The Post-Classical Predicament: Essays on Music and Society

Joseph Horowitz, Author
Joseph Horowitz, Author Northeastern University Press $29.95 (224p) ISBN 978-1-55553-218-5
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Horowitz (Wagner Nights) is one of the few contemporary music critics who are also involved in the creation of music--in this case, as executive director of the Brooklyn Philharmonic. He therefore has an exceptionally keen sense of where serious music fits into America's cultural life, and the best of these pieces reflect it. He writes perceptively, for instance, of the facile ``midcult'' appeal of the Mozart movie Amadeus, compared to the real musical and dramatic points made by Ken Russell's much less highly regarded The Music Lovers, on Tchaikovsky. He subjects the career and iconic stature of Vladimir Horowitz to the same kind of piercing scrutiny he gave Toscanini's reputation in his book Understanding Toscanini. He is observant and sympathetic on the changes over the years in Leonard Bernstein as musical educator, and a brief essay on Nathan Milstein perfectly enshrines that aristocratic fiddler's appeal. Certain pieces, on the staging of Wagner, on the Viennese fin de siecle as reflected in Klimt and Mahler and on Dvorak's potential and actual impact on American music, are more specialized. Joseph Horowitz's wide-ranging interests, however, and his concerns with issues seldom explored, make any collection of his essential to a serious music-lover. Of the 13 pieces assembled here, two are original and the others are reprinted from the New York Times, Opera News, etc. (June)
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