Jan. 16th, 2017

kenjari: (piano)
Essays on Music
by Alfred Einstein

This book of essays by musicologist Einstein largely focuses on music of the 17th, 18th, and early 19th centuries. Einstein, who died in 1952, was an important musicologist of the first half of the 20th century, so these essays are in several ways somewhat old-fashioned. It's obvious that he adheres to both the "great man*" and evolutionary approaches to music history. Thus, I most enjoyed the essays in which he illuminates a more obscure bit of music history, such as the musicological interest of a series of letters by a 17th century Italian friar, or the circumstances which suggest that at the end of his life, Mozart was asked to set a libretto based on The Tempest. Einstein is also quite a good writer, making his prose enjoyable and occasionally witty.

* And I do mean "man". Einstein regrettably shows no real interest in female musicians or composers even when they enter into the stories he is telling. Plus, he does make a pretty sexist parenthetical comment in one of the essays. And this from a man who taught at Smith!


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