The Symphony: A Listener's Guide

by Michael Steinberg

Paper Book, 1995




New York : Oxford University Press, 1995.


Enriched by biographical detail, historical background, musical examples, and many finely nuanced observations, this volume is a treasury of insight and information. Readers will find illuminating discussion of the complete symphonies of Beethoven, Schumann, Brahms, Sibelius, and Mahler, aswell as of the most loved symphonic works of Schubert, Bruckner, Dvorak, Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, and others. We learn how to listen more sharply for Haydn's humor, to Mozart's singular combination of pathos with grace, and to the evolution of Beethoven's musical ideas in his nine symphonies. Thisremarkable range and variety of composers are illuminated by Steinberg's deft, inviting, and intensely personal essays, which give such a vivid portrait of each composer's personality that the reader gets an immediate sense of how the work is a direct expression of the person from whose soul andbrain it has sprung.Tracing the ways in which composers have dealt with the musical challenges that have engaged them throughout the centuries, Steinberg takes us through the revolutions of expression, sound, and form that have shaped the symphony's remarkable history. Whether beginners or veterans, music lovers willlisten to the symphony with enlivened interest and deeper understanding with Steinberg's masterful guide in hand.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member jwhenderson
This is a well-written guide to the symphonic repetoire by an experienced music critic, historian and annotator. In addition to the standard classic and romantic composers the author has included selected twentieth century symphonic works. Each entry is enriched by biographical detail, historical background and musical examples. This is a welcome introduction to music for both new and experienced listeners.… (more)



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