First Published in 1990. Information about individual operas and other types of musical theater is scattered throughout the enormous literature of music. This book is an effort to bring that data together by comprehensively indexing plots and descriptions of individual operatic background, criticism and analysis, musical themes and bibliographical references. The principal audience for this general reference guide will be for the non-specialist, but its hoped that persons specialising in opera would also find it useful.
Many of the earliest books, particularly those dating back to the 1900s and before, are now extremely scarce and increasingly expensive. We are republishing these classic works in affordable, high quality, modern editions, using the original text and artwork.
Contemplating Shostakovich marks an important new stage in the understanding of Shostakovich and his working environment. Each chapter covers aspects of the composer's output in the context of his life and cultural milieu. The contributions uncover 'outside' stimuli behind Shostakovich's works, allowing the reader to perceive the motivations behind his artistic choices; at the same time, the nature of those choices offers insights into the workings of the larger world - cultural, social, political - that he inhabited. Thus his often ostensibly quirky choices are revealed as responses - by turns sentimental, moving, sardonic and angry - to the particular conditions, with all their absurdities and contradictions, that he had to negotiate. Here we see the composer emerging from the role of tortured loner of older narratives into that of the gregarious and engaged member of his society that, for better and worse, characterized the everyday reality of his life. This invaluable collection offers remarkable new insight, in both depth and range, into the nature of Shostakovich's working circumstances and of his response to them. The collection contains the seeds for a wide range of new directions in the study of Shostakovich's works and the larger contexts of their creation and reception.
"...Designed to meet the needs of undergraduate college and university students of music. Although directed primarily toward courses in music history or music literature, it is both concise enough and comprehensive enough to be valuable to graduate students taking survey courses in music literature, history, or musicology...particularly helpful in preparation for candidacy exams..."--foreword.