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On Russian Music

Richard Taruskin (Author)


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Over the past four decades, Richard Taruskin's publications have redefined the field of Russian-music study. This volume gathers thirty-six essays on composers ranging from Bortnyansky in the eighteenth century to Tarnopolsky in the twenty-first, as well as all of the famous names in between. Some of these pieces, like the ones on Chaikovsky's alleged suicide and on the interpretation of Shostakovich's legacy, have won fame in their own right as decisive contributions to some of the most significant debates in contemporary musicology. An extensive introduction lays out the main issues and a justification of Taruskin's approach, seen both in the light of his intellectual development and in that of the changing intellectual environment, which has been particularly marked by the end of the cold war in Europe.
preface: against utopia / ix

1. Et in Arcadia Ego; or, I Didn’t Know I Was Such a Pessimist until I Wrote This Thing (a talk) / 1

From the New York Times, mostly
2. Only Time Will Cover the Taint / 21
3. “Nationalism”: Colonialism in Disguise? / 25
4. Why Do They All Hate Horowitz? / 30
5. Optimism amid the Rubble / 37
6. A Survivor from the Teutonic Train Wreck / 43
7. Does Nature Call the Tune? / 46
8. Two Stabs at the Universe / 51
Away with the Ives Myth: The “Universe” Is Here at Last / 51
Out of Hibernation: Ives’s Mythical Beast / 55
9. In Search of the “Good” Hindemith Legacy / 60
10. Six Times Six: A Bach Suite Selection / 66
11. A Beethoven Season? / 71
12. Dispelling the Contagious Wagnerian Mist / 81
13. How Talented Composers Become Useless / 86
14. Making a Stand against Sterility / 94
15. A Sturdy Musical Bridge to the Twenty-first Century / 98
16. Calling All Pundits: No More Predictions! / 104
17. In The Rake’s Progress, Love Conquers (Almost) All / 109
18. Markevitch as Icarus / 118
19. Let’s Rescue Poor Schumann from His Rescuers / 124
20. Early Music: Truly Old-Fashioned at Last? / 129
21. Bartók and Stravinsky: Odd Couple Reunited? / 133
22. Wagner’s Antichrist Crashes a Pagan Party / 138
23. A Surrealist Composer Comes to the Rescue of Modernism / 144
24. Corraling a Herd of Musical Mavericks / 153
25. Can We Give Poor Orff a Pass at Last? / 161
26. The Danger of Music and the Case for Control / 165
27. Ezra Pound: A Slim Sound Claim to Musical Immortality / 181
28. Underneath the Dissonance Beat a Brahmsian Heart / 186
29. Enter Boris Goudenow, Just 295 Years Late / 191

For the New Republic, mostly
30. The First Modernist / 195
31. The Dark Side of the Moon / 202
32. Of Kings and Divas / 217
33. The Golden Age of Kitsch / 241
34. No Ear for Music: The Scary Purity of John Cage / 261
35. Sacred Entertainments / 280
36. The Poietic Fallacy / 301
37. The Musical Mystique: Defending Classical Music against Its Devotees / 330

From the scholarly press
38. Revising Revision / 354
39. Back to Whom? Neoclassicism as Ideology / 382
40. She Do the Ring in Different Voices / 406
41. Stravinsky and Us / 420

42. Setting Limits (a talk) / 448

index / 000
Richard Taruskin's many books also include The Oxford History of Western Music, and Defining Russia Musically.
“[Taruskin’s] command of this subject is surely unparalleled. . . . This is an authoritative, consistently challenging, deeply engaging volume of essays - very strongly recommended.”—Philip Borg-Wheeler Classical Music Magazine
“Very entertaining.”—Michael Kimmelman New York Review Of Books
“[Taruskin’s essays] demonstrate his remarkable ability to address both professionals and general readers alike, facilitated by his enviable (and far too rare) gift for conveying complex information in a concise, accessible manner. This collection serves as an essential compendium of Taruskin’s writings on Russian music, many of them updated with new, informative postscripts.”—Notes
“Whether [Taruskin is] validating Susan McClary's sexist charges at Beethoven or implicitly acknowledging his debt to Donald Francis Tovey, reading his essays will make you a better, smarter person.”—Huffington Post
"Taruskin's autobiographical reflections of his engagement with Russian music are fascinating. The author's pre-eminent stature in this field of studies is justification enough for issuing such a collection, and the range of materials is considerable."—Laurel E. Fay, author of Shostakovich: A Life

"The scholarship and writing style in this book are up to Taruskin's usual superior standard. It is especially impressive to see the assurance and acute sense for the important issues at the heart of the topic in the earliest essays."—Sanna Pederson, University of Oklahoma

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