SCHUBERT'S VIENNA by Raymond Erickson


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 A useful book for those wishing a cram course about one of the 19th century's most prolific composers and his times. Vienna's moniker as the City of Music may suggest a place of flowers and waltzes, but such was not the case at all at the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th, when composer Franz Schubert lived his 31 short years there. Marked first by war and then by a peacetime filled with repression and censorship, Vienna was a city where often the safest place to be was inside. This book methodically details life in Schubert's Vienna. Unlike his musical contemporary Beethoven, who moved in higher social circles, Schubert lived a decidedly middle-class life. It is this social stratum that this volume, edited by Erickson (dean of Arts and Humanities at Queens College, City Univ. of New York), chronicles in meticulous depth. The collection has chapters written by various scholars from around the world on everything from the politics of the times to other popular art forms, such as Viennese theater and Biedermeier painting. The book follows a logical order, beginning with an overview and analysis of the era's repressive politics. Establishing that aura of fear and reign of censorship sets the scene for discussion of their impact on Viennese culture--the retreat to the safety of home, for instance, where music became a vital recreation in the salons--and its art forms. Music was among the safest of the arts, because, given its abstractness, it was almost impossible to prove that a composer had nefarious political thoughts as he wrote a particular piece. Scholarly writing whose readability varies depending on the contributor but overall an asset to the library of anyone interested in music or Vienna. (140 b&w and 20 color illustrations, not seen)

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-300-07080-2
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Yale Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1997