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Music > Individual Composers and Musicians
The Life and Times of a Piano Virtuoso
One of the foremost piano virtuosi of her time, Fannie Bloomfield-Zeisler reliably filled Carnegie Hall. As a "new woman," she simultaneously embraced family life and forged an independent career built around a repertoire of the German music she tirelessly championed. Yet after her death she faded into obscurity. In this first book-length biography, Beth Abelson Macleod reintroduces a figure long, and unjustly, overlooked by music history. Trained in Vienna, Bloomfield-Zeisler significantly advanced the development of classical music in the United States. Her powerful and sensitive performances, both in recital and with major orchestras, won her followers across the United States and Europe and often provided her American audiences with their first exposure to the pieces she played. The European-style salon in her Chicago home welcomed musicians, scientists, authors, artists, and politicians, while her marriage to attorney Sigmund Zeisler placed her at the center of a historical moment when Sigmund defended the anarchists in the 1886 Haymarket trial. In its re-creation of a musical and social milieu, Fannie Bloomfield-Zeisler paints a vivid portrait of a dynamic artistic life.
The Music of John Luther Adams
The first critical anthology of an important and singular contemporary composer The artistic heir of sonic artists such as John Cage and James Tenney, John Luther Adams is one of the most significant and highly regarded contemporary American composers. The Farthest Place is the first critical look at the work of the composer whom the New Yorker critic Alex Ross has called “one of the most original musical thinkers of the new century.” While often identified with the Alaska that so inspires him, Adams is anything but a regionalist. Though inspired by the wild and open nature that surrounds him, “Adams does not represent nature through music. He creates tonal territories that resonate with nature—immersive listening experiences that evoke limitless distance, suspended time, deep longing and even transcendence.” In addition to the New Yorker piece by Alex Ross, and original essays by Kyle Gann and Wilco’s own Glenn Kotche, The Farthest Place includes essays by scholars, critics, composers, and performers, merging theoretical and historical observations, musical and environmental questions with analytical discourse and personal commentaries on Adams’s music and thought.
Fela: Kalakuta Notes is an evocative account of Fela Kuti—the Afrobeat superstar who took African music into the arena of direct action. With his antiestablishment songs, he dedicated himself to Pan-Africanism and the down-trodden Nigerian masses, or “sufferheads.” In the 1970s, the British/Ghanaian musician and author John Collins met and worked with Fela in Ghana and Nigeria. Kalakuta Notes includes a diary that Collins kept in 1977 when he acted in Fela’s autobiographical film, Black President. The book offers revealing interviews with Fela by the author, as well as with band members, friends, and colleagues.
For the second edition, Collins has expanded the original introduction by providing needed context for popular music in Africa in the 1960s and the influences on the artist’s music and politics. In a new concluding chapter, Collins reflects on the legacy of Fela: the spread of Afrobeat, Fela’s musical children, Fela’s Shrine and Kalakuta House, and the annual Felabration. As the dust settles over Fela’s fiery, creative, and controversial career, his Afrobeat groove and political message live on in Kalakuta Notes. Features a new foreword by Banning Eyre, an up-to-date discography by Ronnie Graham, a timeline, historical photographs, and snapshots by the author.
Women Performers, Composers, and Impresarios from the Baroque to the Present
Representing a historical cross-section of performance and training in Western music since the seventeenth century, Five Lives in Music brings to light the private and performance lives of five remarkable women musicians and composers: Duchess Sophie-Elisabeth of Braunschweig-Lueneburg, Elisabeth-Claude Jacquet de la Guerre, Josephine Lang, Maria Bach, and Ann Schein. Elegantly guiding readers through the Thirty Years War in central Europe, elite courts in Germany, urban salons in Paris, Nazi control of Germany and Austria, and American musical life today, as well as personal experiences of marriage, motherhood, and widowhood, Cecelia Hopkins Porter provides valuable insight about the culture in which each woman was active. Throughout the lively and focused portraits of these five women, Porter finds common threads, both personal and contextual, that extend to a larger discussion of the lives and careers of female composers and performers throughout centuries of music history.
