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Brian Ferneyhough: Collected Writings (Contemporary Music Studies) Paperback – 2 Sep 1997


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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (2 Sept. 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 3718655772
  • ISBN-13: 978-3718655779
  • Product Dimensions: 24.4 x 2.8 x 17 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,975,421 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Wieland Hoban on 15 Nov. 1999
Format: Paperback
Considering the densely-formed structures underyling Fernyeyhough's works and the highly individual, sometimes inaccessible aesthetic contexts he develops, such a book as this is a true revelation for anyone seriously interested in his music. Containing analyses of his own works, a few on other works (Webern, Finnissy and Ruggles), essays and a substantial collection of interviews, it can act as a handbook for those seeking a foothold in a world which requires one in order to truly find insights into it.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4 reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Articulate and as lucid as committment to complexity allows 29 Dec. 1999
By scarecrow - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Contemporary Music Studies, Harwood Academic Publishers have done an admirable job in publishing annual seminal works from a wide spectrum of contemporary musical thought,showing no proclivities. From Eisler, Peter Schat,,Bruno Maderna, Pierre Boulez and neglected Charles Koechlin. Here Ferneyhough brings us right to his writing desk and we learn how he constructs his multi-dimensional musical concoctions. Much of it has been material provided elsewhere,but who reads it or can recall its source,from program notes and seminal interviews with Paul Griffiths, James Boros and Richard Toop, those who have followed Mr. Ferneyhough's career, and were there at the birth. Well documented here are the four string Quartet. And since the quartet is, or has been considered as special creative preserve, Ferneyhough's thought is well focused, giving us, rendering his aesthetic battle-plans for each. Some like the Third Quartet was more lucid and facile,greater surface discourse relatively speaking. There are also grist kinds of analysis, of Webern, token objects on the way toward discovery,but analysis frequently point toward the labyrinth of creativity What you value one place is sought after in another. We also extend into a life beyond just placing musical loci, notes on paper, Walter Benjamin is a great inspiration, and Ferneyhough has followed the intellectual currents of Europe, philosophic, and cultural to be able to place his creations within that discourse. He frequently solicits the visual world of painting for an agenda.Also Musical excerpts abound the pages , and the impeccable draftsmanship is a sensuous pleasure a gaze almost pornographic in its seductiveness.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
rich, complex-yet-illuminating discourse. . . 11 Oct. 2000
By "breitlin" - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Ferneyhough's writings are on music are some of the most rich and fascinating ever. This collection, which consists of articles, lectures, analysi, and interviews [which are exquisite!] give us insight into the views of a profound living composer -- with wonderful little brain tingles along the way! It's a shame that the book costs so much [check local university libraries], but I encourage people to get it any way they can. I cannot say enough about the integrity of these writings. . .
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Enlightening and useful 10 July 2006
By Steward Willons - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Brian Ferneyhough is seen by many as the face of the so-called "New Complexity" movement. It is important that one set aside any judgments on this aesthetic style before reading. This collection features a wide range of essays, interviews, analyses, and a nice list of compositions and a discography.

Initially, I wasn't sure what I thought about Ferneyhough. Certainly, as a student of musicology, I was fascinated by his amazingly dense scores - scores that qualify as art in their own right. However, as a musician, I'm not sure that taking the time to actually learn a Ferneyhough work - and learn it well - would be personally worth the effort. That said, reading a selection of these writings helped me understand and appreciate Ferneyhough in a new way. I found the studies of his own works helped me appreciate the musical ideas to a greater extent that was previously possible through my own brief analysis.

After reading a number of the essays this much is clear: Brian Ferneyhough is definitely an intellectual. Whether he is an artist also is up to you. I'm not totally sold on his (perhaps overly) cerebral aesthetics, but I found his writing to be enlightening, not just for his music, but for much late 20th century music. If you're reading this review, you're probably already aware of Ferneyhough's style. If you are fascinated by his originality or difficulty, this will be a rewarding read.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Rather hard-going but enlightening glimpse into this composer's goals and details of the works 24 Mar. 2013
By Christopher Culver - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The composer Brian Ferneyhough, (in)famous for his ultra-complex scores that cannot be realized entirely but drive performers to new levels of virtuosity, is an astute commentator both on his own music and that of others. In 1995, James Boros and Richard Toop oversaw the publication of this volume of Collected Writings, translating into English a number of items that had been published in foreign journals.

The book is divided into four sections: Essays (remarks on compositional and aesthetic matters), On His Own Works (descriptions of ten works from the 1970s and 1980 and the process of writing them), On the Works of Others (three pieces on Webern, Finnissy and Ruggles respectively) and Interviews (fourteen in all, ranging from 1977 to 1994).

My initial impression of the book is that Ferneyhough writes the same way his scores look. To quote just one representative paragraph:

"The immediate goal of this strategy was dual in nature: firstly, to point to that shadowy area which, in every work of art, separates overt realization and 'prehistory' (that of the genre and of the individual work) and conditions, in large part, the limits and density of discourse. Secondly, I aimed at suggesting ways of approaching and learning to converse with the complex chain of perceptual layerings which is situated between the listener and that still center of apprehension where the actively imaging and synthesizing ear comes to experience the elements of the work as *radiating out from it*, including it as an irreducible participating datum in the meaning-production of their motions."

Furthermore, besides writing highly "intellectual" music, Ferneyhough is keen to connect his work to other intellectuals. Walter Benjamin, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Adorno, Hegel and Elias Canetti are mentioned a number of times. Those who already suspect that Ferneyhough is a phoney will probably be turned off by this kind of talk and read no further.

But in fact, in spite of Ferneyhough's consistently highfaultin' way with words, what he writes always means something and it is not at all obfuscation for the sake of looking clever. Once you've got used to the writer's tone, this collection is helpful indeed in getting to grips with some daunting repertoire. I can now make sense of "Unity Capsule" (the score, at least) and can now detect the gestalts in the "Carceri d'invenzione" cycle. I understand now why Ferneyhough chose the texts he did for the String Quartet No. 4 and "On Stellar Magnitudes". I was also surprised to learn about Ferneyhough's activities as a poet -- the last interview in the book focuses exclusively on this and gives some example poems, which are inspired by the Gertrude Stein and the Language poets.

Two decades have passed since this volume was published, and Ferneyhough continues to write music and write about music. Hopefully an expanded second edition will appear someday. But for anyone interested in the works of the 1970s and 1980s, this is worth reading.
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