A Choice Outstanding Academic Book of 2003
Central to the repertoire of Western art music since the 18th century, the symphony has come to be regarded as one of the ultimate compositional challenges. Surprisingly, heretofore there has been no truly extensive, broad-based treatment of the genre, and the best of the existing studies are now several decades old. In this five-volume series, A. Peter Brown explores the symphony from its 18th-century beginnings to the end of the 20th century. Synthesizing the enormous scholarly literature, Brown presents up-to-date overviews of the status of research, discusses any important former or remaining problems of attribution, illuminates the style of specific works and their contexts, and samples early writings on their reception. The Symphonic Repertoire provides an unmatched compendium of knowledge for the student, teacher, performer, and sophisticated amateur. The series is being launched with two volumes on the Viennese symphony.
The First Golden Age of the Viennese Symphony
Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert
Volume II considers some of the best-known and most universally admired symphonies by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert, who created what A. Peter Brown designates as the first golden age of the Viennese symphony during the late 18th and first three decades of the 19th century. The last two dozen symphonies by Haydn, half dozen by Mozart, and three by Schubert, together with Beethoven’s nine symphonies became established in the repertoire and provided a standard against which every other symphony would be measured. Most significantly, they imparted a prestige to the genre that was only occasionally rivaled by other cyclic compositions. More than 170 symphonies from this repertoire are described and analyzed in The First Golden Age of the Viennese Symphony, the first volume of the series to appear.
“" . . . a remarkably smooth read. . . . If the succeeding volumes are up to the level of this one, music lovers have a great treat in store." —Choice
The first volume to appear in the five-volume magnum opus of A. Peter Brown, this work sets a new standard for writing about the symphonies of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert. Now a single source provides up-to-date overviews of the status of research, former or present questions of attribution, discussion of stylistic traits, background material on the musical context of composition and early performances, as well as samplings from the early reception of works that we now call classics.”
“Though this massive tome may look quite formidable, it proves to be a remarkably smooth read for anyone who already knows much of the literature being addressed. Brown (Indiana Univ. School of Music) covers every symphony composed by the four giants of the First Viennese School, and from a wide variety of perspectives: historical context, structural architecture, nuances of orchestration, critical editions, public response, and reception. The result is a treasure trove of information, scholarly and thorough without being pedantic or boring. The reader most likely to derive maximum pleasure from the book will come armed with scores, recordings, and (of course) prior experience with the works in question. Such a reader will be delighted by the insights Brown provides. Though this is the second volume of a projected five-volume series on the history of the symphony, it is the first to appear in print. If the succeeding volumes are up to the level of this one, music lovers have a great treat in store. Definitely not for beginners. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above.”
— E. Schwartz, Bowdoin College , 2003apr CHOICE
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