The World of Great Composers

The World of Great Composers

The World of Great Composers

The World of Great Composers

Excerpt

The World of Great Composers was conceived to present a four- dimensional study of thirty-seven great composers--from Palestrina in the 16th century to Debussy on the threshhold of the 20th. Each composer is discussed in four sections. First, a brief biography provides the basic facts of the composer's life. This is followed by an intimate portrait of the composer as a man, usually by a contemporary or friend, but sometimes by later writers who have been remarkably skilful in separating the man from his music. An eminent musicologist then provides a critical analysis of the composers's work. Each section concludes with the composer speaking for himself--and sometimes about himself--bringing the reader an even more penetrating insight into the genius under discussion.

Since each composer lives most vibrantly in his music, the heart of the book lies in the critical evaluation of each composer's work. For this purpose, the editor has gathered into a single volume--and for the first time--some of the foremost musical scholars of the world. Usually, collective biographies of the great composers are written by a single critic, and are thus subject to the strengths and weaknesses, the penchants and prejudices of that writer. Since no single musicologist or critic--however capable--is sufficiently equipped, or for that matter sufficiently catholic in his tastes, to discuss every composer of the past with equal penetration, such one-man efforts often suffer appalling lapses of critical insight. After all, the Bach scholar is not likely to do as well by Tchaikovsky, nor is the Mahler authority usually able to do equal justice to Massenet. The editor, consequently, decided to have each of the thirty-seven composers discussed by the critic best suited by scholarship and temperament to . . .

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