If Scruton wants to expand classical music’s audience, he must step away from his professorial lectern.

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MUSIC AS AN ART

The joys and challenges of classical music.

In his latest, Scruton (Aesthetics/Birkbeck Coll. London; Where We Are: The State of Britain Now, 2018, etc.) continues many of the arguments he laid out in Understanding Music (2009). Many of the chapters were previously published in journals and books or delivered as lectures. He begins with the premise that we “live at a critical time for classical music.” In the past, “our musical culture had secure foundations in the church, in the concert halls and in the home….We no longer live in that world.” The author argues that young people today must be taught to discriminate, to recognize “good taste and bad taste in music.” The first part of the book does little to welcome novice listeners with open arms. Those familiar with musical composition or performance will be better equipped to appreciate the topics covered. If, however, listeners are unfamiliar with “diatonically tonal” or “semi-closure on the tonic,” they will be greatly challenged to appreciate Scruton’s discussions of music and cognitive science, music and the moral life, or the philosophy of music. The second section of the book, though still flavored with academese, does a better job of reaching out to serious readers looking to be educated and informed. For Scruton, no “composer is more relevant to us” than Franz Schubert, who could innovate and “enhance the dramatic power and emotional intensity of the whole.” The author is especially good in his discussion of 18th-century composer and harpsichordist Jean-Philippe Rameau, “who advanced the cause of music drama,” and the modern English composer Benjamin Britten, “whose reputation continues to grow both in his home country and around the world.” Scruton’s discussion of film music is illuminating since many listeners become “acquainted with the symphony orchestra through film music.” At the end, he offers a misguided criticism of “the Rock scene” as “a wilderness of repetition, in which nothing new is harvested because nothing new is sown.”

If Scruton wants to expand classical music’s audience, he must step away from his professorial lectern.

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4729-5571-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Bloomsbury Continuum

Review Posted Online: Aug. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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