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French Music Since Berlioz [Book Review]

Rowden, Clair Sophie ORCID: 2008. French Music Since Berlioz [Book Review]. Musicology Australia 30 (1) , pp. 135-140. 10.1080/08145857.2008.10416749

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In the preface to French Music Since Berlioz, the editors point out straight away what the book does not attempt to cover. This disclaimer, aimed at pernickety reviewers like me, smacks immediately of honesty but also of lack of ambition, and after reading the whole book, a certain lack of editorial homogeneity. One gets the feeling of covering up the cracks, despite claims that the book will focus on the social and political context of music and music-making, as well as opening up different perspectives on French music and suggesting new avenues for exploration. At its best, French Music Since Berlioz manages to do both, but this is not the dominant trend of this work-focused volume. The organization of the material is an example of the lack of a cohesive editorial strategy. The editors seem to have each divvied up their area of knowledge, the material before 1918 organized by genre, and thereafter in chronological chunks. Some of the best chapters are situated in the first half of the book, whereas the parcelling up of decades from 1920 onwards, while corresponding to certain ‘schools’ of composers and aesthetics, effectively cuts the different composers' æuvres into ‘bleeding chunks’ that are also sometimes a little repetitive. This might also make the book harder to use for its designed audience, the undergraduate music student. This is where such a book comes into its own, as a textbook for all those French music courses taught by the likes of mysels As a piece of research, it does not always hit the mark, but as a resource for students, it provides much valuable information.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Music
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > ML Literature of music
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
ISSN: 0814-5857
Last Modified: 21 Oct 2022 08:49

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