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This is a beautiful cross-disciplinary approach to explaining the balance between tonality and atonality of music in our century. Bernstein starts by establishing a musical vocabulary borrowed from linguistics, and uses these tools to illustrate the theory behind a range of classical music from Mozart to Debussy. What makes it distinct from other popular texts on classical music is that the linguistic analogies enable Bernstein to talk about specific musical constructions as if they were poetic
This is an outstanding series of lectures. I recommend watching the videos alongside reading the essays, in order to hear the musical examples and look at the scores simultaneously.The first three essays are highly technical - Bernstein lays out a linguistic theory of music (borrowing heavily from Chomsky.) The latter three essays apply these principles but also venture a great deal into philosophy, literature, and poetry. "The Delights and Dangers of Ambiguity" explores Romanticism; "The Twenti...
I'm watching the lectures. The use of linguistic analogy seems tenuous. They are probably as tenuous as his ideas of a 'musical monogenesis' -- the structures we build around, or which naturally evolve from the original flash of inspiration, especially when reworked over generations, often depart substantially from the source. He does concede this, and even admits that there are 'deviants' such as Hindu Raga but he argues that one can still, with effort, trace its construction to the same natura...
These lectures are incredibly thought-provoking and deeply investigate music within other disciplines, but are very dense. I recommend breaking them into much smaller, easier to digest chunks, with long breaks between.(As an aside, I did watch more of them than I read, and would also recommend that.)
My brother, a violinist, turned me on to Bernstein's ideas about the "grammar" of music - his explanation of the crisis of early twentieth-century music is worth it all - readable, erudite and human in the best Bernstein way!
I have mixed feelings about this written encapsulation of Bernstein's obviously brilliant Norton Lectures. Much that he says is unquestionably true, but he also makes some obvious statements (the syntax of music can be akin to that of language), some overreaches (the syntax of music is essentially always that of language... why such broad strokes?), and some ascribing soothsaying where it's not needed (no, Mahler did not see all of the 20th century, and encode it into his 9th symphony, give me a...
Leonard Bernstein was an incredibly passionate conductor of classical music, and gave a series of wonderful lectures recorded at Harvard. These lectures present his theory that music can be broken down into constituent atoms of musical words and phrases that form the structure necessary for a form of language. He draws heavily on the linguistic influence of Noam Chomsky and applies this theory to music. In doing so, he analyzes popular classical pieces and dissects them in a while to expose thes...
There is little to be said about these lectures that has not already been said. They are illuminating and chock-full of brilliant insights, and especially thought-provoking in the way that they weave connections between different disciplines. The only segment that I didn't feel stood the test of time was the final one, regarding the mid-twentieth century tonal/serial conflict. Perhaps Bernstein's conclusion was not fully satisfying because he was too close to his subject and lacked our decades o...
Though I don't necessarily agree with Bernstein's opinion about the true "answer" to the "unanswered question" of tonality, these lectures are passionate, insightful, and riveting, even in written form.Ah, if only Charles Ives could be resurrected in order to settle this debate! Who am I kidding, he'd remain "neutral" just to provoke us all.
This is finally out in DVD - I bought it when it was only available on vinyl nd as a book. It changed my life.
This was a first time experience. I don't consider myself to be any close to something like a music connoisseur or to have any aesthetics philosophy, so all of my forms of art appreciation have been mostly subjective.The series of lectures delivered much more than I expected. It broadened my view of arts, expressiveness, linguistics, language and meaning. I came looking for gold but found platinum. Bernstein follows an interesting case that I'll try to summarize in case the future me decides to
"És hiszem Keatsszel, hogy a föld költészete véget mindaddig nem lel, amíg a telet tavasz követi, és van ember, aki észleli. Hiszem, hogy ebből a földből olyan zene sarjad, amely forrásai természeténél fogva tonális."Bernstein az egyetlen aki zenei elemzéseivel, filozofálásával majdnem meg tudott sirattatni.
[To whom it may concern]Lecture 1 : https://youtu.be/8fHi36dvTdE Lecture 2 : https://youtu.be/r_fxB6yrDVoLecture 3 : https://youtu.be/8IxJbc_aMTgLecture 4 : https://youtu.be/hwXO3I8ASSgLecture 5 : https://youtu.be/kPGstQUbpHQLecture 6 : https://youtu.be/OWeQXTnv_xU
Brilliant! These lectures are captivating, insightful, cross-disciplinary, thought-provoking, mind-expanding and beautiful. Immensely rich lines of thought from which so much can be explored... What a blessing!
This book, and its accompanying video lectures, were my first exposure to Bernstein, the instructor. It is pretty safe to say that there has never been someone so charismatic and passionate about the dissemination of musical knowledge. Even his records for CBS are fantastic. This series, though... this is the holy grail. I have revisited it time and time again, gleaning detail after detail with each reading. I wish the book was not so hard to find, otherwise I would be buying copies of it for al...
As a musician and as a linguist, I find this some of the more intelligent, sound, and innovative writing I've found on both frontiers. Its style is also very accessible for the layperson; the examples are clear and concise. A fascinating subject put forth beautifully by a brilliant mind. For those wishing to listen to the excerpts and pronunciations/sounds "in the moment," you can watch the series on Netflix as well.
Alright, I'm cheating; Technically I've only seen this on video, but it's basically the same.
Such an eloquent speaker and man! A must read for music lovers and musicians!
A must read (or listen) for any serious music lover. Bernstein, in his typical brilliance, finds ways to explain the unexplainable, thus answering Charles Ives's Unanswered Question.
These lectures were filmed as well. Great stuff.