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Jean-Philippe Rameau: His Life and Work Paperback – January 1, 1990


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 631 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications; Rev Enl edition (January 1, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486262006
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486262000
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,202,494 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Fernand Ray on June 29, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
OK, this is unquestionably a major book on Rameau, if not THE major work. So let's get that out of the way. Masterful, scholarly, detailed and analytical, it's a must.

But. Rameau gave us more than most people know. First of all, he codified harmony for centuries to come. The fact that 20th century "serious music" went fishing off the coast of Schoenberg's neuroses will hopefully be forgiven in centuries to come. And to anyone who wants to tackle THAT issue by quoting from the microcephalics who accused Rameau of writing incomprehensible noise, I will only say that THAT was a polemic in hyperbole that dealt with Opera style, and that it worked itself out within a few years. Some critics may have rejected Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, but it took only a few years for it to be universally recognized as a masterpiece. But "ordinary" people are still gaping at Schoenberg's dodecacophony after nearly a hundred years, it's not working itself out at all. Rameau described and explained "normal" harmony as we all "instinctively" know it, though it's precisely because Rameau hit on some Universals that this "instinctively" exists. The Baroque started with harmony in flux, and by the time it was over, there were certain progressions and cadences that had become established, and that still make sense today. Forgetting academics making dissonant noises for their mutual admiration society, real music exists outside the Universities and the grants circuit, and real music is what everybody listens to. The Beatles, Michael Jackson, Mozart, Chopin, Brahms -- EVERYBODY understands basic harmony. And Rameau was the man who set it down. His treatises are hard reading, and I suspect still not fully understood. And here is a basic problem with Girdlestone.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By J. Kara Russell VINE VOICE on June 23, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When a book is this well researched, this detail rich, and still has large portions of a person's life left cloudy, you know that the historical records are lost.

My only disappointment with this book is that I wanted more of a personal story; but apparently it is not to be found. This is readable history with an extreme eye for detail, and any musical scholor will be delighted with the depth of the musical analysis. (A bit too much for me... if I am to have to music theory, I want to see the whole piece... but that would have made this a multi-volume set.)

The majority of this book is analysis of the works of Rameau, with a focus on the operas, compared and contrasted with other contemporaries, which can be a bit dry. But for those who are seeking/preparing to perform Rameau, this is neccessary information to have when embarking. The next to last chapter is about his keyboard works, and this was useful to me for exactly this reason, I am interested as a harpist in making these works a groundstone of my repertoire, and his history, thoughts and insights here are very helpful.

(ex: he mentions that "Venitienne" is played as a barcarole, rolling and easy, and that it's full character comes out at this pace. This is my experience working on it. Christophe Rousset plays it a full tilt on his CDs of Rameau's works, and it loses it's sweetness at that speed, and feels "short." That one quibble aside, if you're interested in Rameau's keyboard works, Rousset's 2 CD set is a masterwork and a must have for your library. It's one of my prized CDs.)

Apparently, when Piron said about Rameau "when he closed the lid [of his harpsichord] there was no one home"... he was pre-cognizant of how much of Rameau's life would remain undiscovered. There is still a LOT of his life here, and plenty to shed better light on misplaced rumors of his ill temper and inarticulate speech. Fasincating talented man who lived in interesting times.
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