The Philosopher's Stone: Essays in the Transformation of Musical Structure
The Philosopher's Stone is a collection of case studies in compositional process; not so much about how the music was arrived at through its sketch stages, but more a reconstruction of issues of form as the defining features of a genre, and structure as the individual realization in a particular work. Great musical movements and works are seen as highly creative solutions to problem-solving. The contexts of the works differ considerably. Some were written against the background of a specific precedent or model, as with Mozart's "Haydn" quartets via Haydn's op. 33 set. In other cases, as with Beethoven's middle period style, the composer reconsiders a comprehensive range of implications about style and construction, and wonders how, after earlier successes now outworn, to make a new and significant contribution to the genre without duplicating earlier solutions. The essays are grouped into three sections -- on Beethoven studies, on Mozart in retrospect, and on nineteenth century music. All the movements and works analyzed in these chapters pose in their different ways these issues of structural reinterpretation and re-formation, where the reworking of the form leads to a distinctive and higher level transformation. In ancient and Medieval alchemy, this was what the philosopher's stone -- as the agent of transmutation from base metal to gold -- was all about.
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