This magnificent survey of the most popular period in music history is an extended essay embracing music, aesthetics, social history, and politics, by one of the keenest minds writing on music in the world today.
Dahlhaus organizes his book around "watershed" yearsfor example, 1830, the year of the July Revolution in France, and around which coalesce the "demise of the age of art" proclaimed by Heine, the musical consequences of the deaths of Beethoven and Schubert, the simultaneous and dramatic appearance of Chopin and Liszt, Berlioz and Meyerbeer, and Schumann and Mendelssohn. But he keeps us constantly on guard against generalization and cliché. Cherished concepts like Romanticism, tradition, nationalism vs. universality, the musical culture of the bourgeoisie, are put to pointed reevaluation. Always demonstrating the interest in socio-historical influences that is the hallmark of his work, Dahlhaus reminds us of the contradictions, interrelationships, psychological nuances, and riches of musical character and musical life.
Nineteenth-Century Music contains 90 illustrations, the collected captions of which come close to providing a summary of the work and the author's methods. Technical language is kept to a minimum, but while remaining accessible, Dahlhaus challenges, braces, and excites. This is a landmark study that no one seriously interested in music and nineteenth-century European culture will be able to ignore.
In clear and graceful prose, the eminent professor of music at the Technische Universitat Berlin has gathered together the tendencies leading to 19th-century music and further articulated what we receive today as part and parcel of this music, placing it within its historical, social, literary, and geographic context. With penetrating examination, he has illumined and disentangled all the connections that make 19th-century music what it is, enlivening his points by the many pictorial and musical illustrations. An important book for its scholarship, sweep, and readability. Essential for music libraries.-- Philippa Kiraly, Cleveland