The Life and Music of Curly Seckler
With his trademark mandolin style and unequaled tenor harmonies, Curly Seckler has carved out a seventy-seven-year career in bluegrass and country music. His foundational work in Flatt and Scruggs's Foggy Mountain Boys secured him a place in bluegrass history, while his role in The Nashville Grass made him an essential part of the music's triumphant 1970s revival. Written in close collaboration with Mr. Seckler and those who know him, Foggy Mountain Troubadour is the first full-length biography of an American original. Penny Parsons follows a journey from North Carolina schoolhouses to the Grand Ole Opry stage and the Bluegrass Hall of Fame, from boarding houses to radio studios and traveling five to a car on two-lane roads to make the next show. Throughout, she captures the warm humor, hard choices, and vivid details of a brilliant artist's life as he crisscrosses a nation and a century making music.
Moving with the Giants of Jazz, Swing, and Rhythm and Blues
Detailing the career of Joe Evans, Follow Your Heart chronicles the career of Joe Evans, an alto saxophonist who between 1939 and 1965 performed with some of America's greatest musicians, including Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, Charlie Parker, Jay McShann, Andy Kirk, Billie Holiday, Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, Lionel Hampton, and Ivory Joe Hunter. Evans warmly recounts his wide range of experience in the music industry and comments on popular New York City venues used for shaping and producing black music, such as the Apollo Theater, the Savoy, Minton's Playhouse, and the Rhythm Club. Revealing Evans as a master storyteller, Follow Your Heart describes his stints as a music executive, entrepreneur, and musician. Evans offers invaluable insight into race relations within the industry and the development of African American music and society from the 1920s to 1970s.
During his short lifetime, Franz Schubert (1797–1828) contributed to a wide variety of musical genres, from intimate songs and dances to ambitious chamber pieces, symphonies, and operas. The essays and translated documents in Franz Schubert and His World examine his compositions and ties to the Viennese cultural context, revealing surprising and overlooked aspects of his music.
Contributors explore Schubert’s youthful participation in the Nonsense Society, his circle of friends, and changing views about the composer during his life and in the century after his death. New insights are offered about the connections between Schubert’s music and the popular theater of the day, his strategies for circumventing censorship, the musical and narrative relationships linking his song settings of poems by Gotthard Ludwig Kosegarten, and musical tributes he composed to commemorate the death of Beethoven just twenty months before his own. The book also includes translations of excerpts from a literary journal produced by Schubert’s classmates and of Franz Liszt’s essay on the opera Alfonso und Estrella. In addition to the editors, the contributors are Leon Botstein, Lisa Feurzeig, John Gingerich, Kristina Muxfeldt, and Rita Steblin.
This award-winning book, now available in paperback, is the first solid appraisal of the legendary career of the eminent Hungarian-born conductor Fritz Reiner (1888-1963). Personally enigmatic and often described as difficult to work with, he was nevertheless renowned for the dynamic galvanization of the orchestras he led, a nearly unrivaled technical ability, and high professional standards. Reiner's influence in the United States began in the early 1920s and lasted until his death. Reiner was also deeply committed to serious music in American life, especially through the promotion of new scores. In Fritz Reiner, Maestro and Martinet, Kenneth Morgan paints a very real portrait of a man who was both his own worst enemy and one of the true titans of his profession.
Writings in Music Theory
One of the twentieth century's most important musical thinkers, James Tenney did pioneering work in multiple fields, including computer music, tuning theory, and algorithmic and computer-assisted composition. From Scratch is a collection of Tenney's hard-to-find writings arranged, edited, and revised by the self-described "composer/theorist." Selections focus on his fundamental concerns--"what the ear hears"--and include thoughts and ideas on perception and form, tuning systems and especially just intonation, information theory, theories of harmonic space, and stochastic (chance) procedures of composition.