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Critical Entertainments

Critical Entertainments

Music Old and New

Charles Rosen

ISBN 9780674006843

Publication date: 11/30/2001

An extraordinarily gifted musician and writer, Charles Rosen is a peerless commentator on the history and performance of music. Critical Entertainments brings together many of the essays that have established him as one of the most influential and eloquent voices in the field of music in our time.

These essays cover a broad range of musical forms, historical periods, and issues—from Bach through Brahms to Carter and Schoenberg, from contrapuntal keyboard music to opera, from performance practices to music history as a discipline. They revisit Rosen’s favorite subjects and pursue some less familiar paths. They court controversy (with strong opinions about performance on historical instruments, the so-called New Musicology, and the alleged “death” of classical music) and offer enlightenment on subjects as diverse as music dictionaries and the aesthetics of stage fright. All are unified by Rosen’s abiding concerns and incomparable style. In sum, Critical Entertainments is a treasury of the vast learning, wit, and insight that we have come to expect from this remarkable writer. It will delight all music lovers.


  • [A] stimulating read...Over the course of 300 pages, Rosen addresses such disparate subjects as stage fright, the keyboard music of Bach and Handel, the libretto for "Le Nozze di Figaro," Brahms as classicist and subversive, the 1980 edition of the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, and the "Double Concerto" (1961) by the American composer Elliott Carter. Rosen casts a skeptical eye on the politicized musicology that occasionally passed for scholarship in the early 1990s, while admiring certain practitioners of this dubious trade.

    —Tim Page, Washington Post Book World


  • Charles Rosen was a concert pianist, Professor of Music and Social Thought at the University of Chicago, and the author of numerous books, including The Classical Style, The Romantic Generation (Harvard), and Freedom and the Arts (Harvard).

Book Details

  • 336 pages
  • 6-3/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press

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