From Bach to Stravinsky: The History of Music by Its Foremost Critics

From Bach to Stravinsky: The History of Music by Its Foremost Critics

From Bach to Stravinsky: The History of Music by Its Foremost Critics

From Bach to Stravinsky: The History of Music by Its Foremost Critics

Excerpt

This book is designed to present the history of music from the eighteenth century to the present day, with the emphasis on the composers themselves, their works, their lives, their personalities. Unlike other histories of music, its concern is only secondarily with the development of composition in form, fabric, and technique: its primary aim is to introduce the reader to an understanding of each great composer, through the critic best suited, by temperament and scholarship, to a broad interpretation and appreciation of his individual genius.

The editor has made no attempt to produce an anthology of music criticism. Much of the distinguished critical writing of the past loses its force for the reader to-day, because the issues with which it was controversially concerned are no longer alive; criticism of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century composers by their contemporaries bristles with partisanship and with predictions which have not been fulfilled. It has therefore seemed wisest to confine the selections dealing with these composers to articles written during the last thirty years, in which enthusiasms and reservations are less personal and consequently more valuable.

Inevitably the basis of selection will be questioned; the editor should therefore explain that his chief purpose has been to include every composer, within the period covered, who is universally recognized to be of the first importance. It was not possible without greatly expanding the limits of the book to represent in individual chapters composers of smaller genius, such as Gluck and Fauré; or composers of specific national importance, such as Dvořak, Smetana, Grieg, Sibelius. Instead, it has seemed advisable to group these in a number of introductory and transitional chapters (I, II, VIII, XIV, XVIII, and XX), covering as far as possible the important's schools of composition. This applies also to the composers of the romantic movement: Weber, Mendelssohn, Liszt, Berlioz.

Likewise, it is impossible for a book of this kind to come strictly up to date. In every country the history of music continues to be made, but criticism has not yet nominated the giants of the future. Bearing in mind . . .

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