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Ravel the Decadent: Memory, Sublimation, and Desire Hardcover – March 27, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (March 27, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199735379
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199735372
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 0.9 x 6.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,022,112 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review


"Ravel the Decadent represents an enormous advance in our understanding of both the composer's music and French musical culture following the fin-de-siècle, then in the throes of one of music's many modernisms. In a series of elegant and urbane reflections, Michael J. Puri dissolves our vague notions of the music's impressionism and neoclassicism into a much more meaningful engagement with its abiding sense of historical memory, its inclination to 'dwell in the past.' He grounds this in-dwelling in its thematic procedures, which form an intricate, mnemotechnical apparatus that mediates but also destructures our experience of the music: in moments of calm reflection, these processes disrupt the seamless aesthetic surface of the music, rendering it momentarily formless. It is to these moments, in which memory becomes music, that Puri encourages us to listen." --Brian Hyer, Professor of Music Theory, University of Wisconsin - Madison


"Puri's writing is elegant, clear, and engaging. His ear for musical detail, through close readings of works and intertextual reference, is always sure. He moves persuasively between critical theory and musical discussion, between context and aesthetics, in what surely ranks as not only one of the finest studies of Maurice Ravel ever written, but also a model for musical scholarship of early twentieth-century repertory in general." --Steven Huebner, Professor of Music, McGill University


"Beautifully produced and inexpensive, this is a most valuable addition to Ravel scholarship." --Classical Music


"A compelling, complex study...The volume brims with lively, engaging prose and is graced with numerous musical examples, tables, and figures...Highly recommended." --Choice


"A wonderful achievement...Ravel the Decadent will stand for decades as a major contribution to the fields of both musicology and music theory." --Notes


"[A] dazzling book whose impact will resonate for decades. Anyone interested in music during the Th ird Republic, memory studies or the French Decadence will want to consult it." --Nineteenth-Century French Studies


About the Author


Michael J. Puri is an Associate Professor in the McIntire Department of Music at the University of Virginia. A graduate of Harvard, Yale, and the Music Academy in Basel, Puri uses literary and critical theory to analyze music of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with special attention to Ravel, Debussy, and Wagner. His articles have appeared in leading music journals and various edited collections, and his research has been supported by national societies and foundations. In 2008 he received the Alfred Einstein Award from the American Musicological Society.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 28, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Not infrequently writers who attempt to make literal the ethereal music of composers fall into the quandary of `how can musical meaning be expressed in words?' Most audiences continue to swoon during performances of Maurice Ravel's `La Valse,' `Boléro,' `Gaspard de la nuit,' `Daphnis and Chloé,' `Shéhérazade,' `Ma Mère l'Oye', `Valses nobles et sentimentales,' the piano concerti, `Le Tombeau de Couperin,' etc are inclined to respond to the rapturous moods he created But in this book by Michael J. Puri the intent is to step into academia and explain the works of the composer in terms of the event and tenor of the times.

According to Puri, a graduate of Harvard, Yale, and the Music Academy in Basel, Switzerland, a musicologist and concert pianist who first encountered Ravel through his beautiful but technically challenging music for piano. Puri's research into Ravel grew beyond the piano music to include the composer's entire output, Ravel (1875 - 1937) was a decadent, in that generation of artists - painters, writers and musicians who produced from the end of the 19th century through the years between World Wars I and II - concerned with both internal psychology and external aesthetics. Dandyism, or the adoption of a fashionable public persona that was an artistic expression in itself, was part of this movement. "I saw that there were gaps in the way historians accounted for late 19th- and early 20th-century music. Ravel's music remains very popular for classical musicians and audiences, but for various reasons he's been neglected in these narratives. It occurred to me that I had the opportunity to think new thoughts about a major repertoire.
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