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Music and Sentiment [Hardcover]

Charles Rosen
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
RRP: 18.99
Price: 18.59 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

18 May 2010
How does a work of music stir the senses, creating feelings of joy, sadness, elation or nostalgia? Though sentiment and emotion play a vital role in the composition, performance and appreciation of music, rarely have these elements been fully observed. In this succinct and penetrating book, Charles Rosen draws upon more than a half century as a performer and critic to reveal how composers from Bach to Berg have used sound to represent and communicate emotion in mystifyingly beautiful ways. Through a range of musical examples, Rosen details the array of stylistic devices and techniques used to represent or convey sentiment. This is not, however, a listener's guide to any 'correct' response to a particular piece. Instead, Rosen provides the tools and terms with which to appreciate this central aspect of musical aesthetics, and indeed explores the phenomenon of contradictory sentiments embodied in a single motif or melody. Taking examples from Chopin, Schumann, Wagner and Liszt, he traces the use of radically changing intensities in the Romantic works of the nineteenth century and devotes an entire chapter to the key of C minor. He identifies a 'unity of sentiment' in Baroque music and goes on to contrast it with the 'obsessive sentiments' of later composers including Puccini, Strauss and Stravinsky. A profound and moving work, 'Music and Sentiment' is an invitation to a greater appreciation of the crafts of composition and performance.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (18 May 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300126409
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300126402
  • Product Dimensions: 21.9 x 14.9 x 1.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 503,358 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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`This book is definitely worth reading, and taking to heart.' --Brian Morton, The Tablet, 10th July 2010

`Rosen offers a compelling examination of the "power" that the great composers have exerted on our sensibilities.'
--New Statesman, 14th June 2010

`...refreshing to see a musical thinker of [this] quality tackling a topic once considered almost irrelevant to serious analytical study.' --Julian Haylock, International Piano, 1st September 2010

`...continuously reveals and explains the fantastic, largely unglimpsed, subtlety of music's expressive vocabulary...a revelation even to the musically illiterate.'
--Jeremy Siepmann, BBC Music Magazine, 1st September 2010

About the Author

Charles Rosen is a writer and pianist of international standing. He frequently reviews in 'The New York Review of Books' and his published volumes include 'The Classical Style: Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven'; 'The Romantic Generation'; 'Sonata Forms'; 'Romantic Poets, Critics and Other Madmen'; 'Critical Entertainments'; 'Beethoven's Piano Sonatas' (Yale, 2002); and 'Piano Notes'. As a pianist, he has performed and recorded a wide repertoire from Bach to Pierre Boulez, and has been invited by Stravinsky, Boulez and Elliott Carter to record and give first performances of their works. Among his best-known recordings are the last six sonatas and the Diabelli Variations of Beethoven.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Raises some questions 9 Oct 2010
I brought this book as it is recommended reading for a module of mine at university and I read it the day it arrived seeing as it is a short book. I would say it is reasonable, Rosen's style is readable and he is fairly succinct on some tricky areas. However, I think that some of his opinions are presented rather too much as fact (so read with a cautious mind) and some of the analysis of the function of certain harmonies seems just plain wrong on inspection of the examples in full score. That said this book does raise some interesting questions in the subject of musical aesthetics and as such is a good introductory read to the area. I would suggest that it would be better to borrow this from a library than buy it. It would seem to me that there is very little re-visitable content and the detail is very much lacking.
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4 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Music and Sentiment by Charles Rosen 22 Aug 2010
So far have found this book very interesting and thought provoking. Not what
I expected but very useful.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.8 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nothing new here 13 Aug 2010
By a customer - Published on
After having read and reread Rosen's "The Classical Style" and "The Romantic Generation" many times, I had very high hopes for this new book. Unfortunately, it did not live up to my expectations.

First of all, it is much too short. At only 141 pages, Rosen simply does not have space to discuss his subject in much depth. Secondly, there is little that is new in this book. Many of the musical examples he discusses in this book are analyzed much more thoroughly and satisfyingly in his earlier works, and many of his insights into how the expression of emotion through music has changed over the centuries can also be found in a more fleshed out form in his other books. The proportions of the book also reveal that Rosen is mostly writing about music that he has already written a lot about: one chapter on Baroque music, three chapters on Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven (the composers most discussed in "The Classical Style" and "Sonata Forms"), one chapter on the early Romantics (Chopin, Liszt, and Schumann, half of the composers discussed in "The Romantic Generation"), and one chapter on everything after them.

I also find that this book is simply not as well written as his others. While some may prefer Rosen's less dense and formal style in this book, I think that some of the rigor that is so key to his insights is lost. The book is also filled with contradictions and arguments with other music scholars over technical details. While such elements are not always bad provided that they are a source of insight, I did not find them to be so in this book. I suspect these problems may arise from the fact that this book was created from a series of lectures given by Rosen at the University of Indiana at Bloomington. While these chapters were probably wonderful lectures for the university students, I don't think they come together to make a convincing book.

Most disappointing, though, is the fact that he doesn't even write that much about emotion in music. Mostly, this book is an analysis in the way localized phrase structures evolved from the baroque through the early romantic period. In general, Rosen discusses only snippets of music, and refuses to address how large scale form contributes to the emotional impact of music. For me, much of the power of classical music comes from the way it can take me on a journey through many different emotions and thus create a sense of narrative drama. A refusal to discuss how different parts of a piece combine to create this sense of narrative is to me a refusal to discuss perhaps the most important way composers communicate emotions through music.

Charles Rosen's "The Classical Style" and "The Romantic Generation" are the best books on music that I have ever read, and I urge any lover of classical music who has not read them to do so. This one, however, you can skip.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars For the specialist 11 Oct 2010
By Robert Ginsberg - Published on
I am inclined to agree overall with the previous reviewer (A customer). I too revere Charles Rosen's books and his essays on music (mostly in the NYRB), but this book is a disappointment in that it does not really address its topic. Rosen explicitly rejects the idea that any musical device or effect can be said to have a specific nonmusical connotation, but he does not then go on to explain how music does affect the emotions. Or, to be fair, he shows how music does create effects (through structure, key relationships, musical motifs, harmonic texture, etc.) but he almost never says what the effect is. Toward the end (p. 133) he says, in a parenthesis "It is obvious, for example, that the similar slow movements of Beethoven's op. 10. no. 3 and op. 106 both represent grief and despair, and both are a Largo in 6/8, but the emotion is so different in the two cases that characterizing it amounts simply to giving a detailed description of a performance of each." But I do think that the difference between the two slow movements is precisely what the potential reader of this book would like to have explicated, and the book offers no help. One last point: the discussion is, as always with Rosen, fairly technical, and an understanding of musical notation and familiarity with the mechanics of tonal music and the technical vocabulary of musical analysis are helpful. For anyone who does have that background, this book will be informative and interesting, even if it doesn't fulfill the promise in its title.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Book in Great condition 19 Feb 2013
By Juanita M. Nellos - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Prompt delivery and book in great condition as described. Given as a gift and cannot say if she has enjoyed the book. Thank you
10 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly great book 15 July 2010
By dreamer - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The author raises an issue not discussed much earlier. The analysis and reasoning succeed in a brilliant way to a greater appreciation of music. Not a single line is uninteresting. Highly recommended!
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