An illuminating new biography of one of the most beloved of all composers, published on the hundredth anniversary of his death, brilliantly written by a finalist for the 1996 National Book Critics Circle Award. Johannes Brahms has consistently eluded his biographers. Throughout his life, he attempted to erase traces of himself, wanting his music to be his sole legacy. Now, in this masterful book, Jan Swafford, critically acclaimed as both biographer and composer, takes a fresh look at Brahms, giving us for the first time a fully realized portrait of the man who created the magnificent music. Brahms was a man with many friends and no intimates, who experienced triumphs few artists achieve in their lifetime. Yet he lived with a relentless loneliness and a growing fatalism about the future of music and the world. The Brahms that emerges from these pages is not the bearded eminence of previous biographies but rather a fascinating assemblage of contradictions. Brought up in poverty, he was forced to play the piano in the brothels of Hamburg, where he met with both mental and physical abuse. At the same time, he was the golden boy of his teachers, who found themselves in awe of a stupendous talent: a miraculous young composer and pianist, poised between the emotionalism of the Romantics and the rigors of the composers he worshipped--Bach, Mozart, Beethoven. In 1853, Robert Schumann proclaimed the twenty-year-old Brahms the savior of German music. Brahms spent the rest of his days trying to live up to that prophecy, ever fearful of proving unworthy of his musical inheritance. We find here more of Brahms's words, his daily life and joys and sorrows, than in any other biography. With novelistic grace, Swafford shows us a warm-blooded but guarded genius who hid behind jokes and prickliness, rudeness and intractability with his friends as well as his enemies, but who was also a witty drinking companion and a consummate careerist skillfully courting the powerful. This is a book rich in secondary characters as well, including Robert Schumann, declining into madness as he hailed the advent of a new genius; Clara Schumann, the towering pianist, tormented personality, and great love of Brahms's life; Josef Joachim, the brilliant, self-lacerating violinist; the extraordinary musical amateur Elisabet von Herzogenberg, on whose exacting criticism Brahms relied; Brahms's rival and shadow, the malevolent genius Richard Wagner; and Eduard Hanslick, enemy of Wagner and apostle of Brahms, at once the most powerful and most wrongheaded music critic of his time. Among the characters in the book are two great cities: the stolid North German harbor town of Hamburg where Johannes grew up, which later spurned him; and glittering, fickle, music-mad Vienna, where Brahms the self-proclaimed vagabond finally settled, to find his sweetest triumphs and his most bitter failures. Unique to this book is the way in which musical scholarship and biography are combined: in a style refreshingly free of pretentiousness, Jan Swafford takes us deep into the music--from the grandeur of the First Symphony and the intricacies of the chamber work to the sorrow of the German Requiem--allowing us to hear these familiar works in new and often surprising ways. This is a clear-eyed study of a remarkable man and a vivid portrait of an era in transition. Ultimately, Johannes Brahms is the story of a great, backward-looking artist who inspired musical revolutionaries of the following generations, yet who was no less a prophet of the darkness and violence of our century. A biographical masterpiece at once wholly original and definitive. From the Hardcover edition.
Jan Swafford’s biographies of Charles Ives and Johannes Brahms have established him as a revered music historian, capable of bringing his subjects vibrantly to life. His magnificent new biography of Ludwig van Beethoven peels away layers of legend to get to the living, breathing human being who composed some of the world’s most iconic music. Swafford mines sources never before used in English-language biographies to reanimate the revolutionary ferment of Enlightenment-era Bonn, where Beethoven grew up and imbibed the ideas that would shape all of his future work. Swafford then tracks his subject to Vienna, capital of European music, where Beethoven built his career in the face of critical incomprehension, crippling ill health, romantic rejection, and “fate’s hammer,” his ever-encroaching deafness. Throughout, Swafford offers insightful readings of Beethoven’s key works. More than a decade in the making, this will be the standard Beethoven biography for years to come.
Author: Jan Swafford
Publisher: Hachette UK
Release Date: 2017-04-11
For many of us, classical music is something serious-something we study in school, something played by cultivated musicians at fancy gatherings. In Language of the Spirit, renowned music scholar Jan Swafford argues that we have it all wrong: classical music has something for everyone and is accessible to all. Ranging from Gregorian chant to Handel's Messiah, from Vivaldi's The Four Seasons to the postmodern work of Philip Glass, Swafford is an affable and expert guide to the genre. He traces the history of Western music, introduces readers to the most important composers and compositions, and explains the underlying structure and logic of their music. Language of the Spirit is essential reading for anyone who has ever wished to know more about this sublime art.
Offers information on the American composer Charles Ives (1874-1954), presented as part of the Contemporary Classical Music Archive of the Eyeneer Music Archives. Includes a biographical sketch of Ives and a discography of recordings of his compositions for string quartets and songs.
