Leonard Bernstein examines music from every age and place in the search for a worldwide, innate musical grammar. Folk music, pop songs, symphonies, tonal, atonal, well-tempered and ill-tempered works find a place in these discussions. All of them, Mr. Bernstein suggests, are grounded in a universal musical language. Using analogies between music and linguistics, Mr. Bernstein shows how this language can be understood as an aesthetic surface. Drawing on his insights as a master composer and conductor, he also explores what music means below the surface. Finally, Mr. Bernstein analyzes the crisis of twentieth-century music, finding its roots in all that has gone before. Written and delivered in 1973 when Leonard Bernstein was Charles EliotRead more Norton Professor of Poetry at Harvard University, with performances by Mr. Bernstein, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and the Vienna Philharmonic. 780 minutes.
1. Musical Phonology: Explores the origins and development of music and language, with a performance of Mozart's Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K. 550. 104 minutes.
2. Musical Syntax: Compares the structures of music and speech, and discusses the multiple transformations of which both are capable, with examples from Mozart's Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K. 550. 95 minutes.
3. Musical Semantics: Demonstrates layers of meaning in Beethoven's Symphony No. 6 in F Major, Op. 68. 142 minutes.
4. The Delights and Dangers of Ambiguity: Explorations of new tonal fields by composers of the Romantic era. Musical illustrations include: Berlioz's "Romeo Alone" and "The Ball at the Capulets" from Romeo & Juliet, Wagner's "Prelude und Liebestod" from Tristan & Isolde, and Debussy's Prelude a l'apres-midi d'un faune. 142 minutes.
5. The Twentieth Century Crisis: Arnold Schoenberg's movement toward atonality and Gustav Mahler's anticipation of the crisis in twentieth-century music. Includes performances of Ives's The Unanswered Question, Ravel's "Feria" from Rapsodie Espagnole, and Mahler's Symphony No. 9 in D major, 4th movement. 133 minutes.
6. The Poetry of Earth: Examines how Igor Stravinsky kept tonality viable while experimenting freely with dissonance. Includes a complete performance of Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex. 177 minutes.
Oedipus rexby Igor Stravinsky Conductor:
Period: 20th Century Written: 1926-1927; France
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
Tour de ForceDecember 6, 2013By Trevor Graham Cooper See All My Reviews"I first watched these programmes in Boston three years after the Eliot Norton lectures had been given at Harvard, so this review is nostalgic. Analysing the development of music by analogy with Chomsky's Transformational Grammar of the written and spoken language, Bernstein conjures up a clear timeline of changes to our musical language. Forcing us to listen to what may be unpleasant modern music by analysing its component parts, he demonstrates examples of what could be called plagiarism in music. Although criticised as over-simplistic, this is an entertaining and thought-provoking series of lectures aimed at a non-musical audience."Report Abuse
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