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The Unanswered Question: Six Talks at Harvard (The Charles Eliot Norton Lectures) Paperback – May 15, 1981

12 customer reviews

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The Unanswered Question: Six Talks at Harvard (The Charles Eliot Norton Lectures) + The Joy of Music Leonard Bernstein + Leonard Bernstein: Omnibus - The Historic TV Broadcasts
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Editorial Reviews

Review

Bernstein on the page turns out to be as vital and evocative as Bernstein in the lecture hall. (The New York Times Book Review)

At all levels this is an oustanding contribution to thinking and talking about music. (Composer)

The Bernstein lectures were...performances of great wit, charm, and virtuosity...They should be read, considered, argued with and profited from. (The Music Review)

Explores the nature of the musical experience with incisive brilliance. It is a book that should be read and treasured by anyone--professional, amateur and layman--with an interest in music. (Newsday)

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Product Details

  • Series: The Charles Eliot Norton Lectures (Book 1992)
  • Paperback: 440 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (April 15, 1981)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674920015
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674920019
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 9.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #319,700 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Robert Greer on June 6, 2004
Format: Hardcover
In response the reviewer who complains that Leonard Bernstein raises more questions than he answers, the composer never purports to be doing anything in these lectures than raise informed points -- hence the title, The Unanswered Question. He gives an extremely cogent hypothesis to explain how and why we perceive music on an emotional level, and from what I've heard, nothing's been shown to disprove his ideas.
Beware that although Bernstein tries to put everything in "layman"'s terms, many of the concepts touched upon will be difficult to understand without a rudimentary knowledge of musical notation.
I found this 'book' to be extremely interesting and a unique, welcome perspective on the nature of music. Those of you interested in Bernstein's compositions will get a nice long look at the inner workings of the mind of one of America's greatest composers; and even if his insights as to the answers of the questions he's asking are erroneous, the manner in which he couches said questions is insightful in and of itself, and more than worth the investment.
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Robert Gries on January 16, 2000
Format: Paperback
I respect Bernstein even more as a scholar of music and languages than I do as a conductor. I thought this was an inspired literary work of his, really. For example, his explanation of musical motive in Beethoven's 5th Symphony where we are shown that Beethoven has taken the common coda form, TA TA TA DUM, that many classical works end with, and turned it to a motive from which derives the motion and power of HIS entire symphony. That is Bernstein at his most insightful and brilliant. Wonderful! Illuminating! I would never have thought of things that only a conductor and musicologist can otherwise understand and explain. Thank you Lenny, we love you!
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33 of 44 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 20, 1999
Format: Paperback
The Unanswered Question, the transcript of six lectures delivered at Hardvard in 1973, outline a new theory of music. Inspired by work of Noam Chomsky and other linguists, Bernstein attempts to find a system of musical grammar analagous to that of language. This is the weakest part of the book. He makes strained generalizations and is attempting to show something that quite possibly isn't true. Starting with the third lecture, however, his work becomes stronger. He includes an efficient analysis of Beethoven's Pastorale Symphony without any extramusical associations. Then he proceeds (with musical examples) to trace the "twentieth century crisis" in music and how Schoenberg and Stravinsky derived different "solutions." This is the strongest past of the book, and certianly worth suffereing through the first two weaker lectures. "The Unasnwered Question" is strongest for raising questions rather than answering them.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Roger M. Longo on August 22, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There is little to say that has not already been said. These lectures are classic because of their multi-disciplinary focus. Simiply put, they are an integration of diverse material that fosters an awareness of the larger picture. In the final analysis all intellectual disciplnes are arbitrary in terms of lines drawn in the sand. Ultimately they all come together as a whole. The Norton Lectures underscore this theme as well as any piece written in the 20th century.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mary Shelly on September 19, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Lenny scores again with this insightful book based on the Norton lectures he gave at Harvard College. He was a graduate of Harvard and studied with Walter Piston among others. Together with Noel Chomsky, Bernstein has made music understandable to the masses. His lectures show a very detailed and careful analysis of musical structures and the nature of poetic vagueness and stretching tonal limits. I would not only recommend this book, I would call it a necessity to the serious music student.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great read, my only qualm is the dimensions of the the book make it very difficult to store. It doesn't fit on one of my bookshelves, and it always poking out and mismatching from the other book shelf. I don't understand why it had to be printed in this matter, as opposed to a standard dimension. Oh well - the book is great though!
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The Unanswered Question: Six Talks at Harvard (The Charles Eliot Norton Lectures)
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