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Experiencing Leonard Bernstein: A Listener's Companion - Listener's Companion (Hardback)
  • Experiencing Leonard Bernstein: A Listener's Companion - Listener's Companion (Hardback)
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Experiencing Leonard Bernstein: A Listener's Companion - Listener's Companion (Hardback)

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£31.95
Hardback 220 Pages / Published: 30/10/2014
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Leonard Bernstein is a household name. Most know him for his classic musical reworking of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet as Broadway's West Side Story. But Bernstein accomplished so much more as a composer, and his body of work is both broad and varied. He composed ballets (Fancy Free, Facsimile, Dybbuk), operas (Trouble in Tahiti, Candide, A Quiet Place), musicals (On the Town, Wonderful Town), film scores (On the Waterfront), symphonies, choral works, chamber music pieces, art songs, and piano works. In Experiencing Leonard Bernstein: A Listener's Companion, Kenneth LaFave guides readers past Bernstein's famously tortured personal problems and into the clarity and balance of his Serenade after Plato's Symposium for Violin and Orchestra, the intense drama of his music for On the Waterfront, the existential cosmography of his three symphonies, and his vibrant works for the musical stage. Perhaps the most famous American classical musician born in the twentieth century, Bernstein divided his time between composing, conducting, writing, and teaching, a busy schedule-especially his conducting of major orchestras-that set his work as composer at a disadvantage. Often generated in short spurts, his work carries an urgency-and even an element of improvisational genius-that he flavored with his eclectic embrace of jazz, folk song, Jewish cantorial music, and innovations in contemporary classical theory. The result is a body of work that is beguilingly melodic, incomparably rhythmic, and irrepressibly individual. Experiencing Leonard Bernstein: A Listener's Companion is the ideal work for any reader seeking to learn how to listen across the spectrum of Bernstein's musical output.

Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield
ISBN: 9781442235434
Number of pages: 220
Weight: 445 g
Dimensions: 235 x 159 x 22 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
On the next-to-last page of his survey of Leonard Bernstein's compositions, LaFave says, 'I fully expected Bernstein the composer to shrink' as the book burgeoned. The reverse occurred. Bernstein's music revealed more and more structural glories, such as the informing use of the tritone in West Side Story, as well as an overall profile at once traditional and avant-garde. Bernstein clung to tonality and argued against atonal and 12-tone composition per se while exemplifying how to use 12-tone rows within tonal works. He leaped into the orchestral percussion revolution that led to minimalism, and he pioneered injecting pop-music styles, performance techniques, and instruments (electric guitar, Hammond organ) into otherwise classical orchestral and singing ensembles to produce the sui generis Mass, 'the best-selling multiple-disc classical recording in the industry's history.' LaFave's greater-than-anticipated enthusiasm for his subject shows in the liveliness of his engrossing readings of Bernstein's scores, which include thorough plot precis of the composer's dramatic works, including the musicals, the movie On the Waterfront, Mass, and even the violin concerto Serenade after Plato's Symposium (based on a drama of sorts, after all). Reading his descriptive analyses seems the next-best thing to attending actual performances-quite an achievement for a series book. * Booklist, Starred Review *
'The Listener's Companion' series in which this book appears is meant to provide accessible, user-friendly information on prominent composers, performers, and music artists. A music journalist and working composer and musician, LaFave knew Bernstein personally and so is able to present him in a very different light than could a musicologist or even an avid scholar. LaFave takes a chronological approach to Bernstein's life and musical career, analyzing influences, people, and his compositions in a straightforward and approachable fashion. Bernstein is presented in all of his facets, both positive and negative, and the reader gets the sense that the author is sitting down and narrating Bernstein's life in person. There is a time line of important events in Bernstein's life at the beginning of the book and a selected reading and listening list at the end. A refreshing approach to the life and works of a great 20th-century American composer, conductor, and musician. Summing Up: Recommended. All readers. * CHOICE *
The premise of this book is that one experiences Leonard Bernstein largely through his own compositions, and Kenneth LaFave makes it clear that this was a view of himself Bernstein cherished. There is no shortage of available biographical material for and studies of the most-publicized American musician of the second half of the last century and, though LaFave explicitly says this is not a biography, he equally explicitly says one cannot understand Bernstein's music without some knowledge of that biography, and that is what he undertakes here. Each piece he discusses is given its biographical position and its interpretation as a reflection of Bernstein's thought and life at that moment. In LaFave's telling, the composer Bernstein was intimately bound up with the person Bernstein, and that union was expressed by 'faith,' perhaps the most-common descriptive word in this book, and the word LaFave works hardest to give content to. . . .LaFave's prose is everywhere effusive and ebullient. * Fanfare Magazine *
Experiencing Leonard Bernstein: A Listener's Companion is an excellent book for every music lover who wishes to know the works of Leonard Bernstein. The book invites you to listen to his compositions. (Translated from the original Dutch) * Opera Nederland *

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