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Modern Music and After 3rd Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0199740505
ISBN-10: 019974050X
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Editorial Reviews

Review


"Recommended for all libraries serving music programs at the undergraduate level or higher. There is a wealth of information here, and few write as knowledgeably and engagingly on new music as Griffiths." --Fontes Artis Musicae


"Griffiths has done an outstanding job of making this music at least intellectually accessible. It is our job as listeners, if we seriously care, to seek it out and try to encounter it on its own terms. Highly recommended for libraries with sections on new music, composition, music theory and contemporary aesthetics/philosophy." --Music Media Monthly


"Modern Music and After remains as close a definitive survey, study, guide and analysis to its field as there is; it can be recommended without reservation. The standards of scholarship and authorship are indeed high....Production standards, are of course, high; and the price is beyond reasonable -- that alone should convince you to buy this third edition, even if you've read the earlier one(s)...the updates and referencing are significant. For a comprehensive, readable, authoritative, entertaining, lively, open-minded and all round well-written book on the development of music in our time, there is no better." --Classical.net


"Recommended for all libraries serving music programs at the undergraduate level or higher. There is a wealth of information here, and few write as knowledgeably and engagingly on new music as Griffiths." --Fontes Artis Musicae



Praise for the first edition:


"Griffiths is excellent about a whole host of composers he admires....Any reader, enthusiast or specialist, will find much to interest and provoke. This book is probably the best of its kind in English today."--Ian Pace, Tempo: Quarterly Review of Modern Music


"Griffiths is so fluent, so practiced a writer in this field that it is understandable if the closest he gets to sceptical disengagement is in suggesting that a composer leaves critics, and even musicologists, lost for words." --Arnold Whittall, The Musical Times


"[A] marvellously thought-provoking and engaging text."--The Musical Times


"A must for the student, and also for the general reader."--The Times


"As impressive for its accuracy, as for the clarity, acumen, and wit of its writing." --Classical Music


About the Author


Paul Griffiths is an acclaimed writer on contemporary and classical music whose books include A Concise History of Western Music and The Penguin Companion to Classical Music. He is also known as a librettist (Elliott Carter's What Next? ) and novelist. In 2002, Griffiths was honored by the French government as a Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 3 edition (February 16, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019974050X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199740505
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 1.3 x 6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #414,684 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
MODERN MUSIC AND AFTER should really be kept in print, though the market may be small, as it is the best book on the subject. It serves, among other things, as the best record guide to the post-war avant-garde that I've found, although since '95 it has become somewhat outdated.

Griffiths imbues the story of the serialist avant-garde with high drama. The hero of his story is Pierre Boulez. Messiaen is the mentor, and Stockhausen the brother, a source of friendly but intense rivalry. Schoenberg is the father figure who Boulez "kills" even as he carries on his tradition, but of course crediting Webern. The history gives a palpable sense of the excitement of this avant-garde circle, which came together at Darmstadt. Cage and his zen anarchism presents a radical challenge to the integral serialist Project, and begins to explode it.

This takes us through the 1950s. The second part of the book is equally good, as the linear sense of progress unravels in the 1960s and '70s and fragmentation sets in. A fascinating development which Griffiths documents, but does not comment on, is the resurgence of sacred music as the secular avant-garde disintegrates. The Estonian composer Arvo Part is but one example of this trend, what might be called the reassertion of the pre-modern in the context of the post-modern. The third section is not as good, and resembles other similar books in being more an encyclopedia of entries on various composers and trends. There doesn't seem to be much alternative to this for now, but it's interesting to imagine how the present period may be reconstructed in light of future developments...

In his introduction Griffiths laments the loss of a sense of shared criteria for evaluating the diverse music of the moment.
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Format: Paperback
My writer brethren here neglected to mention that Griffiths in this reissue,brings us up-to-date a way of completing the tale he began over 20 years ago. Since that time composers have either grown up or become more important, some have fallen from graces completly. Brian Ferneyhough has grown up and Griffiths here gives ample evidence although brief and outlines in form, you read it,and it points you toward a greater exploration of his music. Likewise Morton Feldman became fascinated with the set of problematics concerning longer lengths in music's construction. Likewise the late Luigi Nono, this is the first real description in English of his summary work Prometeo,and gives a good perspective on him.Likewise the late Cage is discussed. Griffiths now writes for the New York Times, and he breathes some new life there of a seasoned reviewer.
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Format: Paperback
This certainly is the book to get the low-down on contemporary music. However, here a few points of interest:
Firstly, I think the most glaring omission is Louis Andriessen, who not only co-wrote The Apollonian Clockwork, but has also composed some of the most important and exciting non-Webernian music around. What is especially important about Andriessen is that his own 'minimal' style is fully aware of the Modernist heritage at the same time as it critiques or refutes it, as oppoesed to others who just dismiss it outright and have no real understanding of post-Webernian serialism. Also, Andriessen's continuing political ideals make him an interesting study in current musico-poltical relations (now that most are dead: Nono, Cardew; or just write rubbish: Henze).
In fact, while I am no authority on comtemporary Dutch music, I certainly know no more about it through reading this book. Which brings me to my second point: the Anglo-West Europe-American-centricity.
Not only does he leave out the Netherlands, Finland, Scandinavia, South America, as well as the bizarre history of post-war Polish music, but also Australia and (South East) Asia. Now while I am no doubt partisan, his only mention of Australia is one line about the Elision Ensemble in relation to Richard Barrett, Chris Dench, and Finnissy. I think Australia has some of the best composers anywhere (Liza Lim, for instance), writing from a variety of perspectives and a fuller account of these
place-specific musics would have interesting, for instance examination of Australia's liminal position between Europe and Asia and how that affects attitudes to composition.
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I am a trained musician and avid classical music fan who is turning my attention and tastes to modern composers and found this textbook extremely useful. There was a minimal amount of subjective characterizations by Mr. Griffiths that I really appreciated. He focused more on objective technical innovations and accomplishments made by various composers which really helped me understand what to listen for. It is a broad survey book covering around 60 years and does have a strong focus on Boulez, Stockhausen, Berio, and Ligeti. More than anything I now have a much better grasp on why I like particular composers and not others, and am excited to take the next step in going more in depth with particular ones that appeal to me.

On another note, I have been one of those classical music lovers who has kept my interest in the "Romantic" style. Saying that, I have never been so excited about classical music than now because new music feels alive and exciting and I've had enough of the continual repetition of very old and dead music. In my opinion, the extremes of total serialism are very hard to appreciate and probably turn many people off from new music. But since the 1960s post advant garde movement I have found an incredible amount of compelling and exciting music to focus on. Anyone who claims to be a classical music fan needs to read this book or one like it and bring modern musical language and the composers who write with it today back into the mainstream concert halls.
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