The Frontiers of Meaning

Charles Rosen


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Kahn & Averill
30 September 1998
ISBN: 9781871082654
148 pages

From the publisher

What does it mean to understand music? What, if anything, does music mean? Composers, performers, listeners, and academics may answer these questions differently, but what sense of music do they share? When music seems unfamiliar or unlike anything we have heard before, we may say that we don't "like" it. How is taking pleasure from music related to understanding it? This book explores these and other issues as they arise in various musical contexts. Performers' interpretations may be filled with errors, after all, that then become part of a tradition; a composer's work may be variously assessed by his or her contemporaries - an account of how Beethoven's reputation was established so early is included - and how musical analysis can mislead as well as enhance understanding of a composition. Originally the content of three lectures given in Rome in 1993 - "The Frontiers of Nonsense", "How To Become Immortal" and "Explaining the Obvious" - this work offers a study of music, as text, as performance, and as listening experience.