Cover image for Concerto conversations
Concerto conversations
Kerman, Joseph, 1924-2014.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
175 pages : illustrations, music ; 24 cm + 1 audio disc (digital ; 4 3/4 in.).
Subject Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML1263 .K47 1999 TEXT Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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The concerto has attracted relatively little attention as a genre, Joseph Kerman observes, and his urbane and wide-ranging Norton Lectures fill the gap in a way that will delight all music listeners. Kerman addresses the full range of the concerto repertory, treating both the general and particular. His perceptive commentary on individual works - with illustrative performances on the accompanying CD - is alive with enthusiasm, intimations, and insights into the spirit of concerto.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The concerto is the most conversational musical form, in which one instrument or a few instruments exchange statements with an orchestra. The title of Kerman's discussions is, then, doubly significant: these are conversations in words about conversations in music. The six chapters, originally the 1997^-98 Charles Eliot Norton lectures at Harvard, begin with "Getting Started." Should orchestra or soloist[s] open? Should the nonopening party restate or say something new when it enters? They conclude with "The Sense of an Ending" --big bang or fade away, one or both parties playing, both parties together or at odds, etc.? In between, Kerman considers different concerto strategies and effects--polarity, reciprocity, role-playing, solo virtuosity, and aural texture. Kerman cites many warhorses and a few seldom heard fillies in the concertante repertoire to show how resourceful composers have met the challenges of the grand musical dialogue that is a concerto. Including 46 printed musical examples and a CD of others, this is a marvelous book for music lovers, especially because Kerman is such a good conversationalist. --Ray Olson

Library Journal Review

What a pity this engaging, intelligent book is not a multimedia CD or video series (one of the publication formats of Leonard Bernstein's Norton lectures). Kerman (Write All These Down: Essays on Music) knows that successful music appreciation sessions need "less talk and more music." His lectures provided more music than is found on the accompanying CD (and unlike the CD, they included video clips as well). The book does have photographs and musical examples, but they're crowded at the back. Cues to CD tracks or notated examples appear in the text, but readers must flip pages and hit CD player pause buttons to follow Kerman's ideasÄwhich move from concerto beginnings and endings to the reciprocal interplay of soloists and orchestra ("conversations") to treatment of all this and more by various composers. With added text (to compensate for the missing music), this book would have found readers among musical connoisseurs who appreciate Kerman's imaginative skill in making connections and his unique combination of erudition and accessibility. For large libraries that can handle books with CDs.ÄBonnie Jo Dopp, Univ. of Maryland Lib., College Park (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

The result of the Charles Eliot Norton Lectures that Kerman (emeritus, Univ. of California, Berkeley) delivered at Harvard in 1997-98, this title includes a section of music score examples and a CD of illustrative performances. Kerman treats such questions as "What is a concerto?" "Who starts a concerto--the orchestra or the soloist?" "What is the relationship between the solo and the orchestra?" "What is true virtuosity?" "What is concerto texture?" He answers the questions by analyzing several of the better-known concertos. He includes a wide range of concerto repertory--from Baroque works by Quantz, Vivaldi, and Bach to the Classical concertos of Mozart and Beethoven, the Romantic concertos of Mendelssohn, Saint-Saens, and Tchaikovsky, and contemporary concertos of Hindemith, Berg, Shostakovich, and Carter. This subject has heretofore has been dealt with only in a very limited manner. As the title implies, Kerman writes in a conversational tone--full of enthusiasm and insight. Undergraduate and graduate students; general audiences. R. Pitts; McLennan Community College

Table of Contents

1 Getting Startedp. 1
2 Particularity and Polarityp. 17
3 Reciprocity, Roles, and Relationshipsp. 37
4 Virtuosity / Virtup. 61
5 Diffusion: Concerto Texturesp. 83
6 The Sense of an Endingp. 103
Conversation-stopper (After-words)p. 127
Notesp. 131
Music Examplesp. 137
Creditsp. 165
Indexp. 167
Music on the CDp. 173