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Music > Individual Composers and Musicians

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Mozart and Enlightenment Semiotics Cover

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Mozart and Enlightenment Semiotics

Stephen Rumph

In this groundbreaking, historically-informed semiotic study of late eighteenth-century music, Stephen Rumph focuses on Mozart to explore musical meaning within the context of Enlightenment sign and language theory. Illuminating his discussion with French, British, German, and Italian writings on signs and language, Rumph analyzes movements from Mozart’s symphonies, concertos, operas, and church music. He argues that Mozartian semiosis is best understood within the empiricist tradition of Condillac, Vico, Herder, or Adam Smith, which emphasized the constitutive role of signs within human cognition. Recognizing that the rationalist model of neoclassical rhetoric has guided much recent work on Mozart and his contemporaries, Rumph demonstrates how the dialogic tension between opposing paradigms enabled the composer to negotiate contradictions within Enlightenment thought.

Mr. Tuba Cover

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Mr. Tuba

Harvey Phillips. Foreword by David N. Baker

With warmth and humor, tuba virtuoso Harvey Phillips tells the story of his amazing life and career from his Missouri childhood through his days as a performer with the King Brothers and the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circuses, his training at the Juilliard School, a stint with the US Army Field Band, and his freelance days with the New York City Opera and Ballet. A founder of the New York Brass Quintet, Phillips served as director of the New England Conservatory of Music and became Professor of Music at Indiana University. The creator of an industry of TubaChristmases, Octubafests, and TubaSantas, he crusaded for recognition of the tuba as a serious musical instrument, commissioning more than 200 works. Enhanced by an extensive gallery of photographs, Mr. Tuba conveys Phillips's playful zest for life while documenting his important musical legacy.

Music and Sexuality in Britten Cover

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Music and Sexuality in Britten

Selected Essays

Philip Brett

Philip Brett’s groundbreaking writing on Benjamin Britten altered the course of music scholarship in the later twentieth century. This volume is the first to gather in one collection Brett’s searching and provocative work on the great British composer. Some of the early essays opened the door to gay studies in music, while the discussions that Brett initiated reinvigorated the study of Britten’s work and inspired a generation of scholars to imagine "the new musicology." Addressing urgent questions of how an artist’s sexual, cultural, and personal identity feeds into specific musical texts, Brett examines most of Britten’s operas as well as his role in the British cultural establishment of the mid-twentieth century. With some of the essays appearing here for the first time, this volume develops a complex understanding of Britten’s musical achievement and highlights the many ways that Brett expanded the borders of his field.

Music and the Skillful Listener Cover

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Music and the Skillful Listener

American Women Compose the Natural World

Denise Von Glahn

For Denise Von Glahn, listening is that special quality afforded women who have been fettered for generations by the maxim "be seen and not heard." In Skillful Listeners, Von Glahn explores the relationship between listening and musical composition focusing on nine American women composers inspired by the sounds of the natural world:Amy Beach, Marion Bauer, Louise Talma, Pauline Oliveros, Joan Tower, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Victoria Bond, Libby Larsen, and Emily Doolittle. Von Glahn situates "nature composing" among the larger tradition of nature writing and argues that, like their literary sisters, works of these women express deeply held spiritual and aesthetic beliefs about nature. Drawing on a wealth of archival and original source material, Von Glahn skillfully employs literary and gender studies, ecocriticism and ecomusicology, and the larger world of contemporary musicological thought to tell the stories of nine women composers who seek to understand nature through music.

Music from the True Vine Cover

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Music from the True Vine

Mike Seeger's Life and Musical Journey

Bill C. Malone

Malone’s biographical work covers the life and musical contributions of folk artist Mike Seeger, the brother of folk singer Pete Seeger. One of the founding members of influential folk group the New Lost City Ramblers, Mike Seeger spent more than fifty years preserving, performing, and commemorating the culture and folk music of white and black Southerners, which he called “music from the true vine.” Malone argues that Seeger, while not as well known as his brother, may be more important in his work to identify and give a voice to the people from whom the Folk Revival borrowed its songs. Malone calls Seeger a musician, documentarian, and scholar, saying that his interest in folk music began during--and was shaped by--the post-Depression era. Malone believes Seeger (who died in 2009) made great contributions to the emerging field of American Roots Music, which has become a topic of increasing importance for scholars and an enduring area of interest for the listening public. This manuscript shows why generations of traditional musicians and fans of traditional music count Seeger as a mentor and an inspiration, and presents Seeger as a gatekeeper of American roots music and culture.

Music Is My Life Cover

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Music Is My Life

Louis Armstrong, Autobiography, and American Jazz

Daniel Stein

Music Is My Life is the first comprehensive analysis of Louis Armstrong's autobiographical writings (including his books, essays, and letters) and their relation to his musical and visual performances. Combining approaches from autobiography theory, literary criticism, intermedia studies, cultural history, and musicology, Daniel Stein reconstructs Armstrong's performances of his life story across various media and for different audiences, complicating the monolithic and hagiographic views of the musician. The book will appeal to academic readers with an interest in African American studies, jazz studies, musicology, and popular culture, as well as general readers interested in Armstrong's life and music, jazz, and twentieth-century entertainment. While not a biography, it provides a key to understanding Armstrong's oeuvre as well as his complicated place in American history and twentieth-century media culture.

