Neoclassical Music in America Voices of Clarity and Restraint

Neoclassical Music in America
  • Engels
  • Hardcover
  • 9780810884397
  • Druk: 1
  • juli 2014
  • 300 pagina's
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From the 1920s to the 1950s, neoclassicism was one of the dominant movements in American music. Today this music is largely in eclipse, mostly absent in performance and even from accounts of music history, in spite of—and initially because of—its adherence to an expanded tonality. No previous book has focused on the nature and scope of this musical tradition. Neoclassical Music in America: Voices of Clarity and Restraint makes clear what neoclassicism was, how it emerged in America, and what happened to it.

Music reviewer and scholar, R. James Tobin argues that efforts to define musical neoclassicism as a style largely fail because of the stylistic diversity of the music that fall within its scope. However, neoclassicists as different from one another as the influential Igor Stravinsky and Paul Hindemith did have a classical aesthetic in common, the basic characteristics of which extend to other neoclassicists This study focuses, in particular, on a group of interrelated neoclassical American composers who came to full maturity in the 1940s. These included Harvard professor Walter Piston, who had studied in France in the 1920s; Harold Shapero, the most traditional of the group; Irving Fine and Arthur Berger, his colleagues at Brandeis; Lukas Foss, later an experimentalist composer whose origins lay in neoclassicism of the 1940s; Alexei Haieff, and Ingolf Dahl, both close associates of Stravinsky; and others. Tobin surveys the careers of these figures, drawing especially on early reviews of performances before offering his own critical assessment of individual works.

Adventurous collectors of recordings, performing musicians, concert and broadcasting programmers, as well as music and cultural historians and those interested in musical aesthetics, will find much of interest here. Dates of composition, approximate duration of individual works, and discographies add to the work's reference value.


With his subtitle, Tobin describes the traditional nature of the musical neoclassicism. Inspired by Harold Shapero's Symphony for Classical Orchestra and by his own listening over the last half century, Tobin hopes to champion American 'classical' music as an alternative to current programming. The chronology of composers ranges from Edward Burlingame Hill to Aaron Rabushka and in degree of familiarity from Walter Piston and Lukas Foss (and perhaps Louise Talma, the only woman) to unknown and/or neglected composers writing between the 1920s and 1950s under the influence of Stravinsky and Hindemith. Tobin writes for the listener from a listener's point of view, and many pieces are available, using Spotify, to listen to while reading his overviews. Recognition of the limits of the tonal system presaged the end of the movement, even though, as John Lessard, one of the composers, writes: 'Everybody does it differently.' Notes, bibliography, and selected discographies are appended. Those interested in the ... Second Boston School and musical activity at Harvard will find much material here, as will any reader interested in this aspect of 20th-century music. Summing Up: Recommended. All readers. CHOICE Tobin's book is an elegy for music whose 'clarity and restraint' he sees as providing the ideal antidote to 'the gratuitous complexities of musical modernism'...Tobin boldly compares Shapero's quality of 'triumphant joy' with Schubert's Great C Major Symphony. Music & Letters Tobin ... works to a clear thesis, with two really strong chapters - one at the beginning, and one at the end - setting out the book's thesis and then firming it up through recap. In addition, Tobin asks provocative questions about the worth of the movement and about artistic influence, among others. Classical Net This is a generous book dealing with a group of composers whose reputations have declined. Tobin announces his intentions to 'fill a widening gap in music history'; to stimulate interest in the American neo-classical composers; and to 'serve as a resource for collectors of recordings and for concert and broadcast programmers'...Tobin makes a convincing claim for giving the American neo-classicists a second chance with their satisfying, unfamiliar music - advice worth following. The book is well produced with notes on sources, recordings, short bibliography and an index. Gramophone The descriptions of music found in Neoclassical Music in America are ... vivid, clear, and concise...Tobin's writing is engaging and unassuming, and the author's deep interest in and knowledge of his subject is palpable...Students of twentieth-century music will find in Neoclassical Music in America a wealth of topics that are ripe for continued research. Indeed, this book offers a welcome starting point for further investigation into a network of fascinating-and neglected-figures and compositions. Notes: Quarterly Journal of the Music Library Association Tobin offers original insight, and this is where his pages shine. The prime example is his lengthy chapter on Harold Shapero (who is pictured on the cover), which features information gained only through personal contact and correspondence... Tobin's ... aim, that of providing a 'resource for collectors of recordings and for concert and broadcast programmers,' is easily the most successfully met...If there are any concert and broadcast programmers willing to program these composers and works, either now or in the future, they will certainly find much valuable content here. American Music I was really impressed by Tobin's writing. He avoids a dry academic style and offers a perfect mix of musical, professional, and personal details. -- Hannah Pyracantha Shapero, daughter of Harold Shapero Tobin's book will be an essential record of this mid-twentieth century music for all libraries and music departments. His intensive interviewing of the composer Harold Shapero is notably impressive, and the excellent account of Alexei Haieff is the best I have ever read. To call this an exceptional job is way below an understatement. An outstanding book! -- Andre Haeff



23,5 x 16,2 x 2 cm
Aantal pagina's
300 pagina's


R. James Tobin
Rowman & Littlefield



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