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Interpreting Music is a comprehensive essay on understanding musical meaning and performing music meaningfully—“interpreting music” in both senses of the term. Synthesizing and advancing two decades of highly influential work, Lawrence Kramer fundamentally rethinks the concepts of work, score, performance, performativity, interpretation, and meaning—even the very concept of music—while breaking down conventional wisdom and received ideas. Kramer argues that music, far from being closed to interpretation, is ideally open to it, and that musical interpretation is the paradigm of interpretation in general. The book illustrates the many dimensions of interpreting music through a series of case studies drawn from the classical repertoire, but its methods and principles carry over to other repertoires just as they carry beyond music by working through music to wider philosophical and cultural questions.
List of Musical Examples
Lawrence Kramer is Professor of Music and English at Fordham University. He is the author of many books, including Musical Meaning: Toward a Critical History; Opera and Modern Culture; and Why Classical Music Still Matters, all from UC Press.
“Thoughtful and thought-provoking. . . . All present and correct are the qualities noted of Kramer’s impeccable writing: grace, deftness of touch, wide reading.”—Michael Spitzer, University of Liverpool Music & Letters
“Well documented. . . . Recommended.”—Choice
"Clear, trenchant, delightfully opinionated, and thick with virtuosic word play. This book will not disappoint."—Nicholas Cook, author of The Schenker Project: Culture, Race, and Music Theory in Fin-de-siecle Vienna
"Eloquently formulated and laced with wit. A major contribution to critical musicology."—Derek B. Scott, author of Sounds of the Metropolis: The 19th-Century Popular Music Revolution in London, New York, Paris, and Vienna
"In this astonishing performance, Lawrence Kramer challenges us to rethink what it can mean to interpret music as listeners, as scholars, and as performers. Virtuosic, exhilarating, and provocative, this book confronts the conventional wisdom around such topics as hermeneutics, subjectivity, history, analysis, modernism, metaphor, and performance to shape our understanding of music into a virtual new order of things. Kramer's wide-ranging and humane outlook in Interpreting Music
compels us to question what we thought we knew about music and meaning." —Michael Klein, author of Intertextuality in Western Art Music