Lexicon of Musical Invective: Critical Assaults on Composers Since Beethoven’s Time. Front Cover. Nicolas Slonimsky. Coleman-Ross Company, A few samples from Nicolas Slonimsky’s [ X/rateyourmusic/ref=nosim/,compendium] of abusive classical music reviews. Lexicon of Musical Invective has ratings and 16 reviews. Gary said: I first read this about 40 years ago. It’s a collection of critical hatchet jobs.
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Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Lexicon of Musical Invective: Who says the world of classical music is sedate or even dull? This funny, irascible little book details contemporary critical attacks on virtually all of the great musical figures of the past years. Beethoven is here, along with Liszt, Mahler, Schumann, Strauss, Tchaikovsky, and Wagner Who says the world of classical music is sedate or even dull?
Beethoven is here, along with Liszt, Mahler, Schumann, Strauss, Tchaikovsky, and Wagner — all of whom were skewered by the critics at some point in their careers. No classical music lover or hater! Paperbackpages. Published August 17th by W. Norton Company first published January 1st To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Lexicon of Musical Invectiveplease sign up. Be the first to ask a question about Lexicon of Musical Invective.
Lists with This Book. Mar 04, Gary Inbinder rated it it was amazing Shelves: I first read this about 40 years ago.
Lexicon of Musical Invective: Critical Assaults on Composers Since Beethoven’s Time
It’s a collection of critical hatchet jobs aimed at some of the greatest music ever written. As far as I know, all the great creative geniuses in every art form have, at one time or another, had their works trashed by influential critics.
And the same critics often promoted crap that’s long since been forgotten. Reading these critical beat downs from our perspective can be amusing, but I’m sure the composers didn’t think they were funny if and when they read I first read this about 40 years ago. Reading these critical beat downs from our perspective can be amusing, but I’m sure the composers didn’t think they were funny if and when they read them.
View all 6 comments. An unusual and peevish little book that assembles various critics’ nasty remarks about some of the most glorious music of the Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries. Helps to remind one that the great standards were once dangerously envelope-pushing in terms of style and technique, and offended critics and their “standards” most of all. Numerous composers, including Wagner, have been accused of employing ‘trained cats’ in the orchestra, for example.
You wonder how the alleged taste-makers co An unusual and peevish little book that assembles various critics’ nasty remarks about some of the most glorious music of the Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries.
You wonder how the alleged taste-makers could have been so gloriously onvective about “the music of the future. Even Beethoven got into the act, saying of one critic: Peter Schickele, a serious composer, is the street name of the comedian P. Apr 30, Ruth rated it really liked it.
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These criticisms are bombastic. And thus the invective flows. By the way, the above excerpt is only a scant fourth of the full quote!
Feb 01, Greta rated it really liked it Shelves: The forward to this books mentions: There is certainly no doubt that many critics write pans with an unbridled gusto that seems to be lacking in their usually rarer raves, and these critics often become more famous, or infamous, than their less caustic colleagues Most of us feel constrained, in person, to say politely pleasant things to creativ The forward to this books mentions: Most of us feel constrained, in person, to say politely pleasant things to creative artists no matter what we think of their work; perhaps this penchant of ours endows blisteringly bad reviews with a cathartic strength that makes us read them aloud to our friends even when we don’t agree with the reviewers’ opinions So, there’s a lot of delectable venom in this book.
And I enjoyed every single bit of it. Aug 31, Andrew rated it it was amazing. Not a cover-cover read. Come back to it. Jan 05, Christopher rated it liked it. It’s handily arranged in alphabetic order by composer, so while listening to, say, Bela Bartok’s first piano concerto, you can amuse yourself with a review from the Cincinnati Enquirer: Bartok elected to play his composition dignified by the title Concerto for Pianoforte and Orchestra. Note the ommission of key. Ultra-moderns cannot be bothered with such trifling designations It has been said that the Concerto is based on folk tunes.
They have been successfully concealed. Only tonal chaos arises from the diabolical employment of unrelated keys simultaneously. It eclipses the saddest and sourest moments of Debussy.
To the elderly among the old critics, Slonimsky notes, new music always seems louder than what they are used to. They also often resorted to linguistic similes, comparing new music to “Chinese”, a then-handy symbol of incomprehensibility. He gives some general anecdotes about the world of music reviewing, such as a Russian journalist writing a review on Prokofiev’s “Scythian Suite” before the concert even took place–he was fired when the review appeared but the piece had actually be taken off the programme at the last minute.
There’s even an index of Invective, so if you want to find all reviews making use of the terms “Hideous”, “Grunting”, or even “Feeding Time at Zoo”, you’ll know which pages to turn to. Though the work is entertaining, it’s no essential addition to a home library.
You can read it in an hour at your public or university library. Also, the work was never updated after it ends with the generation of Bartok, Webern, and Varese–and so those hoping to read invective against Boulez, Stockhausen and others won’t find it here.
Mar 24, Howard rated it really liked it. A compendium of pompous, arrogant, exasperated, blockheaded or woefully incorrect statements by “critics” about composers and their greatest or most famous works.
The most lengthy sections are devoted to Liszt, Wagner, Richard Strauss, but just about every composer since Beethoven comes in for some abuse. These reviews, extracted for the most part from newspapers and journals, are generally contemporaneous with the music or composers they pan. Some Russian bozo enthusiastically condemns, with A compendium of pompous, arrogant, exasperated, blockheaded or woefully incorrect statements by “critics” about composers and their greatest or most famous works.
This seems to me truly unforgivable! The funniest reviews tend to be those that contain some degree of truth, though distorted beyond the bounds of propriety.
Conservative critics were always complaining that new musical developments would lead to the “death of music,” and though we all enjoy music today it’s pretty clear that “serious” music in the so-called “classical” tradition has fallen out of favor with the general public.
This book helps to explain how and why that happened. Jul 27, Kristin Shafel rated it really liked it. It was the perfect blend of criticism and humor.
A Young Person’s Guide to Classical Music: Lexicon of Musical Invective
Also great insight to general mindsets and opinions of music and performance practices at the time. I admit I could only read the book one short segment at a time as its content was overwhelmingly negative. That said, it was still interesting to read the cutting personal attacks on the composers rather than critiques just about the music or the performance.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in music history and criticism. This should also be required reading for every composer! Feb 25, Andrea rated it it was amazing Shelves: And it’s useful for reception history research! ,usical fascinating look at the most colorful critical insults on various famous and some not-so-famous composers throughout history.
Notes available for further research. Jan 20, Lydia added it. This is such a hilarious book. Jan 04, Mynameisandycostello rated it really liked it. Slonimsky once declared that the book should be treated as “toilet literature. Jun 23, Jordan Invectve rated it really liked it.
Changed my perception of music again. Mar 22, Craig rated it really liked it. Very funny collection of actual negative reviews written about classical music performances and compositions. Feb 18, Mi rated it it was amazing. So bitter, painful, but hilarious in a certain weird manner.
Maxwell rated it really liked it Mar invectivee, Steve Harper rated it really liked it Jan 02, Donald Lafleur rated it it was amazing Jan 25, Stephanie Sullivan rated it it was amazing Aug 05,