The Art of Music and Other Essays
Hector Berlioz (1803-1869) was equally prominent as composer and author. According to Harold Schonberg, he was the "foremost music critic of his time, possibly of all time". A Travers Chants is the collection of writings he himself selected from his thirty-odd years of musical journalism. These essays cover a wide spectrum of intellectual inquiry: Beethoven's nine symphonies and his opera, Fidelio; Wagner and the partisans of the "Music of the Future"; Berlioz's idols - Gluck, Weber, and Mozart. There is an eloquent plea to stop the constant rise in concert pitch (an issue still discussed today), a serious piece on the place of music in church, and a humorous and imaginative account of musical customs in China. But Berlioz's writings also contain biting satire and ridicule - of opera singers, of the Academy, of dilettantism. This new translation, phrased in lively, idiomatic English and annotated for the twentieth-century reader, is illustrated with lithographs and drawings from Berlioz's lifetime. Berlioz's writings are a treasure-house of information on nineteenth-century musical life, performance practice, and taste.
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