Cover image for Critical entertainments : music old and new
Critical entertainments : music old and new
Rosen, Charles, 1927-2012.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 2000.
Physical Description:
328 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
The aesthetics of stage fright -- The discipline of philology : Oliver Strunk -- Keyboard music of Bach and Handel -- The rediscovery of Haydn -- Desribing Mozart -- Beaumarchais : inventor of modern opera -- Radical, conventional Mozart -- Beethoven's career -- Brahms : influence, plagiarism, and inspiration -- Brams, the subversive -- Brahms : Classicism and the inspiration of awkwardness -- The benefits of authenticity -- Dictionaries : the old Harvard -- Dictionaries : the new Grove's -- The new musicology -- Schoenbert : the possibilities of disquiet -- The performance of contemporary music : Carter's double concerto -- The irrelevance of serious music.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
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ML60 .R7848 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



An extraordinary gifted musician and writer, Charles Rosen is a peerless commentator on the history and performance of music. This book brings together many of the essays that have established him as one of the most influential and eloquent voices in th filed of music in our time.

Author Notes

Charles Rosen is an internationally respected pianist. A pupil of Moriz Rosenthal, he has performed and recorded a wide repertoire from Bach to Pierre Boulez.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Pianist, critic, and musicologist Rosen reviews a book and scores its author for shallow arguments but stimulates his readers to consider alternative viewpoints. Writing on stage fright, he comes out in favor of improvisation rather than strict adherence to the score in performance. He claims Bach wrote music of greater complexity for instructional purposes than Handel did for public performance. Mozart, he says, is distinguished because of his practice of writing "a perfect realization of an extremely conventional form followed by a dramatic transformation." The authenticity that the early music movement prizes is, he avers, the product of recording, because early music's original performances were in small rooms, the music is lost in large halls, and technologically balancing the instruments makes them sound unnatural. Rosen is best on modern music, about which he concludes that people compose music they like, and if 10 listeners love it passionately, that is more important than that 10,000 don't mind hearing it. Although sometimes pedantic, Rosen converts us to his beliefs easily by entertaining as well as enlightening. --Alan Hirsch

Library Journal Review

Fans of Rosen will be delighted with this collection of 18 articles, most of which appeared over the past two decades in the New York Review of Books. A consummate pianist who embraces Beethoven and Elliot Carter with equal fervor, Rosen writes with impressive authority on topics as diverse as Bach's keyboard music and feminist musicology. He is never shy about identifying and then eviscerating adversaries, yet he does so in such a courtly way, and with such lucid, persuasive prose, that they must feel a certain awe and honor. Several of the articles, though, are in need of updating, e.g., the 1981 piece on The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians is largely irrelevant now that the 2000 edition is set for November release. His 1998 defense of modernism, however, is very timely and delivers a sharp rebuke to those who champion "easy listening" contemporary music over more demanding repertory. While the lay reader can appreciate most of the articles, the three pieces on Brahms are thick with musical examples and references to music theory and, as such, are clearly intended for the serious music student. Recommended for all music libraries.--Larry A. Lipkis, Moravian Coll., Bethlehem, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. 1
I Performance and Musicology
1 The Aesthetics of Stage Frightp. 7
2 The Discipline of Philology: Oliver Strunkp. 12
II The Eighteenth Century
3 Keyboard Music of Bach and Handelp. 25
4 The Rediscovering of Haydnp. 54
5 Describing Mozartp. 68
6 Beaumarchais: Inventor of Modern Operap. 74
7 Radical, Conventional Mozartp. 85
8 Beethoven's Careerp. 105
III Brahms
9 Brahms: Influence, Plagiarism, and Inspirationp. 127
10 Brahms the Subversivep. 146
11 Brahms: Classicism and the Inspiration of Awkwardnessp. 162
IV Musical Studies: Contrasting Views
12 The Benefits of Authenticityp. 201
13 Dictionaries: the Old Harvardp. 222
14 Dictionaries: the New Grove'sp. 233
15 The New Musicologyp. 255
V The Crisis of the Modern
16 Schoenberg: The Possibilities of Disquietp. 275
17 The Performance of Contemporary Music: Carter's Double Concertop. 283
18 The Irrelevance of Serious Musicp. 294
Creditsp. 319
Indexp. 321