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Most popular 20th century & contemporary classical music books

The most popular 20th century & contemporary classical music books currently available. Updated weekly.
Passionate Spirit: The Life of Alma Mahler
When Words Fail: A Life with Music, War and Peace
When Words Fail: A Life with Music, War and Peace
Lark Ascending: The Music of the British Landscape
His unique and intimate history of a nation celebrates the British countryside as a living, working, and occasionally rancorous environment - rather than an unaffected idyll - that forged a nation's musical personality.
Soundscapes: A Musician's Journey through Life and Death
When he awoke, he found his understanding of the world - and beyond - fundamentally altered. This surprising and rewarding memoir offers a singular perspective on creative endeavour: the rigours of learning, the challenges of performance and the spiritual nourishment that drives us on.
Silent Musician: Why Conducting Matters
Exploring the relationships with the musicians and music they conduct, and the public and personal responsibilities they face, leading conductor Mark Wigglesworth writes with engaging honesty about the role for any music lover curious to know whether or not the profession really matters.
Silent Musician: Why Conducting Matters
A conductor is one of classical music's most recognisable but misunderstood figures, attracting so many questions:'Surely orchestras can play perfectly well without you?
Dear Green Sounds - Glasgow's Music Through Time and Buildings: The Apollo, Glasgow Pavilion, Mono, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, King Tut's Wah Wah Hut and More
Glasgow has always been known for its live music and its buildings and venues that play host to local and touring acts are much loved. Written by various music writers, Dear Green Sounds tells the story of Glasgow's music history though time and buildings.
Gerald Finzi: An English Composer
The music of Gerald Finzi, whose popularity has enjoyed a great resurgence, is rooted in the tradition of Elgar, Parry, Vaughan Williams and those composers for whom song writing was a principal means of expression. This biography reveals Finzi as a more complex and engaged figure than he is often given credit for.
England Resounding: Elgar, Vaughan Williams, Britten and the English Musical Renaissance
Silence: Lectures and Writings
Dearest Lenny: Letters from Japan and the Making of the World Maestro
Through personal letters from little known Japanese individuals that had never been studied before, Dearest Lenny interweaves an intimate story of love and relationships with a history of Leonard Bernstein's transformation from an American icon to the world maestro during the second half of the twentieth century.
Erik Satie: Sheet Music for Piano: From Beginner to Intermediate; Over 25 masterpieces
Designed for easy reading, with fingerings clearly marked, and helpfully grouped by level of difficulty, each book contains pieces to delight lovers of the classical masterpieces, and in this case includes various sarabands and Gymnopedie.
Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century
Alex Ross's sweeping history of twentieth-century classical music, winner of the Guardian First Book Award, is a gripping account of a musical revolution.
Pierre Boulez and the Piano: A Study in Style and Technique
Foreground Music: A Life in Fifteen Gigs
A chronicle of a lifetime's passion for gig-going, by one of British television's most respected writers.
I remember
for SA and pianoI remember sets a text reflecting on the wonder of the natural world and the people who shape our lives. The stirring melody calls to mind the folksong tradition, and is underpinned by a gently flowing piano accompaniment.
Music of the Soviet Era: 1917-1991
Dmitry Shostakovich
A vivid, absorbing new biography of Dmitry Shostakovich.
Sviatoslav Richter: Notebooks and Conversations
'To Richter (no first name necessary), warm greetings to the best pianist in the Soviet Union - indeed in the whole world.' ProkofievThroughout a life dedicated to music, Richter maintained a stubborn silence about his own ideals and aspirations.
Eccentric Melody
Holst: The Planets
Igor Stravinsky
Igor Stravinsky was a celebrity composer in an increasingly celebrity-obsessed age. He was a true modern, a man of his time. Stravinsky's extraordinary music reflected and shaped his own times, and resonates with audiences even today. Stravinsky tells of a colourful life lived against the backdrop of the twentieth century's wars and revolutions.
Michael Tippett: The Biography
The first full-length biography of Michael Tippett (1905-1998), one of 20th-century Britain's great visionary composers.
Delius As I Knew Him
This is a new edition of Eric Fenby's famous book which has not been available in authorised form for some years. It is a memoir of the last six years of the composer's life when Fenby, then a young organist from Scarborough, volunteered to live in Grez-sur-Loing to help the blind and partly paralysed Delius to continue to compose.
