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After the Golden Age: Romantic Pianism and Modern Performance Hardcover – December 7, 2007

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (December 7, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195178262
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195178265
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #948,246 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"A compelling and richly detailed volume. Kenneth Hamilton puts the 'golden age' of romantic pianists into broad historical perspective, shrewdly confronting issues over authenticity, 'grand manner', and continuity with the present."--William Weber, Professor of History, California State University, Long Beach

". . . a thoughtful, highly stimulating look at the golden age of pianism and its nineteenth-century exponents. Kenneth Hamilton wears his considerable scholarship lightly as he re-examines stylistic markers of the great pianists and argues cogently for their relevance to modern performers." --R. Larry Todd, Arts and Sciences Professor, Duke University, and author of Mendelssohn: A Life in Music

"This book is a tour de force, a milestone in the history of musical performance. Kenneth Hamilton's vivid, evocative prose admirably reflects the virtuoso character of his subject. He calls into question the very nature of music, while throwing down a series of challenges to today's performers. A truly magnificent achievement!"-- Colin Lawson, Director, Royal College of Music, London

"A delightful book."--IThe New York Times

"Kenneth Hamiltons excellent new Oxford history of romantic pianism"--Norman Lebrecht in La Scena Musicale Online

"A wonderful book."--The Guardian

"After the Golden Age is a cri de coeur, lamenting the loss of a passionate, individualistic, free-form performance style -- Dionysus in the concert hall -- and arguing for its reconsideration. For all that, Mr. Hamilton's own prose style is gentle and deft."--James F. Penrose, The Wall Street Journal

"The pianist and author Kenneth Hamilton is an ideal guide to the changes of recitals, his dry Scottish humour the perfect weapon with which to skewer egos and pomposity.... A delightful book."--Susan Tomes, The Independent

About the Author

Described after a recently televised performance of Chopin's First Piano Concerto with the St. Petersburg State Radio Symphony Orchestra as "an outstanding virtuoso--one of the finest players of his generation" (Kommersant Daily, Moscow), Scottish pianist and writer Kenneth Hamilton has appeared worldwide as a recitalist and concerto soloist. He has made many international television and radio broadcasts and is a regular performer and lecturer on music for the BBC in his native Britain. His doctoral research at Balliol College, Oxford, was on the music of Liszt, and he has for many years been a member of the Music Department of the University of Birmingham, UK. Numerous festival appearances have included a particularly memorable combination of pianism and scholarship in his highly successful re-creation of Liszt's 1847 concerts in Istanbul for the Istanbul International Festival.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By klavierspiel VINE VOICE on May 21, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In its relatively concise length, Kenneth Hamilton's book deals with several related questions concerning the history of piano performance in a remarkably comprehensive fashion. Beginning with the broadest questions, such as where and for whom pianists customarily performed in the nineteenth century, the author, himself a distinguished pianist, continues with issues such as the length and composition of concert programs, the role of improvisation in public performances, memorization, and the eternal problem of fidelity to the printed score and respect for the composer's intentions.

It is inevitable that the figure of Franz Liszt would take center stage in a book that asks whether there was indeed a "golden age" of pianism. One of the singular virtues of Hamilton's work is that the great pianist and composer is presented as the complex, multifaceted figure he was. His public performances were very different from piano recitals today, with assisting artists, improvisation, so-called "preluding," and above all, vocal and frequently riotous audience expression. In fact, they were quite a bit like popular music concerts are today. How we got from those lively, frequently lightweight and sloppy, but exciting events to the solemn, reverent affairs that piano concerts are today is a central, though hardly the only, topic of Hamilton's discourse. He shows us that although something has arguably been gained by this transformation, something also has been lost.

There are some tedious stretches in the book--it is difficult to enliven, for example, a chapter that is basically a recitation of concert programs played by this or that pianist--and not all of the author's observations are fresh.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Chiara Bertoglio on August 6, 2008
Format: Hardcover
A thought-provoking and enjoyable book! It is written skillfully and with humour, so it's a real pleasure to read it; but at the meantime it provides the reader with the most advanced scholarly research, with a complete and thorough insight on performance practice, and has the added value of combining the musicologist's knowledge with the pianist's practical experience and creativity. a MUST!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A truly excellent reference book including a proper discussion of various eras as well as famous pianists of the past. The bibliography section is extremely noteworthy; moreover, Hamilton presents both positive and negative sides of several questions. There is humor as well as fantastic examples of past writings of famous pianists.
This book is highly recommeded for pianists, music lovers and aficandoes alike. One only wishes that photographs were available. Pianists could learn much from this book.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Wade Meyers on October 2, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you're into piano performance practice and the history of the pianists you should absolutely read this - it's similar to Schonberg's writings, like The Lives of the Great Pianists, but more intensive.

The book deals with the change of performance practice from the late 19th century into the 20th century in a good amount of detail and with a number of cited sources. Mr. Hamilton's sense of humor also shines through, so you have no need to worry about a 'dry textbook' style of writing. Of the books I've picked up in the past few years, this is certainly one of my favorites and one of those which has given me a great deal to think about.
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