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A rich and luminous biography of nineteenth century music from the acclaimed author of Debussy: A Painter in Sound.
When one thinks of “great” classical music—music with the most emotional resonance and timelessness—we harken back to the nineteenth century and the Romantic tradition. We recall the sweet melody of a Schubert song, the heroine dying for love in an Italian opera, the swooning orchestration of a Tchaikovsky symphony.
The emotional resonance of nineteenth century has moved generations muscians and resonated with countless listeners. It has inspired artists and writers. But no writer until how has adopted such a vividly insightful narrative approach as Stephen Walsh and he shows how there is more to Romantic music that meets the eye—and the ear.
With authority, insight, and passion, The Beloved Vision, links the music history of this singular epoch to the ideas that lay behind Romanticism in all its manifestations. In this complete, entertaining, and singularly readable account, we come to understand the entire phase in music history that has become the mainstay of the twentieth and twenty-first century concert and operatic repertoire. We also come to understand Beethoven, Mahler, Schubert, Chopin, and Wagner anew.
The narrative begins in the eighteenth century, with C.P.E. Bach, Haydn and the literary movement known as Sturm und Drang, seen as a reaction of the individual artist to the confident certainties of the Enlightenment. The windows are flung open, and everything to do with style, form, even technique, is exposed to the emotional and intellectual weather, the impulses and preferences of the individual composer. Risk taking—the braving of the unknown—was certainly an important part of what the composers wanted to do, as true of Chopin and Verdi as it is of Berlioz and Wagner. It's an exciting, colorful, story, told with passion but also with the precision and clarity of detail for which Stephen Walsh is so widely admired.
The Beloved Vision is a cultural tour de force, by turns bold, challenging, and immensely stimulating.
Stephen Walsh is Emeritus Professor of Music at Cardiff University and the author of a number of books on music including Debussy: A Painter in Sound, Musorgsky and His Circle and the prizewinning, two-volume biography of Igor Stravinsky. He served for many years as deputy music critic for The Observer and writes reviews for a variety of publications.
Praise for Stephen Walsh:
“[Debussy] shines a welcome light on the composer, his music, and his times.” Library Journal
“Perceptive and authoritative. . . . A sensuous portrait of an iconic composer. . . . A richly detailed life of a modernist master.” Kirkus (starred)
“Stephen Walsh has followed his magnificent, two-volume Stravinsky biography with this smaller but no less brilliant gem of a book on Debussy. Combining psychological perspicacity about his subject’s life with deep insight into his music, Walsh has made me not only better understand the composer—he has also made me want to re-listen to and re-reflect upon every piece that Debussy ever wrote.” Harvey Sachs, author of Toscanini: Musician of Conscience
“Stephen Walsh’s Debussy: A Painter in Sound articulates with skill, taste and flashes of humor the evolution of an artistic giant who preferred to leave things ‘half said.’ It is impeccably researched and intellectually engrossing—a thorough and important study of the composer who forever changed the direction of music in our time.” Stuart Isacoff, author of When the World Stopped to Listen: Van Cliburn’s Cold War Triumph and
“In Debussy Stephen Walsh has produced a wonderfully detailed biography of a truly ground-breaking composer. This book should be of interest to any Debussy enthusiast.” John Powell, author of Why You Love Music and How Music Works
“Compelling. . . . Finely tuned. . . . [Walsh] employs a delightfully fluent prose to carry the general reader along.”— Kathryn Hughes, The Guardian
“[A] wonderfully warm, wise and witty book about the greatest French composer of the modern era. As a comprehensive and integrated survey of Debussy’s life and work, it could hardly be bettered.”
Rupert Christiansen Literary Review
“Walsh is one of our most insightful writers on music, and his judgment always illuminates what it touches. . . . Published to mark the centenary of the composer’s death, Debussy: A Painter in Sound concentrates on what truly matters.” Philip Hensher The Spectator
“An enjoyable and impressive achievement. . . . Lively yet learned. . . . Walsh depicts Debussy’s Paris with the same verve and scholarship that he applies to the man.” he Economist