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LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - LibraryThing
I chose this book for very peculiar reasons. I am working on the Dewey Decimal challenge (likely a life-long attempt), and am always fascinated with the categories that are listed as no longer used or not assigned. The obsessive compulsive in me can't stand the thought of not filling out all one thousand labels. I noticed that this book satisfies one of these mystery spots, and it sounded readable to me. I decided to pick up the free ebook version and check it out. Rolland was a musical critic, and this book collects essays he wrote at the turn of the nineteenth century, with most of the essays from the end of the 1800's, and a few from the early 1900's. The majority of pieces focus on particular composers, such as Berlioz and Wagner, Vincent d'Indy and Debussy. Rolland merges his critique of their style, music, and impact on musical history with brief biological sketches. They are not biographical pieces, because he does trace the whole life of the musician, but focuses on episodes in their lives that pertain to the point he is making in his analysis. The end of the book features a few essays with a broader viewpoint, as he compares German music to French music, and then surveys French music, with an emphasis on how his country was gradually pulling itself out of a musical bankruptcy. He claims that France was on the brink of stepping forward as leaders in innovation and true musical creation, replacing the Germans. He ends with an accounting of the institutions that were most instrumental in pushing France forward, and a warning that they can not become complacent, or their momentum will stall before they manage to truly come into real musical leadership. I imagine that musicians, and especially people well-versed in musical history and composers, would find this book more interesting than I did. The composers Rolland writes about are his peers, people performing while he was still alive, so it must be fascinating to get a contemporary perspective on people that we currently study as masters of the past. Sadly, this is not my field of expertise. I like to listen to music, but I don't often listen to composers, and I have never played an instrument. I recognized few of the names in the book, and while I could understand the gist of his arguments, I frequently was unsure what he meant when he described musical technique in detail. He is clearly not writing for the lay person, but for others as invested in music as he was. For me, the result was that I was often indifferent to what I was reading, and felt cold about these topics that passionately stirred the writer. I am grateful to have learned more about a subject that is very undeveloped in my life, and I can now throw out some names of famous composers should the need ever arise, but the book was still a chore for me, with a very dry and academic tone typical of critical essays, and a subject matter that never fully grabbed my attention. This book could be a gem for some, but was a real trial of discipline in reading for me.
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The Project Gutenberg ebook of Musicians of To-Day, by Romain Rolland
The Project Gutenberg ebook of Musicians of To-Day, by Romain Rolland This ebook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no ...
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