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Pyramids at the Louvre: Music, Culture, and Collage from Stravinsky to the Postmodernists Hardcover – May 1, 1994

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Editorial Reviews


The real value of the book lies in the intricate network of cross-fertilisations and syntheses it reveals between things we're used to thinking of in isolation. Watkins is an assiduous and enthusiastic cultural detective, adept at ferreting out the obscure lineage of an idea...[An] ambitious and impressive book. (Ivan Hewett Musical Times)

[Watkins's] argument is that, just as I. M. Pei's glass pyramids at the Louvre pluralistically resonate against the Napoleon III architecture which provides a backdrop, so the cultural experience of twentieth-century music owes much to the special concern of composers with varieties of collage--with 'cut and paste' methodologies that bring the Orient into alignment with the Occident, the primitive with the sophisticated, the organic with the clockwork. Watkins...brings his infectious cultural curiosity to bear on what we might define, borrowing one of his own phrases about the cinema, as a concern with 'promoting the comprehensibility of fracture'...This book...keeps the crucial questions alive, and nourishes them in an attractively personal and provocative way. (Arnold Whittall Music & Letters)

Impressive....Utilizing an immense store of knowledge, Watkins explores the unusual juxtapositions of our century--exotic and indigenous, old and new, black and white, high and low, cerebral and instinctive (the 'collage' of the title). In 17 essays that examine major movements and figures, he draws on music, art, literature, sociology, and cultural history...Much is provocative. (Choice)

An ambitious attempt to understand our inherited Western musical culture...An entertaining and clearly written chronicle, no little part of which is new insights and previously slighted historical accounts. And equally valuable to the reader is the exhilarating fun of discovering new details among the familiar. (Alan Andres Boston Book Review)

More About the Author

Glenn E. Watkins (born May 30, 1927), is the "Earl V. Moore Professor Emeritus of Music History and Musicology" at the University of Michigan and a specialist in the study of Renaissance and 20th-century music.


1 Biography
2 Awards
3 Work
4 Books
5 External Links


Born in McPherson, Kansas, Watkins served in the United States Army from 1944-46. During this period he was enrolled in the ASTP engineering program at Oklahoma University, the Japanese language programs at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Minnesota, and was later stationed in Tokyo with the "Allied Translator and Interpreter Section" of MacArthur's General Headquarters. Immediately after the war in 1947 he briefly attended North Texas State University where his first organ teacher, Helen Hewitt, directed him to the field of musicology.

He received his B.A. (1948) and M.Mus (1949) from the University of Michigan; and Ph.D. from the Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester, in 1953. Watkins was the recipient of a Fulbright scholarship at London and Oxford, 1953-54. He studied organ with Jean Langlais in Paris in 1956 and analysis and organ at Fontainebleau with Nadia Boulanger, who commissioned him to play the Poulenc Organ Concerto for the composer. His teaching career began at Southern Illinois University from 1954-58, and continued at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 1958-63. In 1963 he moved to the University of Michigan, where he taught until retiring in 1996.


In addition to the Fulbright Award, Watkins has received an American Council of Learned Societies Grant, and Senior Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the University of Michigan Institute for the Humanities. He has published numerous articles, reviews and editions, and is co-editor of the complete works of Gesualdo. His critical study of that composer, Gesualdo: The Man and His Music (1973), which carries a Preface by Igor Stravinsky, was a 1974 National Book Award nominee. It was translated into Hungarian in 1980 and into German in 2000, and a second revised English edition was published in 1990. In 2005 he was awarded the Premio Internazionale Carlo Gesualdo and was elected as an Honorary Member of the American Musicological Society.


Watkins's editions of the works of Sigismondo d'India and Carlo Gesualdo have been recorded by numerous international groups, including the Deller Consort, the Consort of Musicke, the Tallis Scholars, La Venexiana, The Kassiopeia Quintet, and Les Arts Florissants. His text Soundings (1988) offers a synthetic overview of music in the 20th century, and his book Pyramids at the Louvre (1994) argues the idea of collage as a foundation for musical Modernism and a catalyst for the rise of Postmodernism. Watkins's most recent book, Proof Through the Night: Music and the Great War (2003), investigates the variable roles of music during World War I primarily from the angle of the Entente nations' perceived threat of German hegemony. His current project, The Gesualdo Hex (2010) traces not only the recognition accorded to a Renaissance prince from his own time to the early twenty-first century but places it within the context of ongoing historiographic debates and controversies.

Watkins has lectured widely in America for universities, orchestras and art organizations, and his interest in both late Renaissance and 20th-century studies is reflected in numerous invited papers for international conferences as well as in projects for Columbia, Nonesuch, Pye, L'Oiseau Lyre, Harmonia Mundi, Glossa, and Deutsche Grammophon records and for BBC, German, and Italian television.


Gesualdo: The Man and His Music. 2nd edition. Oxford, 1991. ISBN 0-19-816197-2 National Book Award Nominee, 1974
Soundings: Music in the Twentieth Century, 1988, 1995. ISBN 0-028-73290-1
Pyramids at the Louvre. Music, Culture, and Collage from Stravinsky to the Postmodernists, 1994. ISBN 0-674-74083-9
Proof through the Night: Music and the Great War, 2002. ISBN 0-520-23158-9
The Gesualdo Hex, 2010. ISBN: 978-0393071023

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