Variations on the Canon

Variations on the Canon

Essays on Music from Bach to Boulez in Honor of Charles Rosen on His Eightieth Birthday

Edited by Robert Curry, David Gable, Robert L. Marshall


University of Rochester Press



Masterful essays honoring the great pianist and critic Charles Rosen, on masterpieces from Bach and Beethoven to Chopin, Verdi, and Stockhausen.
Charles Rosen, the pianist and man of letters, is perhaps the single most influential writer on music of the past half-century. While Rosen's vast range as a writer and performer is encyclopedic, it has focused particularly on the living "canonical" repertory extending from Bach to Boulez. Inspired in its liveliness and variety of critical approaches by Charles Rosen's challenging work, Variations on the Canon offers original essays by some of the world's most eminent musical scholars. Contributors address such issues as style and compositional technique, genre, influence and modeling, and reception history; develop insights afforded by close examination of compositional sketches; and consider what language and metaphors might most meaningfully convey insights into music. However diverse the modes of inquiry, each essay sheds new light on the works of those composers posterity has deemed central to the modern Western musical tradition.

Contributors: Pierre Boulez, Scott Burnham, Elliott Carter, Robert Curry, Walter Frisch, David Gable, Philip Gossett, Jeffrey Kallberg, Joseph Kerman, Richard Kramer, William Kinderman, Lewis Lockwood, Sir Charles Mackerras, Robert L. Marshall, Robert P. Morgan, Charles Rosen, Julian Rushton, David Schulenberg, László Somfai, Leo Treitler, James Webster, and Robert Winter.

Robert Curry is principal of the Conservatorium High School and honorary senior lecturer in the Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Sydney; David Gable is Assistant Professor of Music at Clark-Atlanta University; Robert L. Marshall is Louis, Frances, and Jeffrey Sachar Professor Emeritus of Music at Brandeis University.


October 2008
2 colour, 4 black and white, 79 line illustrations
395 pages
9x6 in
Eastman Studies in Music
ISBN: 9781580462853
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
University of Rochester Press
BIC AVA, 1D, 2AB, 3J
BISAC MUS020000, MUS007000, MUS050000
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Table of Contents

Fugue and Its Discontents - Joseph Kerman
Fugues, Form, and Fingering: Sonata Style in Bach's Preludes and Fugues - David Schulenberg
Notational Irregularities as Attributes of a New Style: The Case of Haydn's "Sun" Quartet in F Minor, Op. 20, no. 5 - Laszlo Somfai
The Fugal Moment: On a Few Bars in Mozart's Quintet in C Major, K. 515 - Richard Kramer
A Tale of Two Quintets: Mozart's K. 452 and Beethoven's Opus 16 - William Kinderman
Vestas Feuer: Beethoven on the Path to Leonore - Lewis Lockwood
Sonority and Structure: Observations on Beethoven's Early and Middle-Period Piano Compositions - Robert L. Marshall
Recomposing the Grosse Fuge: Beethoven and Opus 134 - Prof. Robert Winter
Schubert, the Tarantella, and the Quartettsatz, D. 703 - Julian Rushton
On the Scherzando Nocturne - Jeffrey Kallberg
Chopin's Modular Forms - Robert P. Morgan
The Hot and the Cold: Verdi Writes to Antonio Somma about Re Lear - Philip Gossett
The Ironic German: Schoenberg and the Serenade, Op. 24 - Walter Frisch
Words for the Surface: Boulez, Stockhausen, and "Allover" Painting - David Gable
Rosen's Modernist Haydn - James Webster
Facile Metaphors, Hidden Gaps, Short Circuits: Should We Adore Adorno? - Leo Treitler
The Music of a Classical Style - Scott Burnham
Montaigne hors de son propos - Charles Rosen
Tribute: Une culture vraiment intimidante - Pierre Boulez
Tribute: Charles Rosen for His Eightieth Birthday - Elliott Carter
Tribute: Charles Rosen: A Personal Appreciation by a Contemporary - Charles Mackerras
Appendix 1: A Discography of the Recordings of Charles Rosen - David Gable
Appendix 2: A Bibliography of the Writings of Charles Rosen - Robert Curry


(Charles Rosen's) reviews show him tackling some of the major issues and names in musicology with an authority that few could muster and in a style that is compulsively readable, a combination of acid and elegance. . . . A series of essays by well-established scholars covering subject areas associated with the honoree (and) three short tributes from Pierre Boulez, Elliot Carter, and Charles Mackerras. MUSIC & LETTERS (W. Dean Sutcliffe)

When it comes to superlatives, . . . (pianist and author) Charles Rosen is the genuine article. . . . All of the essays in this fine book are insightful or informative. . . . For (Scott) Burnham, . . . Rosen's readers "are in for something special." The same can be said for readers of this book. EARLY MUSIC AMERICA (Mark Kroll)

The eminence of most contributors is matched by the eminence of the composers discussed: from Bach to Boulez and Stockhausen via Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, Verdi, Brahms and Schoenberg. TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT (Peter Williams)

It is difficult to imagine a more intellectually invigorating and heartfelt tribute to the man Mackerras rightly describes as "one of the truly great musical minds of our time". INTERNATIONAL PIANO (Julian Haylock)

Each of the essays . . . is on a subject that Rosen himself has written on (or music that he's recorded) with magisterial authority. . . . The final section comprises a trio of short tributes by three "big names" -- Pierre Boulez, Elliott Carter, and Charles Mackerras. . . . (It) made me keen to go back to the music and hear it again for myself, through more enlightened ears. One can't ask more from a piece of writing about music than that. AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE (Mark L. Lehman)

As fine a collection of writings on music as has been created in our time. --Maynard Solomon, author of Mozart: A Life, and Late Beethoven: Music, Thought, Imagination

It is hard to imagine a more vivid testimony to the far-reaching and enduring impact of Charles Rosen's musical thoughts, words, and deeds over the last half century than the extraordinary line-up of scholars assembled in these pages. The copious new insights these essays offer shows how much we can learn through encounters with Rosen's provocative, inspiring, and energizing writings and performances, all usefully cataloged in the extensive discography and bibliography. --Joseph Auner, Tufts University

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