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The Classical Style: Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven (Expanded Edition) Paperback – January 17, 1998
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Written in 1970, this winner of the National Book Award is perhaps the best guide to the music of the late 18th century that the reader is likely to find. Rosen defines classical music (which, in this case, is probably more properly rendered "Classical," as it refers to that specific style) through the music of its greatest geniuses: Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven. This is serious stuff, but well worth the effort for the student of classical music. There are many printed musical illustrations; you'll get more out of this book if you read music. This volume has a logical successor in Rosen's The Romantic Generation. A revised version in hardcover is due later this year. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
The first edition of this book won the 1972 National Book Award and remained available in paperback for more than two decades. For this edition, Rosen adds a 14-page preface answering some of his friendly critics and a 26-page essay on Beethoven?which includes 44 musical examples, not seen?that emphasizes the composer's indebtedness to Haydn and Mozart. Otherwise, the text of the original edition remains unchanged. A CD (not heard) of Rosen playing two Beethoven piano sonatas (opp. 106 and 110) is also included. Libraries successful in keeping together the book and CD of Rosen's Romantic Generation (LJ 4/1/95) may want to attempt the same with this set, but once the CD is lost, the price seems high for only two new essays if the older edition is still serviceable.?Bonnie Jo Dopp, Univ. of Maryland Lib., College Park
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Of all the formal principles that have defined any period, the elements of classical style are perhaps most amenable to formal analysis. The classical period is principally characterized by sonata form and tonality. We can agree with Sir Donald Tovey that we do violence to compositions by interpreting them as if sonata form constitutes a set of binding rules rather than a post-facto abstraction of what the masters of the classical period actually did. Nonetheless, the principles of tonality may be expressed with an intellectual clarity which is more elusive when characterizing, say, a canon or polyphonic mass.
This is a reflection of the ideals of the classical period, whose audiences delighted in elegance and structural economy. Classical composers highlighted the structural contours defining works by emphasizing modulation and calling attention sectional boundaries with an intensified emphasis cadence. Elegance of structure was taken by the classical masters as an end in itself, and their harmonies glide on a framework they trace and enact. That is in itself a large part of the game of classical composition.
An understanding of the classical period is not only relatively easy to acquire, but of central importance to understanding nearly all subsequent composition. With the arguable exceptions of minimalism and some wings of the avant garde, nearly every important composition in the Occident since Haydn is either tonal or a reaction against tonality. Tonal harmony is the very foundation of our music theory to this day, and understanding its history and development can open up a deeper understanding of everything from Verdi to Schoenberg to Robert Johnson to Kylie Minogue.
Rosen makes all of this remarkably evident and comprehensible in dazzling prose that astonishes the reader with his insight on every page. I'm not a musicologist and browsed through a lot of the close passage analysis that comprises a big chunk of the book, but I still got my money's worth many times over.
I purchased this book as a reference for a class I plan to teach and will find this rich resource my bible. He has written several books on other periods of music history, and I'd look into them without hesitation.