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The Collected Essays of Milton Babbitt Paperback – June 24, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


"A car won't run unless it's engineered correctly, and the same applies to a piece of music. And Babbit always insists that the whole point of structure in music is that it can be heard: you may have to listen at full stretch, but it will be worth it. Rather like this book--difficult stuff, but intellectually rigorous and undeniably honest."--Martin Cotton, BBC Music Magazine

"It's the book's role as an encapsulation of Babbitt's formalistic way of thinking about music which matters, and this is rendered suitably ambiguous by an intriguing disparity in the types of essay included. These veer between the extremes of the coolly technical and the warmly biographical (and autobiographical). We might not get Babbitt's views on what compositions represent in terms of emotion or feeling, but there is plenty of vivid characterization when it comes to people and places."--Arnold Whittall, Musical Times

"Milton Babbitt's musical world is not a simple one. . . . That's also true of Babbitt's written output. . . . But it's witty too, as you'd expect from the composer of such titles as Joy Of Sextets."--Andy Hamilton, The Wire

"Milton Babbitt, at eighty-nine, has been handsomely, if belatedly, served by this collection of forty-three essays testifying to his seminal presence in musical history. . . . Overall the enterprise is a fine assemblage of scattered writings which will surprise even aficionados by its range."--Jonathan Harvey, Times Literary Supplement

From the Inside Flap

"The time is eminently ripe--indeed past due--for a collection of the writings of Milton Babbitt."--Elaine Barkin, University of California, Los Angeles

"Babbitt is one of the principal makers of postwar musical thought and expression, whose importance for musical composition, theory, and pedagogy in the United States is beyond that of any other individual. This anthology of his writings will stand as a major monument of late twentieth-century musical thought and history."--Benjamin Boretz, Bard College

"Milton Babbitt's influence on American musical composition has been both enormously significant and highly controversial--two excellent reasons for assembling his writings, previously scattered and difficult to locate, into a single volume. Anyone studying or writing about twentieth-century music--in its technical, philosophical, or sociological aspects--will have to deal with parts or all of this invaluable collection."--David Hamilton, The Julliard School --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (June 24, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691155402
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691155401
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,034,737 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Mark J. St Hilaire on October 12, 2007
Format: Hardcover
No serious student or devotee of music should be lacking a copy of this book in their collection! This is one of the most important collections of writings on serious music to date, alongside George Perle's THE RIGHT NOTES and Elliott Carter's COLLECTED ESSAYS & LECTURES, 1937-1995. The annotations by two leading Babbitt scholars are first rate, as Babbitt's thought provoking insights reveal an extraordinary musical intellect at work, corroborating once again his status as one of the most important musical figures of our time with just that right combination of heart and brain. Just one caveat, though: I only wish the book had included Babbitt's doctoral dissertation THE FUNCTION OF SET STRUCTURE IN THE TWELVE-TONE SYSTEM, written in 1946 but not published until 1992. Though this seminal work is gratefully available from UMI, the print is very hard to make out. Including this 1946 classic text fully annotated into the main body of this new book would have made it the ultimate 'perfect book'.
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Great resource--all of Babbitt's essays in a single source. Includes early writings published before the seminal works on serialism. Must have.
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