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Constructive Dissonance: Arnold Schoenberg and the Transformations of Twentieth-Century Culture Hardcover – May 27, 1997


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Hardcover, May 27, 1997
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 242 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (May 27, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520203143
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520203143
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,729,012 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

"There cannot ever be too many good books about Schoenberg, and so it is a special pleasure to welcome Constructive Dissonance, which is far beyond just 'good.' These essays cover a generous range in style and idea. Many of them also are deeply moving, and nothing could be more appropriate for the composer of our century's most fiercely intense music."--Michael Steinberg, author of The Symphony: A Listener's Guide

"Although much has been written about Schoenberg, no group of essays examines his life and work in such a broad context. Here we find Schoenberg's matrix: the social, cultural, political, and artistic currents that helped shape him, and to which he made his own extraordinary contribution."--Robert P. Morgan, author of Twentieth-Century Music

"As we approach the turn of this century, it is clear that Arnold Schoenberg must becounted as one of the most important figures in Western art music during the last one hundred years. Schoenberg's influence on art-music culture has not only worked its effects through his music, but also through his thinking and writing about music. This collection makes a fitting tribute to Schoenberg and does an admirable job of presenting the many facets of Schoenberg the composer, music theorist, and thinker. These thought-provoking essays present a broad range of approaches to a rich variety of topics within Schoenberg scholarship, and readers will find both familiar and not-so-familiar issues arising during the course of the volume. Constructive Dissonance is certain to become an important book for those interested in twentieth-century art music and culture, and seminal reading for anyone interested in Arnold Schoenberg and his work."--John Covach, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

From the Back Cover

"There cannot ever be too many good books about Schoenberg, and so it is a special pleasure to welcome Constructive Dissonance, which is far beyond just 'good.' These essays cover a generous range in style and idea. Many of them also are deeply moving, and nothing could be more appropriate for the composer of our century's most fiercely intense music." (Michael Steinberg, author of The Symphony: A Listener's Guide)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Autonomeus on November 5, 2001
This is a collection of academic papers from a conference held at the University of Southern California in 1991. Unfortunately they are mainly of no interest beyond specialists, and the book certainly does not live up to its ambitious and intriguing subtitle. It might more accurately have been called "Schoenberg and the Transformations of Musicological Hermeneutics."

The papers are divided into three sections -- Contexts, which looks at how Schoenberg was affected by his social context, Creations, which examines specific aspects of Schoenberg's music, and Connections, which looks at what effect Schoenberg had on the world. The third section is where "Transformations of 20th Century Culture" might be identified -- how Schoenberg's atonality and serialism, revolutionary or purist or neoclassicist ideas affected modern culture -- but this is totally absent. Instead we have insular examinations of Schoenberg from a postmodern standpoint. Disappointing and dull.

The one excellent essay, by Leon Botstein, founding director of the Arnold Schoenberg Institute, is a fascinating look at Schoenberg's position in avant-garde intellectual circles in Vienna. Botstein describes two rival factions, one centered on Gustav Klimt, and one centered on Karl Kraus. Schoenberg was active in the Kraus circle, which "believed in art as a profound instrument of ethical and moral transformation," saw that "modernism needed to be a critique of culture," and advocated "truth-telling" as opposed to what it saw as the other faction's "facile bohemianism."

Given Adorno's advocacy of Schoenberg, and given the retreat of much postmodernism into moral relativism and facile bohemianism, a book that truly addressed the effect of Schoenberg and the Second Vienna School on 20th century culture would be well worth reading!
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