"Wow. Kramer succeeds at what is a fantastically difficult task: to seduce readers into a powerful engagement with classical music by portraying in words its complex entanglements with fundamental human drives and social needs. Ranging from J.S. Bach to John Adams, the author shows again and again how classical music participates in the ...
"Wow. Kramer succeeds at what is a fantastically difficult task: to seduce readers into a powerful engagement with classical music by portraying in words its complex entanglements with fundamental human drives and social needs. Ranging from J.S. Bach to John Adams, the author shows again and again how classical music participates in the exploration of subjectivity, the conquest of time and mortality, the harmonization of humanity and technology, the cultivation of attention, and the liberation of human energy. Matching some of the most famous descriptive musical prose of the modern era, Kramer uses his extraordinary command of language to treat the material in a manner that could not be more original and stimulating."--Robert Fink, author of "Repeating Ourselves: American Minimal Music as Cultural Practice"
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Publishers Weekly, 2007-01-15 Classical music isn't necessarily that bad off, Kramer admits; there's still a diverse range of concert performances, and many listeners are choosing to download works from the Internet. But "something still feels wrong," something he identifies as the loss of the genre's crucial role in our cultural lives. The reasons Kramer, a music and literature professor at Fordham University, offers for why one ought to appreciate classical music fall back on the usual high-culture arguments that it "asks its listeners to imagine a work with more fullness and complexity than most other music does," converting emotions into tangible sound yet somehow not reducing them to abstraction. The problem with writing about classical music, of course, is that no matter how passionately you describe a Brahms quintet, it's not the same as hearing an actual performance. At times, Kramer's enthusiasm becomes overwrought, as when he rhapsodizes about the piano's harp and hammers uniting to create an instrument of " magic and engineering." He's more convincing when he describes the effect a young busker's Bach sonata has on the crowds at a New York subway platform. Such moments of direct observation are sprinkled throughout the erudite text-if only they appeared more consistently. (May) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
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