Experimental Music Since 1970
What is experimental music today? This book offers an up to date survey of this field for anyone with an interest, from seasoned practitioners to curious readers. This book takes the stance that experimental music is not a limited historical event, but is a proliferation of approaches to sound that reveals much about present-day experience. An experimental work is not identifiable by its sound alone, but by the nature of the questions it poses and its openness to the sounding event., Experimentation is a way of working. It pushes past that which is known to discover what lies beyond it, finding new knowledge, forms, and relationships, or accepting a state of uncertainty. For each of these composers and sound artists, craft is developed and transformed in response to the questions they bring to their work., Scientific, perceptual, or social phenomena become catalysts in the operation of the work. These practices are not presented according to a chronology, a set of techniques, or social groupings. Instead, they are organized according to the content areas that are their subjects, including resonance, harmony, objects, shapes, perception, language, interaction, sites, and histories., Musical materials may be subject, among other treatments, to systemization, observation, examination, magnification, fragmentation, translation, or destabilization. These restless and exploratory modes of engagement have continued to develop over recent decades, expanding the scope of both musical practice and listening.
Applying Karnatic Rhythmical Techniques to Western Music
National Identity in Contemporary Australian Opera: Myths Reconsidered
Rite of Spring
The story behind the scandalous first performance of one of the most influential works in the history of music.
Three Venus Haiku
Benjamin Britten: A Life in the Twentieth Century
Presents an account of Britten's life, exploring his deeply held and controversial pacifism; his complex forty-year relationship with Peter Pears; and his creation of an artistic community in Aldeburgh. This book helps us understand the relationship of Britten's music to his life, and takes us as far into its alchemy as we are ever likely to go.
Dance Poem
Noise Music: A History
Looks at the phenomenon of noise in music, from experimental music of the early 20th century to the Japanese noise music and glitch electronica. This work situates different musics in their cultural and historical context, and analyses them in terms of cultural aesthetics.
A biography of Maurice Ravel (1875-1937), by one of the leading scholars of nineteenth- and twentieth-century French music, that is based on a wealth of written and oral evidence, some newly translated and some derived from interviews with the composer's friends and associates.
Essential Britten: A Pocket Guide for the Britten Centenary
Benjamin Britten was one of the greatest composers of the twentieth century. An indispensable source of fresh insights into this towering figure in British music, this is an updated edition of the Faber Pocket Guide to Britten, including the full text of Britten's speech On Receiving the First Aspen Award.
Schoenberg and Hollywood Modernism
Schoenberg is often viewed as an isolated composer who was ill-at-ease in exile. Kenneth H. Marcus shows that, contrary to this perception, Schoenberg was deeply involved in the cultural and intellectual environment in which he found himself, and had multiple connections in Hollywood as well as within academia.
Music Lessons: The College de France Lectures
Rubble Music: Occupying the Ruins of Postwar Berlin, 1945-1950
In Rubble Music, Abby Anderton explores the classical music culture of postwar Berlin, analyzing archival documents, period sources, and musical scores to identify the sound of civilian suffering after urban catastrophe.
Summertime: George Gershwin's Life in Music
The life of a beloved American composer reflected through his music, writings and letters.
Cambridge Companion to Debussy
This Companion offers insights into Debussy's character, his environment and his music, especially the roles of nature and eroticism in his music. His works are discussed through the themes of sonority, rhythm, tonality and form, with closing chapters on performance and reception at the start of the new century.
Imogen Holst: A Life in Music: Revised Edition
This paperback edition is updated to include new insights into Holst's life and work resulting from the discovery of important unseen archival materials.
Modern Music and After
Over the course of three decades, Modern Music and After has earned its place as the standard work on the processes of musical renewal that began in 1945. It is essential reading for the enquiring listener, and is used widely in university and conservatory courses.
John Barry: A Sixties Theme: From James Bond to Midnight Cowboy
Arguably the most important popular British composer of the 20th century, John Barry (1933-2011) enjoyed a career that spanned over fifty years, in which time he won five Academy Awards for pictures includingBorn Free, Out of Africa and Dances with Wolves.
Corresponding with Carlos: A Biography of Carlos Kleiber
Forbidden Music: The Jewish Composers Banned by the Nazis
Looks at the actual contribution of Jewish composers in Germany and Austria before 1933, at their increasingly precarious position between then and 1939, at the forced emigration of composers and performers before and during the war, and at the emaciated post-war musical life of Germany and Austria.
Visions of Amen: Early Life and Music of Olivier Messian
Leonard Bernstein Letters
An extraordinary selection of revealing letters to and from one of the titans of 20th-century music
Graph Music of Morton Feldman
David Cline provides a detailed analysis of Morton Feldman's groundbreaking graph music and its considerable impact upon the development of post-war classical music. This book highlights the influence of contemporary art on Feldman's works and explores his relationships with Earle Brown, John Cage, Christian Wolff and David Tudor.
Spectral Piano: From Liszt, Scriabin, and Debussy to the Digital Age
The most influential compositional movement of the past fifty years, spectralism was informed by digital technology but also extended the aesthetics of pianist-composers such as Liszt, Scriabin and Debussy. In The Spectral Piano, Marilyn Nonken explores these shared fascinations and the parallels between the movement's contemporary aesthetics and psychological research.