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Brahms and the Challenge of the Symphony (Ex)

ISBN: 9780945193906
Publisher: Pendragon Press
Publication Date: 1997-10-13
Number of pages: 352
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  • Regular price $79.35

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Brahms's symphonies represent one of the most important bodies of work to come from the second half of the nineteenth century, when many of the difficult issues that have confronted composers and scholars in our own century were formulated. As the other arts at that time were turning away from romanticism, musicwaswitnessing an extended confrontation between two attitudes that had been fundamental to musical romanticism in the preceding generations: that music was on the one hand profoundly expressive and, on the other, essentially self-sufficient. Wagner set the terms for the conflict at mid-century, proclaiming the ina quacy of "absolute" music and arguing that Beethoven's Ninth Symphony ended thesymphonic tradition with its demonstration that musical expressivity ultimately stems from an innate dependency on "the word." Wagner's arguments were followed, in short order, by Liszt's appropriation of thesymphonic genre to programmatic ends (with Wagner's eventual, if guarded, approval); Hanslick's Vom Musikalisch­ Schonen, with its influential argument for the self-sufficiency of music; and the appearance of Schumann's article "Neue Bahnen," which vested the future of music solely in the person of the young, virtually unknown Johannes Brahms, who was heralded as the awaited savior of a valued but languishing tradition.

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