Monday, October 15, 2007

The Romantic Generation

Charles Rosen's The Romantic Generation is based on a series of Charles Eliot Norton Lectures, and I can't help thinking how much more interesting it would be as a lecture series. Or perhaps an audio book. The content is densely intertwined with the musical examples that fill the book and expand it to 700 pages. When they come from Lieder cycles that I know, I understand the points he is making. When they come from his vast knowledge of piano repertoire, I feel myself left behind. This probably means something dire about my level of musicianship, but without a keyboard to at least try them out, I am missing a lot of what he has to say. For me music exists largely in my ears, I'm afraid. I'd like to hear the examples.

So if it is just words, the words don't seem to explain enough. How can I hope to understand Liszt's contribution to the development of piano sonority without hearing the examples played on a piano. If it's only for pianists who can play them themselves, I think I need advanced warning.

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