THE ROMANTIC GENERATION by Charles Rosen

THE ROMANTIC GENERATION

Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

 Author/teacher/concert pianist Rosen delivers a monumental follow-up to his award-winning The Classical Style (not reviewed), here concentrating on the generation of European composers who ``came of age'' in the 1820s and 1830s: Liszt, Schumann, Berlioz, Mendelssohn, Bellini, and, first and foremost, Chopin. This is not an easy read. The greater part of Rosen's arguments require not only the ability to read music but also a firm grasp of basic music theory. Although we are promised a CD of musical examples (not received for review), it seems questionable whether it could allow a musical layperson to comprehend the twists and turns of Rosen's analyses. The thrust of those discussions is to illuminate some of the more startling and masterful changes in musical form that occurred as ``Classical'' gave way to ``Romantic.'' Despite the rise of certain specific ``Romantic'' values (such as the worth attached to the musical fragment), Rosen does not find a wide-scale disintegration of form; rather, he sees old forms reconstituted in new and surprising ways. The unexpected hero of Rosen's musings is Chopin. Arguing persuasively (and at length) for Chopin's innovative formal genius, Rosen removes him from the realm of the salon pianist and places him on a par with Bach in his treatment of large-scale counterpoint and the subtlety of his ``inner voices.'' Rosen is no stranger to controversy, and his advocacy of Chopin will seem provocative to some, as will his decision to omit entirely women composers like Fanny Mendelssohn and Clara Schumann on the (questionable) grounds that he does not wish to obscure the ``real tragedy'' that society prevented them from completing the mature work of which they were capable. The compilation of this volume from disparate previously published pieces and lectures may account for an occasional unwieldiness that largely was edited out of Rosen's earlier works. Still, a valuable and important book.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-674-77933-9
Page count: 736pp
Publisher: Harvard Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1995




MORE BY CHARLES ROSEN

NonfictionPIANO NOTES by Charles Rosen
by Charles Rosen
NonfictionROMANTIC POETS, CRITICS, AND OTHER MADMEN by Charles Rosen
by Charles Rosen
NonfictionTHE FRONTIERS OF MEANING by Charles Rosen
by Charles Rosen

SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

IndieCLASSICAL CLASSICS by Ed Nielsen
by Ed Nielsen