The Indispensable Composers: A Personal Guide

The Indispensable Composers: A Personal Guide

An exploration into the question of greatness from the Chief Classical Music Critic of the New York TimesWhen he began to listen to the great works of classical music as a child, Anthony Tommasini had many questions. Why did a particular piece move him? How did the music work? Over time, he realized that his passion for this music was not enough. He needed to understand it...

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Title:The Indispensable Composers: A Personal Guide
Author:Anthony Tommasini
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The Indispensable Composers: A Personal Guide Reviews

  • Tim

    I was surprised and somewhat disappointed that Aaron Copland didn’t make the cut.

  • Carl Nelson

    Starting with a justification of an exercise he is uncomfortable with ( it flows out of a New York Times series on the top 10 composers) the author writes convincing arguments about his selections and their place. I found the discussion of Schubert's struggles and the related reflections from the authors life to be especially mind expanding. (As one working at understanding the writing of Teilhard de Chardon it makes me yearn for the manifestation of the

    Starting with a justification of an exercise he is uncomfortable with ( it flows out of a New York Times series on the top 10 composers) the author writes convincing arguments about his selections and their place. I found the discussion of Schubert's struggles and the related reflections from the authors life to be especially mind expanding. (As one working at understanding the writing of Teilhard de Chardon it makes me yearn for the manifestation of the Omega point.)

    The arguments in this book also helped understand and place Schoenbergs 12 tone system in the historical development of music. And the book finishes with very sensible arguments about being open to new music without worrying about its place in the canon. And the new understanding this book has given me will help me more thoroughly appreciate the wealth of recordings in the new Bach 333 set.

  • Dan Downing

    As with many books concerning music, one must allow time for listening when reading this one. For instance, imagine my amazement when Mr. Tommasini starts with Claudio Monteverdi, and I realize I don't have any recordings of Monteverdi's work! Everyone else was within easy reach, albeit a few pieces I wanted to hear needed to be YouTubed.

    One of the nice touches here was the explanation for musical terms, a boon to many readers, I'm sure, although a drag for those who know what's what with the s

    As with many books concerning music, one must allow time for listening when reading this one. For instance, imagine my amazement when Mr. Tommasini starts with Claudio Monteverdi, and I realize I don't have any recordings of Monteverdi's work! Everyone else was within easy reach, albeit a few pieces I wanted to hear needed to be YouTubed.

    One of the nice touches here was the explanation for musical terms, a boon to many readers, I'm sure, although a drag for those who know what's what with the score. For middle-roaders like me, several explanations were tilted just a bit away from what my basic understanding was, and thus I came to understand more. Bonus points!

    The composers selection is delightful, the discussion of the work informative, the Notes may be passed without harm, and the few poor syntactical blunders and usage errors forgiven.

    Highly Recommended.

  • George

    I have been a reader of NY Times chief critic for years and this book is terrific! Loosely based on his Top Ten Composers project, an eight-week series of articles which caused a sensation in 2011, especially when he asked his readers to jump in with their own lists (I gleefully did), this book is his personal list of the composers he argues that one cannot live without.

    There will be quibbles with his list by many (Mahler and Tchaikovsky didn't make the cut, Schumann and Bartok do), but his lis

    I have been a reader of NY Times chief critic for years and this book is terrific! Loosely based on his Top Ten Composers project, an eight-week series of articles which caused a sensation in 2011, especially when he asked his readers to jump in with their own lists (I gleefully did), this book is his personal list of the composers he argues that one cannot live without.

    There will be quibbles with his list by many (Mahler and Tchaikovsky didn't make the cut, Schumann and Bartok do), but his list is a good cross-section of composers and their respective times, with a scholars and critics insights into the composers musical periods and their contributions to the growth of classical music. He includes personal recollections of his encounters with some of these pieces as a musician and as a critic, which are enlightening.

    After reading the epilogue, I thought of a new project for Tommasini: a similar list and analysis of other 20th Century composers and current 21st Century composers. I think that classical music could use a guide to recent/current composers and who better than Tommasini to write that book? As a critic, he has probably seen concerts, as well as done interviews and profile pieces, of many of these composers. I would find a survey of these composers by someone with his credentials fascinating.

  • PWRL

    SM

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