Magazine article American Music Teacher

Choral Monuments: Studies of Eleven Choral Masterworks

Magazine article American Music Teacher

Choral Monuments: Studies of Eleven Choral Masterworks

Article excerpt

Choral Monuments: Studies of Eleven Choral Masterworks, by Dennis Shrock. Oxford University Press, 2017.; 464 pp. $55.00.

Choral Monuments is a well written, scholarly treatise on 11 choral master-works from the five major historical eras in Western culture--from Josquin des Prez's Missa Pange Lingua through Benjamin Britten's War Requiem.

Shrock delves into the lives of each composer to paint a picture of his choral work--from whence it came and how the composer's life, background and musical output influence this particular composition. All but one of these works, Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, are sacred. This aspect is unique in that many of these composers wrote predominantly secular works (that is Brahms, Verdi, Handel, Stravinsky).

Shrock gives a compositional overview of each work as well as important compositional characteristics including imitation, ostinatos, accents and metric changes. He discusses various structures of music along with several composers' utilization of parody techniques within their compositions.

One gains a great knowledge of the Mass in its various forms--the Catholic Mass and its relationship to the Papacy as well as the Counter-Reformation, Bach's Lutheran Masses and the Requiem Mass.

Shrock digs into the form and musical structures of each piece. He presents Handel's compositional process--his speed of writing and revision of his works. He presents interesting choral elements from the early a cappella renaissance singing to the 19th and 20th centuries' usage of large choruses and orchestras. …

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