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Delivered in 1973, the talks were transcribed for a book, but in it Bernstein insists "The pages that follow were written not to be read, but listened to," really an endorsement of the video edition. The talks are, in fact, performances. Television was always kind to Bernstein; he had magnetism and knew how to use it. To illustrate various points in his analyses, he plays the piano frequently, sings occasionally, and conducts significant works of key composers: Mozart, Beethoven, Berlioz, Wagner, Ravel, Debussy, Ives, Mahler, and Stravinsky.
Bernstein traces the development of music from its origins to the 20th-century struggle between tonality (championed notably by Stravinsky) and atonalism (represented mainly by Schoenberg). The last two talks, devoted to these composers, are particularly enlightening, but all six are outstanding. He argues persuasively that humans are born with an ability to grasp musical forms, and that rules of musical syntax are rooted in nature--in mathematically measurable relations between tones and overtones.
These talks are a key document. They coincide chronologically, as cause and/or symptom, with the movement of America's leading composers back from Schoenbergian forms toward a tonal orientation. Bernstein predicts and promotes this movement, which is still in progress. He is clearly an advocate of tonality, but he discusses atonal music with sympathy and understanding. --Joe McLellan
Be aware that the quality of the video on these DVDs is limited.
Bernstein's flawless and articulate lectures illustrated with wonderful performances of well known works is still wonderfully relevant and insightful today.
Bernstein makes sure the listener is in no doubt that there is something way, way beyond necessity in our provision for the experience of music.
Although it was tres academique, Lenny always pops any pomposity but at the same time gives erudite and detailed explanations of his subject. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Anne Suttor
just that what I expected. And in perfect quality. To be recommended to all fans of Leonard Bernstein and his ability to explain music.Published 5 months ago by Werner Latal
The guy is smart, but really like to hear himself talk. A glass of wine will help you get through the lecture.Published 7 months ago by Brad Millman
Be aware that the quality of the video on these DVDs is limited. The color is washed out and the cameras are never quite in focus. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Eric W. Volck
given as a gift to a music director at the college. he loved, loved, loved it. it will be watched a lot.Published 10 months ago by Annette Keller
can't say how much this series changed my life when i first rented from the library on VHS way back when! Read morePublished 13 months ago by madi peyroux
I would hesitate to recommend this to anyone with a deep understanding of music, but I found it both entertaining and educational. Read morePublished 15 months ago by R. Sinclair
I needed some depth in helping college students grasp the complexity of music without loosing their attention with all the technical jargon we musicians can use in analyzing music. Read morePublished 15 months ago by James Ziessler