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Music at the Limits (Columbia Themes in Philosophy, Social Criticism, and the Arts) Hardcover – November 8, 2007

4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Though best known for his political writings (Orientalism), Said was also, from 1986 until his death in 2003, the music critic for the Nation, and this collection draws together reviews from that publication and other magazines. Said had very firm opinions and lashed out against New York City's classical music scene in the 1980s and early '90s for producing safe but grimly uninteresting performances and repertories. Instead of simply blaming the intellectual cowardice of most contemporary musicians, however, he was able to provide detailed technical critiques of a conductor's handling of a Beethoven symphony or a singer's inadequacies in a Wagnerian role. Glenn Gould's intellectualized style of playing was a source of fascination to the critic, and new biographies or films about the pianist would inevitably draw his attention. Said also writes about his friendship with Daniel Barenboim (who contributes an introduction), which leads to one of the few discussions of Middle Eastern politics; a review of the controversial opera The Death of Klinghoffer sparks another. For the most part, however, his attention is strictly on the music, and he proves himself to have been astute and passionately engaged. (Nov.)
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Review

These penetrating discussions of music, performance, culture, and human nature are refreshing, enlightening, and definitely not to be tossed aside as yesterday's journalism.

(Booklist)

This fine collection by one of the most perceptive music critics of the last half-century is highly recommended.

(Library Journal)

Engaging in his writing about performances.

(Palo Alto Weekly)

[Said] was a thinker of great fervency, and it can make for exciting reading.

(Rachel Beckles Willson Times Higher Education Supplement)

[Said's] pieces will reward rereadings for many years to come.

(David Schiff Nation)

Entertaining... marked by tremendous enthusiasm and a depth and breadth of insight that is rare among writers on any subject.

(Economist)
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Product Details

  • Series: Columbia Themes in Philosophy, Social Criticism, and the Arts
  • Hardcover: 344 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press (November 8, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231139365
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231139366
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #725,210 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Reading Edward Said on music is to read a critic whose capacious interests draw you into an extraordinary world; and that world forms the context for his music reviews written over a two-decade period (early 1980s to early 2000). Reading his reviews of operas at the MET, you realize how he listens to music, how it moves his words, and how he arrives at his judgments. He is simply brillaint--and one of the most readable music critics. A pleasure throughout ...
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Format: Hardcover
I was introduced to Edward Said in my global studies class in college, in which I found his works insightful and uniquely eye-opening among the pack of academics. Later I found that not only was Edward Said a great scholar, writer, but also a great lover of music. In this book I've found that Said was a big fan of Glenn Gould, endlessly talked on topics of opera (not my personal forte, I prefer instrumental music), and plenty of interesting discussions, reviews, and critiques on composers, conductors, pianists, and other musical events, contemporaries. This is an amazing book fortune of insights on music that are must for the ardent musician and the amateur fans of the world of Classical music.
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Format: Paperback
This book is well worth your time if you are a serious listener. It's full of great ideas on the philosophy of performance as well as pleasing bits of personal information about performers, conductors, and musical institutions. It's a good starting point as well for further reading of this great man's other artistic and political statements.
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Format: Hardcover
I'll let others with the inclination give a detailed review of Said's views. Let me just say that the publisher should be ashamed of the volume's terrible lack of competent proofreading. I expected more from a University press.
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