Studies in Music with Text

Studies in Music with Text

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Hailed by the New Grove Dictionary of Music (2nd edition) as "the most original and far-ranging theorist of his generation," David Lewin (1933-2003) explored for over four decades how composers in the German tradition set poetry and drama to music. He conceived Studies in Music with Text as a unified collection, reproducing papers on music by Mozart, Schubert, Wagner, Schoenberg, and Babbitt, many of which have become classics in the fields of music theory and historical musicology. He also included new analytical essays on Mozart, Wagner, and Schubert, and provided fresh readings of selected songs by Clara Schumann, Robert Schumann, and Johannes Brahms. The analyses collected here focus on how the music, from its small details to its large formal schemes, engages the poetic and dramatic dynamics of the works at hand, and how music and text enact each other reciprocally. A recurrent topic is the theatricality of texted music for the concert as well as operatic stage, and Lewin's perspectives offer many interpretive insights and conceptual perspectives for the musical performer. A methodological eclectic, Lewin cultivated a magisterial command of historical theories and thought deeply about how those theories could inform contemporary understanding. Analytical models by Zarlino, Schenker, Riemann, Rameau, and Babbitt are brought into play, and the range of poetic and dramatic questions that emerge are explored, concerning inter alia psychological and social identity, the relation of psychological inner worlds to phenomenal reality, and the narrowly biographical and broadly historical conditions of artistic creation. As it illuminates the richness and profundity of the language/music partnership, Studies in Music with Text offers incisive thinking about the scope--and limitations--of descriptive and analytical discourse about music.
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Product details

  • Electronic book text | 422 pages
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • 1423762010
  • 9781423762010

Review quote

This volume comprises essays (some previously published) on the interrelationship of words and music in selected works by Mozart, Schubert, the Schumanns, Wagner, Brahms, Schoenberg, and Babbitt. The breadth of the late author's knowledge is, by itself, astonishing. A composer and a professor of music at Harvard, Lewin (1933-2003) is a widely recognized as one of he most important theorists of the 20th century. His wife, friends, and colleagues made sure that his final manuscript was brought to publication. It is a superb testimonial to his lifelong concern with text as an essential element of music deserving as much attention as the notes. Although these essays were written primarily for theorists, those passionate about singing, opera, or interdisciplinary approaches to music will find much here to interest them. Lewin's theory is never far from practice and his observations, cleanly argued, seem inevitable. --Choice
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About David Lewin

David Lewin taught composition at UC Berkeley and at SUNY Stony Brook, and later taught music theory at Yale and Harvard Universities. His music-theoretic writings include many articles and two previous books: Generalized Musical Intervals and Transformations (1987), and Musical Form and Transformation (1993). He was the recipient of honorary degrees from the University of Chicago and from the New England Conservatory of Music for his work in music theory.
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