers an interpretation of the Ninth in relation to Beethoven's character and philosophies. The book includes a select bibliography and an index for all of the essays."