Music at the Limits

Edward W. Said. With a foreword by Daniel Barenboim

Columbia University Press

Music at the Limits

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Pub Date: May 2009

ISBN: 9780231139373

344 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $32.00

Pub Date: November 2007

ISBN: 9780231139366

344 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $75.00

Pub Date: November 2007

ISBN: 9780231511551

344 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $31.99

Music at the Limits

Edward W. Said. With a foreword by Daniel Barenboim

Columbia University Press

Music at the Limits is the first book to bring together three decades of Edward W. Said's essays and articles on music. Addressing the work of a variety of composers, musicians, and performers, Said carefully draws out music's social, political, and cultural contexts and, as a classically trained pianist, provides rich and often surprising assessments of classical music and opera.

Music at the Limits offers both a fresh perspective on canonical pieces and a celebration of neglected works by contemporary composers. Said faults the Metropolitan Opera in New York for being too conservative and laments the way in which opera superstars like Pavarotti have "reduced opera performance to a minimum of intelligence and a maximum of overproduced noise." He also reflects on the censorship of Wagner in Israel; the worrisome trend of proliferating music festivals; an opera based on the life of Malcolm X; the relationship between music and feminism; the pianist Glenn Gould; and the works of Mozart, Bach, Richard Strauss, and others.

Said wrote his incisive critiques as both an insider and an authority. He saw music as a reflection of his ideas on literature and history and paid close attention to its composition and creative possibilities. Eloquent and surprising, Music at the Limits preserves an important dimension of Said's brilliant intellectual work and cements his reputation as one of the most influential and groundbreaking scholars of the twentieth century.
These penetrating discussions of music, performance, culture, and human nature are refreshing, enlightening, and definitely not to be tossed aside as yesterday's journalism. Booklist
This fine collection by one of the most perceptive music critics of the last half-century is highly recommended. Library Journal
Engaging in his writing about performances. Palo Alto Weekly
[Said] was a thinker of great fervency, and it can make for exciting reading. Rachel Beckles Willson, Times Higher Education Supplement
[Said's] pieces will reward rereadings for many years to come. David Schiff, Nation
Entertaining... marked by tremendous enthusiasm and a depth and breadth of insight that is rare among writers on any subject. Economist
Foreword
Preface
Acknowledgments
Part I: The Eighties
1. The Music Itself: Glenn Gould?s Contrapuntal Vision
2. Remembrances of Things Played: Presence and Memory in the Pianist's Art
3. Pomp and Circumstance (on Musical Festivals)
4. On Richard Strauss
5. Die Walkre, Aida, X
6. Music and Feminism
7. Maestro for the Masses (review of Understanding Toscanini)
8. Middle Age and Performers
9. The Vienna Philharmonic: The Complete Beethoven Symphonies and Concertos
10. The Barber of Seville, Don Giovanni
11. Glenn Gould at the Metropolitan Museum
12. Giulio Cesare
13. Bluebeard's Castle, Erwartung
14. Extreme Occasions (on Celibidache)
15. Peter Sellars's Mozart
16. Andras Schiff at Carnegie Hall
Part II: The Nineties
17. Richard Strauss
18. Wagner and the Met?s Ring
19. Opera Productions (Der Rosenkavalier, House of the Dead, Doctor Faust)
20. Style and Stylessness (Elektra, Semiramide, Katya Kabanova)
21. Alfred Brendel: Words for Music (review of Alfred Brendel's Music Sounded Out: Essays, Lectures, Interviews, Afterthoughts)
22. Die Tote Stadt, Fidelio, The Death of Klinghoffer
23. Uncertainties of Style (The Ghosts of Versailles, Die Soldaten)
24. Musical Retrospection
25. The Bard Festival
26. The Importance of Being Unfaithful to Wagner
27. Music as Gesture (on Solti)
28. Les Troyens
29.Child's Play (review of Maynard Solomon's Mozart: A Life)
30. 32 Short Films About Glenn Gould
31. Bach's Genius, Schumann's Eccentricity, Chopin's Ruthlessness, Rosen's Gift (review of Charles Rosen's The Romantic Generation)
32. Why Listen to Boulez?
33. Hindemith and Mozart
34. Review of Michael Tanner's Wagner
35. In the Chair (review of Peter Ostwald's Glenn Gould and the Tragedy of Genius)
36. On Fidelio
37. Music and Spectacle (La Cenerentola and The Rake's Progress)
38. Review of Gottfried Wagner's He Who Does Not Howl with the Wolf: The Wagner Legacy—An Autobiography
39. Bach for the Masses
Part III: 2000 and Beyond
40. Daniel Barenboim (Bonding Across Cultural Boundaries)
41. Glenn Gould, the Virtuoso as Intellectual
42. Cosmic Ambition (review of Christoph Wolff's Johann Sebastian Bach: The Learned Musician)
43. Barenboim and the Wagner Taboo
44. Untimely Meditations (review of Maynard Solomon's Late Beethoven)
Appendix: Bach/Beethoven
Index
Web Features:

About the Author

Edward W. Said (1935-2003) was University Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. He was the music critic for the Nation and the author of numerous books, including Out of Place, Culture and Imperialism, and Orientalism. His books with Columbia University Press include Joseph Conrad and the Fiction of Autobiography, Humanism and Democratic Criticism, Beginnings: Intention and Method, and Musical Elaborations.