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The Apollonian Clockwork: On Stravinsky (Amsterdam University Press - Amsterdam Archaeological Studie) Paperback – 9 Feb 2014


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  • Paperback: 316 pages
  • Publisher: Amsterdam University Press (9 Feb 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9053568565
  • ISBN-13: 978-9053568569
  • Product Dimensions: 14.6 x 2.5 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 844,037 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

If you have any abiding interest in 20th-century music, buy this book and read it at once. If music as culture means anything to you, buy this book. It made so little splash the first time around that I've hardly run into anyone who's aware of it. But any composer living would give his left arm to be assured that so witty, wise, creative, simpatico, and insightful a book would be written about him after his death. Richard Taruskin has aptly called it The one book about Stravinsky Stravinsky would have liked." And, thanks to an editorial miracle, it has reappeared after some 15 years' unforgivable absence."[-][-]Kyle Gann - Village Voice

From the Inside Flap

'I think my music deserves to be considered as a whole', merkte Igor Stravinsky aan het eind van een lange en rusteloze componistenloopbaan op en dat is precies wat de auteurs van The Apollonian Clockwork doen. In de overtuiging dat er geen wezenlijk verschil bestaat tussen de vroege en late Stravinsky, schreven Louis Andriessen en Elmer Schönberge

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Richard Leigh on 9 Jan 2013
Format: Paperback
I can hardly express how pleased I am to see this book back in print. I managed to find a second-hand copy (which raises the question: how could anyone bear to part with it?) so I don't intend to buy the reprint. (If my home caught fire, this is one of the first things I'd try to save.) But everyone else should buy it, immediately. As has been observed, it's best to see it as a collection of short essays, every one of which has something new to tell you - about Stravinsky, about music in general and how we hear, about the authors, about Dutch musical and intellectual life. I've read other books about Stravinsky: he's endlessly interesting. I think the (now very old) book by Eric Walter White is a very useful book, with its biographical outline and a thorough list of works. I think Stephen Walsh's two-volume study is excellent, too. But I'd recommend this book above all others: it will compel you to listen again to everything. How has Andriessen found the time to compose so much music and get to know Stravinsky's so well? I only wish the book were cheaper, so that more people could get to it. Here's a thought, partly prompted by this book: that American minimalism is inspired by Coltrane, Dutch minimalism by Stravinsky. If that idea utterly discredits me as a source of opinions, so be it. So sell, if funds are low after Christmas, your pile of Part and your heap of Schnittke, to raise the money. Grab this book before it goes out of print again.
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I bought this for my son, a PhD in music and a big 'fan' of Stravinsky. He loves it. He first read it in his student days and is enjoying just as much the second time around.
One tip if you really want a copy: don't order it from Amazon. We did and after waiting 3 months ordered it from a market place seller who got us a copy in a couple of weeks so we were able to cancel the Amazon order.
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Format: Paperback
THE APOLLONIAN CLOCKWORK was originally published in the Netherlands in 1983, and the English translation was published in 1989. The authors, Louis Andriessen and Elmer Schonberger, are both Dutch composers (Schonberger is also a musicologist and critic), and are clearly both steeped in and enamoured of Stravinsky:

"The authors' decision to collaborate on this book arose not only from a shared love of Stravinsky's music, but from an agreement on a few fundamental points: that there is no essential difference between early and late Stravinsky; that the familiar division of his works into 'Russian', 'neoclassical', and 'serial' periods more often obscures rather than clarifies the music; and that the distinction commonly made between 'arrangements' and 'original compositions' is not pertinent to Stravinsky. What they heard in the music was that all his works have been composed from an immutable musical *mentality*." (xiii)

The book, not one linear narrative but rather 45 interconnected essays, vignettes on various aspects of Stravinsky's music, life and context, is "a paradigm of Stravinsky" in its *drobnost* structure (splinteredness -- from Taruskin).