Author: Jan Swafford
Publisher: Edizioni Mondadori
Release Date: 2018-06-19
Sono in molti a pensare che la musica classica sia qualcosa di troppo serio, qualcosa che si studia a scuola o al conservatorio e che si ascolta eseguita da compassati musicisti in circostanze eleganti ed esclusive. E sono in molti a ritenere che in fondo sia solo una questione di tecnica, di esercizio ostinato, di dedizione assoluta, appannaggio di geni solitari e piacere riservato a raffinati e incanutiti intenditori. Che la musica classica sia tutto questo è indubbiamente vero. Ma è altrettanto vero che è anche molto, molto di più. Per Jan Swafford, musicologo, compositore e autore di importanti monografie su Brahms e Beethoven, essa è il linguaggio attraverso il quale esprimiamo i nostri sentimenti più profondi, lo specchio che riflette le infinite sfumature della vita e del sogno, del sacro e del mistero. Che sia prodotta soffiando in un flauto ricavato dalla zanna di un mammut, scritta nella quiete di una corte barocca o composta sotto l'incedere pauroso della guerra o della follia, la musica rivela ciò che di sublime e di ripugnante, di eccelso e di banale alberga nell'animo umano. Una speciale forma di comunicazione, quindi, il cui impatto emotivo e intellettuale non finisce di sorprenderci. Dal canto gregoriano alla dodecafonia di Schönberg, dalle soavi opere di Mozart al minimalismo di Philip Glass, dai madrigali di Monteverdi alle sinfonie di Haydn e ai Lieder di Schubert, con Il linguaggio dello spirito Swafford ripercorre la storia della musica occidentale, la sua continua evoluzione, la sua capacità di assimilare idee, voci e stili diversi e di reinventarsi ogni volta. Si sofferma sulle innovazioni - la notazione, la polifonia, il temperamento equabile, l'atonalità ecc. - spiegandone il significato e l'importanza dal punto di vista tecnico oltre che artistico. Ci presenta compositori e brani, quasi sempre sotto una luce assolutamente inedita, in cui l'artista esce dal mito per entrare nella storia, una storia spesso fatta di sofferenze e rinunce, incomprensioni e fallimenti. Ci offre eccellenti suggerimenti per l'ascolto, indicandoci registrazioni imprescindibili, memorabili esecuzioni o semplicemente brani poco noti eppure straordinari. E tutto in uno stile ironico, talvolta irriverente, non convenzionale, partigiano, unico. Per chiunque voglia accostarsi a quest'arte sublime, Il linguaggio dello spirito è una lettura fondamentale.
Author: David Pogue
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
Release Date: 2016-03-23
Klassik ist altmodisch und langweilig - das sind nur zwei von vielen Vorurteilen ï¿1⁄2ber klassische Musik. David Pogue und Scott Speck zeigen Ihnen, dass das ganz und gar nicht der Fall ist. Sie bringen Ihnen unterhaltsam und informativ die Musikgeschichte vom Mittelalter bis heute nahe: die bedeutendsten Komponisten, ihre wichtigsten Stï¿1⁄2cke und die spannendsten Anekdoten. Darï¿1⁄2ber hinaus erfahren Sie alles ï¿1⁄2ber die verschiedenen Instrumente und ihre Rolle im Orchester. Ein wenig nï¿1⁄2tzliche Musiktheorie und ein kleiner Konzert-Knigge runden das Buch ab. Ein Rundumwohlfï¿1⁄2hlbuch fï¿1⁄2r Neulinge in der Welt der Klassik.
Author: Alex Ross
Publisher: Piper ebooks
Release Date: 2017-04-03
Eine glänzende Erzählung lässt uns die Geschichte des 20. Jahrhunderts über seine Musik neu erleben. Alex Ross, Kritiker des »New Yorker«, bringt uns aus dem Wien und Graz am Vorabend des Ersten Weltkriegs ins Paris und Berlin der Goldenen Zwanzigerjahre, aus Hitler-Deutschland über Russland ins Amerika der Sechziger- und Siebzigerjahre. Er führt uns durch ein labyrinthisches Reich, von Jean Sibelius bis Lou Reed, von Gustav Mahler bis Björk. Und wir folgen dem Aufstieg der Massenkultur wie der Politik der Massen, den dramatischen Veränderungen durch neue Techniken genauso wie den Kriegen, Experimenten, Revolutionen und Aufständen der zurückliegenden 100 Jahre. »Eine unwiderstehliche Einladung, sich mit den großen Themen des 20. Jahrhunderts zu beschäftigen.« Fritz Stern
The essays assembled in this volume grew out of a conference held at Cornell University in November 2001. The goal of the conference was to examine the claim that the city-state of Hamburg had a unique status in the cultural landscape of eighteenth and nineteenth-century Germany, a status based upon the city's republican political constitution. Hamburg's independence and its tolerant and cosmopolitan political traditions made it a focal point for progressive cultural developments during the period of the Enlightenment and after. The contributions collected here transcend traditional disciplinary boundaries by giving equal attention to literature, music, and theater, as well as to architecture and city planning. Key essays address the role that figures as diverse as C. P. E. Bach, Lessing, Klopstock, Heine, Brahms, and Thomas Mann played in shaping Hamburg's exceptional quality as a center of culture. This volume will be of interest not only to scholars doing research on Hamburg, but also to anyone with an interest in the cultural history of eighteenth, nineteenth, and early twentieth-century Germany.