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Brahms: The Four Symphonies 1st Edition

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
ISBN-13: 978-0028707655
ISBN-10: 0028707656
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--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"This book is both rich and concise....Frisch notes that there hasn't been a book on Brahms's symphonies published in English since 1939; this superb book was worth the wait, and is not likely to be superseded any time soon. Brahms lovers should not miss it." --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Yale Music Masterworks Series --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Series: Monuments of Western Music
  • Hardcover: 226 pages
  • Publisher: Schirmer Books; 1st edition (October 23, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0028707656
  • ISBN-13: 978-0028707655
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.5 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,778,656 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Thomas J. Busse on May 5, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I am always amazed how books that actually tell you something somehow go out of print. There has not been a single decent analytic study of the complete Brahms Symphonies since Julius Harrison's Survey in 1939. That work is written in a period style that tells the student of these symphonies very little. This is symptomatic of a problem with English music literature in general. There are not enough general purpose guides to single pieces of music.
The density of Brahms's symphonies is such that many details can be easily overlooked without guidance. Walter Frisch is one of the foremost English-speaking experts on Brahms's music. One can try to work out all the thematic ideas of the symphonies without a guide. I have conducted three of these works myself, and before reading this work, I had missed several details that now redefine how I interpret them (for example, I was never able to articulate reason for the magical of the second movement of the Third Symphony, until I read Frisch's comments on how the tonic chord can be the dominant of the subdominant.)
This last comment is music-speak. Regrettably, it is only comprehensible by a small percentage of the concert/recording audience. For those fortunate enough to know German, there are several good guides on individual pieces of music in that language. Otherwise, the closest thing one has in English is the Cambridge Music Handbook series. The problem with that series is that many of the entries are not analytic enough (ie. they fail to provide a measure by measure breakdown of the piece) and the books are overpriced for what they provide ...
Luckily, Rheinhold Brinkmann's Late Idyll is still available for the reader. He restricts his discussion to the Brahms 2cd symphony, but it is a wonderful work indeed. Frisch attempts a similar approach with all the symphonies. It could use more detail, but I'm sure he was limited to a certain length by his editors.
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