Stravinsky's sensibility is captured in a quote from D.C. Muecke's "Irony": "There is yet another feature of irony which appears regularly in discussions of irony. We can choose from among a number of terms: detachment, distance, disengagement, freedom, serenity, objectivity, dispassion, 'lightness', 'play', urbanity." The authors go on to say: "It cannot be coincidence that precisely these terms (or their pejorative counterparts: lack of feeling, coldness, superficiality, etc.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 2 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
45 urbane, ironic essays -- "a paradigm of Stravinsky" 8 Sep 2010
By Autonomeus - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
THE APOLLONIAN CLOCKWORK was originally published in the Netherlands in 1983, and the English translation was published in 1989. The authors, Louis Andriessen and Elmer Schonberger, are both Dutch composers (Schonberger is also a musicologist and critic), and are clearly both steeped in and enamoured of Stravinsky:

"The authors' decision to collaborate on this book arose not only from a shared love of Stravinsky's music, but from an agreement on a few fundamental points: that there is no essential difference between early and late Stravinsky; that the familiar division of his works into 'Russian', 'neoclassical', and 'serial' periods more often obscures rather than clarifies the music; and that the distinction commonly made between 'arrangements' and 'original compositions' is not pertinent to Stravinsky. What they heard in the music was that all his works have been composed from an immutable musical *mentality*." (xiii)

The book, not one linear narrative but rather 45 interconnected essays, vignettes on various aspects of Stravinsky's music, life and context, is "a paradigm of Stravinsky" in its *drobnost* structure (splinteredness -- from Taruskin).

Stravinsky's sensibility is captured in a quote from D.C. Muecke's "Irony": "There is yet another feature of irony which appears regularly in discussions of irony. We can choose from among a number of terms: detachment, distance, disengagement, freedom, serenity, objectivity, dispassion, 'lightness', 'play', urbanity." The authors go on to say: "It cannot be coincidence that precisely these terms (or their pejorative counterparts: lack of feeling, coldness, superficiality, etc.) rate highly in the descriptions of Stravinsky's music. Stravinsky is first and foremost an ironic buffo-composer, no matter how serious the music may get. But his good humour is not carefree." (219-220)

In this light, there is a priceless photo on page 51 of Stravinsky face-to-face with a giraffe, seemingly carrying on a conversation. This accompanies a chapter called "Zoonology" which is about the many and various animals that appear in Stravinsky's music. Of Stravinsky himself, the authors conclude, "[h]e reminds one of the Cheshire Cat in "Alice in Wonderland", whose grin 'remained some time after the rest of it had gone'." (54)

Speaking of animals, the authors' wit is illustrated by their anology of Stravinsky as a wasp in his 1942 book of essays "Poetique musicale", based on six lectures delivered at Harvard in 1939:

"The Stravinsky of 'Poetique' is like a wasp who tries to remove its own sting, who says it will not harm a fly, or better, thinks it *is* a fly, a responsible, hard-working, cultivated, reasonable fly that believes in a Supreme Fly, but a fly that, oh dear, is continually being hit by the fly-swatter, first from the right, now from the left." (84) Stravinsky, the musical revolutionary of "Le sacre", did not want to be considered a revolutionary!

Many think that with his "neoclassical" phase Stravinsky ceased to be a revolutionary, a view the authors emphatically reject. They quote Friedrich Blume, who says the classical artistic attitude "leaves the finding of some content in this form to the listener's power of imagination," as opposed to Romanticism, which imputes to music "concrete content, condemning the listener to passivity." The authors then go on to say that "[c]lassicism is radical. It manifests itself in art as avant-garde and defines the attitude of the artist who holds back, distances his work from the audience, withholds information ... Stravinsky's classicism is always slightly irritating, the music is unfinished ... But it cannot be emphasized enough: renewal is concealed in the old. It hides itself. Only a sharp sleuth will discover it and thereby change history." (101)

And finally, on the great Stravinsky-Schoenberg battle, regarding Stravinsky's use of the 12-tone method after Schoenberg's death: "The Viennese School was history, that was the crux. And the Viennese School were always the others, the representatives of 'Mitteleuropa', separated from him by a 'gigantic abyss', the kind of abyss that cannot be bridged. 'The principle of developing variation that led to the twelve-tone technique and at the same time legitimized it, is known just as little in the serial scores of Stravinsky as in his earlier scores,' wrote Adorno, who detested Stravinsky but who sometimes had a clear insight into his music." (119)

This is a fantastically enjoyable read, a glimpse into the Stravinsky universe that conveys in its light, ironic tone and splintered structure the essence of his "immutable musical mentality."

For a more standard treatment of Stravinsky that focuses on the nature of his innovations and his influence on later 20th Century composers, see The Stravinsky Legacy by Jonathan Cross.

(verified library loan)
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A brilliant and playful analysis of Stravinsky's work 3 Mar 2008
By AB - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I love this book! I read a single chapter every week. It is not difficult reading but the ideas are so provocative that I needed time to digest them. For anyone interested in a creative and non-dogmatic approach to understanding the compositional process of one of the greatest composers of all time, this is the book. Did I mention that I love it?
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