Cover image for Composers on modern musical culture : an anthology of readings on twentieth-century music
Composers on modern musical culture : an anthology of readings on twentieth-century music
Simms, Bryan R.
Publication Information:
New York : Schirmer Books, [1999]

Physical Description:
xiii, 286 pages : music ; 24 cm
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML197 .C748 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Composers on Modern Musical Culture focuses on issues of composition and style through a collection of original writings by major 20th century composers. Students are engaged by the wide spectrum of issues and composers that are represented.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Simms (USC) may have compiled this collection for his graduate students. Faculty will know these 30 shortish "readings" by 27 composers, but undergraduates will likely be alienated by them. Collectively they suggest that 20th-century composers' worst enemy is their own prose--long-winded, graceless, sometimes totally opaque. Many contributions are unattractively egocentric (Kurt Weill comes to mind; had he not existed, one would not need to invent him, yet he ridicules Wagner). Tediously tilting at windmills, most of the composers seem hopelessly dated, their vocabulary turgid, their targets and their advocacies of marginal interest at the end of their century. This reviewer wonders how Simms selected them. The tiny Debussy piece, ironically amusing, is not very revealing; Vaughan Williams on nationalism in music is very old hat; Virgil Thomson's attempt to analyze jazz in 1924 is, by Simms's own admission, "limited." Fortunately, one also encounters pleasurable pieces by Koechlin (surprise!), Berio, Harbison, Ravel, Ellington, and a few others, however briefly, and Simms's brief introductions to each selection are excellent, his notes good, his bibliography useful. In sum, the book at best lacks zest; at worst, it is indigestible. Recommended for graduate students only (who are cautioned to take the contents with more than a few grains of salt). W. Metcalfe; University of Vermont