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Nine Choices

Johnny Cash and American Culture

Jonathan Silverman

For much of his career, Johnny Cash opened his shows with the tagline, “Hello, I’m Johnny Cash.” This introduction seemed unnecessary, since everyone in the audience knew who he was—the famous musical artist whose career spanned almost five decades, whose troubled life on and off the stage received wide publicity, and whose cragged face seemed to express a depth and intensity not found in any other artist, living or dead. For Cash, as for many celebrities, renown was the product of both hard work and luck. Often a visionary and always a tireless performer, he was subject to a whirlwind of social, economic, and cultural countercurrents. Nine Choices explores the tension between Cash’s desire for mainstream success, his personal struggles with alcohol and drugs, and an ever-changing cultural landscape that often circumscribed his options. Drawing on interviews, archival research, and textual analysis, Jonathan Silverman focuses on Cash’s personal and artistic choices as a way of understanding his life, his impact on American culture, and the ways in which that culture in turn shaped him. Cash made decisions about where he would live, what he would play, who would produce his albums, whether he would support the Vietnam War, and even if he would flip his famous “bird”—the iconic image of Cash giving the finger which is now plastered on posters and T-shirts everywhere—in the context of cultural forces both visible and opaque. He made other decisions in consultation with a variety of people, many of whom were chiefly concerned with the reaction of his audiences. Less a conventional biography than a study of the making of an identity, Nine Choices explores how Johnny Cash sought to define who he was, how he was perceived, and what he signified through a series of self-conscious actions. The result, Silverman shows, was a life that was often tumultuous but never uninteresting.

One Long Tune Cover

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One Long Tune

The Life and Music of Lenny Breau

Ron Forbes Roberts

“Mr. Guitar” Chet Atkins called Lenny Breau (1941-1984) “the greatest guitarist who ever walked the face of the earth.” Breau began playing the instrument at age seven, and went on to master many styles, especially jazz. Between 1968 and 1983 he made a series of recordings that are among the most influential guitar albums of the century. Breau’s astonishing virtuosity influenced countless performers, but unfortunately it came at the expense of his personal relationships. Despite Breau’s fascinating life story and his musical importance, no full-length biography has been published until now. Forbes-Roberts has interviewed more than 175 people and closely analyzed Breau’s recordings to reveal an enormously gifted man and the inner workings of his music. “Lenny Breau was, and will always be, a great treasure. We need him today more than ever.” —Mundell Lowe

One Man's Music Cover

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One Man's Music

The Life and Times of Texas Songwriter Vince Bell

Vince Bell

Texas singer/songwriter Vince Bell’s story begins in the 1970s. Following the likes of Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark, Bell and his contemporaries Lyle Lovett, Nanci Griffith, and Lucinda Williams were on the rise. In December of 1982, Bell was on his way home from the studio (where he and hired guns Stevie Ray Vaughan and Eric Johnson had just recorded three of Bell’s songs) when a drunk driver broadsided him at 65 mph. Thrown over 60 feet from his car, Bell suffered multiple lacerations to his liver, embedded glass, broken ribs, a mangled right forearm, and a severe traumatic brain injury. Not only was his debut album waylaid for a dozen years, life as he’d known it would never be the same. In detailing his recovery from the accident and his roundabout climb back onstage, Bell shines a light in those dark corners of the music business that, for the lone musician whose success is measured not by the Top 40 but by nightly victories, usually fall outside of the spotlight. Bell’s prose is not unlike his lyrics: spare, beautiful, evocative, and often sneak-up-on-you funny. His chronicle of his own life and near death on the road reveals what it means to live for one’s art.

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One Woman in a Hundred

Edna Phillips and the Philadelphia Orchestra

Mary Sue Welsh

Gifted harpist Edna Phillips (1907-2003) joined the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1930, becoming not only that ensemble's first female member but also the first woman to hold a principal position in a major American orchestra. Plucked from the Curtis Institute of Music in the midst of her studies, Phillips was only twenty-three years old when Leopold Stokowski, one of the twentieth century's most innovative and controversial conductors, named her principal harpist. This candid, colorful account traces Phillips's journey through the competitive realm of Philadelphia's virtuoso players, where she survived--and thrived--thanks to her undeniable talent, determination, and lively humor._x000B__x000B_Drawing on extensive interviews with Phillips, her family, and colleagues as well as archival sources, One Woman in a Hundred chronicles the training, aspirations, setbacks, and successes of this pioneering woman musician. Mary Sue Welsh recounts numerous insider stories of rehearsal and performance with Stokowski and other renowned conductors of the period such as Arturo Toscanini, Fritz Reiner, Otto Klemperer, Sir Thomas Beecham, and Eugene Ormandy. She also depicts Phillips's interactions with fellow performers, the orchestra management, and her teacher, the wily and brilliant Carlos Salzedo. Blessed with a nimble wit, Phillips navigated a plethora of challenges, ranging from false conductors' cues to the advances of the debonair Stokowski and others. She remained with the orchestra through some of its most exciting years from 1930 to 1946 and was instrumental in fostering harp performance, commissioning many significant contributions to the literature. _x000B_

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