Music Theory Online

The Online Journal of the Society for Music Theory


Volume 7, Number 1,  January 2001
Copyright � 2001 Society for Music Theory

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New Books


Ammer, Christine. Unsung: A History of Women in American Music. Amadeus Press.

book coverWhen the first edition of Unsung was published in 1980 Booklist called it "a publishing event" and The Boston Globe declared that "Unsung is a book that relies on research more than rhetoric and, as such, gives long overdue recognition to the role of women in the development of American music." Unsung became the classic text in the field; this second edition, revised and expanded, extends the book's authority to the present day by surveying a full 200 years of active women in American music.

Ammer has inserted new material throughout the book, rewritten and restructured portions of the text, and added two new chapters. She has added dozens of composers and performers, including women involved in ragtime and jazz from the late 1800s to the present. The book chronicles the long-overlooked achievements made between 1800 and 2000 by early musical pioneers, organists, composers in several different categories from traditional to avant garde, conductors, string and keyboard players, leaders of women�s orchestras, innovators in jazz and other American idioms, opera composers and conductors, teachers, and musical patrons and advocates. (Singers are omitted in both editions, for they compete only with other women in their own voice parts. Rather the book concentrates on women composers, instrumentalists, conductors, orchestra and opera managers, and music educators.) Succinct biographical sketches show the influences on�and influences of�hundreds of musicians.

Since the publication of the first edition women musicians have made some important strides. Students and scholars are increasingly interested in researching and writing the history of women in music. The outlook for today�s musicians has also changed. An increasing number of women perform in first-rank orchestras, a handful of women conductors have gained national attention, and individual instrumentalists have won recognition. Since 1983 three women have been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for their compositions, an award previously won only by men; similarly, in 1999 the Avery Fisher Prize was given to Sarah Chang, Pamela Frank, and Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, the first time in 25 years that any woman has been so acknowledged. As a result, some have suggested that Unsung is no longer an appropriate title for this book. Still, Ammer maintains that given the perspective of two centuries, the achievements of women musicians are still largely overlooked.

1-57467-058-1, 382 pp, 6 x 9", hardcover, $34.95 (also in pbk 1-57467-061-1, $19.95) To be published March 2001

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Burnham, Scott and Michael P. Steinberg, ed. Beethoven and His World. Princeton University Press

Beethoven and His World, Edited by Scott Burnham and Michael P. Steinberg

Few composers even begin to approach Beethoven's pervasive presence in modern Western culture, from the concert hall to the comic strip. Edited by a cultural historian and a music theorist, Beethoven and His World gathers eminent scholars from several disciplines who collectively speak to the range of Beethoven's importance and of our perennial fascination with him.

The contributors address Beethoven's musical works and their cultural contexts. Reinhold Brinkmann explores the post-revolutionary context of Beethoven's "Eroica" Symphony, while Lewis Lockwood establishes a typology of heroism in
works like Fidelio. Elaine Sisman, Nicholas Marston, and Glenn Stanley discuss issues of temporality, memory, and voice in works at the threshold of Beethoven's late style, such as An die Ferne Geliebte, the Cello Sonata op. 102, no. 1, and the somewhat later Piano Sonata op. 109. Peering behind the scenes into Beethoven's workshop, Tilman Skowroneck explains how the young Beethoven chose his pianos, and William Kinderman shows Beethoven in the process of sketching and revising his compositions.

The volume concludes with four essays engaging the broader question of reception—of Beethoven's impact on his world and ours. Christopher Gibbs' study of Beethoven's funeral and its aftermath features documentary material appearing in English for the first time; art historian Alessandra Comini offers an illustrated discussion of Beethoven's ubiquitous and iconic frown; Sanna Pederson takes up the theme of masculinity in critical representations of Beethoven; and Leon Botstein examines the aesthetics and politics of hearing extramusical narratives and plots in Beethoven's music.

Bringing together varied and fresh approaches to the West's most celebrated composer, this collection of essays provides music lovers with an enriched understanding of Beethoven-as man, musician, and phenomenon.

Scott Burnham is Professor of Music at Princeton University and the author of Beethoven Hero (Princeton). Michael P. Steinberg is Professor of History at Cornell University and associate editor of The Music Quarterly. He is the author of The
Meaning of the Salzburg Festival

The Bard Music Festival

0-691-07073-3 Paperback $19.95 US and L12.50 UK
0-691-07072-5 Cloth $55.00 US and L35.00 UK
350 pages, 6 x 9.

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Hadlock, Heather. Mad Loves: Women and Music in Offenbach's Les Contes d'Hoffmann. Princeton University Press

Mad Loves: Women and Music in Offenbach's Les Contes d'Hoffmann
Heather Hadlock

In a lively exploration of Jacques Offenbach's final masterpiece, Heather Hadlock shows how Les Contes d'Hoffmann
summed up not only the composer's career but also a century of Romantic culture. A strange fusion of irony and
profundity, frivolity and nightmare, the opera unfolds as a series of dreamlike episodes, peopled by such archetypes as
the Poet, the Beautiful Dying Girl, the Automaton, the Courtesan, and the Mesmerist. Hadlock shows how these episodes comprise a collective unconscious. Her analyses touch on topics ranging from the self-reflexive style of the protagonist and the music, to parallels between nineteenth-century discourses of theater and medical science, to fascination with the hysterical female subject.

Les Contes d'Hoffmann is also examined as both a continuation and a retraction of tendencies in Offenbach's earlier operettas and opera-comiques. Hadlock investigates the political climate of the 1870s that influenced the composer's vision and the reception of his last work. Drawing upon insights from feminist, literary, and cultural theory, she considers how the opera's music and libretto took shape within a complex literary and theatrical tradition. Finally, Hadlock ponders the enigmas posed by the score of this unfinished opera, which has been completed many times and by many different hands since its composer's death shortly before the premiere in 1881. In this book, the "mad loves" that drive Les Contes d'Hoffmann—a poet's love, a daughter's love, erotic love, and fatal attraction to music—become figures for the fascination exercised by opera itself.

Heather Hadlock is Assistant Professor of Musicology at Stanford University.

Princeton Studies in Opera
Carolyn Abbate and Roger Parker, Editors

0-691-05802-4 Cloth $29.95 US and L18.95 UK
176 pages. 1 halftone. 7 music examples. 6 x 9

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Sheinberg, Esti. Irony, Satire, Parody and the Grotesque in the Music of Shostakovich: A Theory of Musical Incongruities. Ashgate Publishing.

Available December 2000.

The music of Shostakovich has been at the centre of interest of both the general public and dedicated scholars througout the last twenty years. Most of the relevant literature, however, is of a biographical nature. The focus of this book is musical irony. It offers new methodologies for the semiotic analysis of music, and inspects the ironical messages in Shostakovich's music independently of political and biographical bias.

Its approach to music is interdisciplinary, comparing musical devices with the artistic principles and literary analyses of satire, irony, parody and the grotesque. Each one of these is firstly inspected and defined as a separate subject, independent of music. The results of these inspections are subsequently applied to music, firstly music in general and then more specifically to the music of Shostakovich. The composer's cultural and historicla milieux are taken into account and, where relevant, inspected and analysed separately before their application to the music.

Keywords: semiotics, Russian music, Russian culture, Shostakovich, ambiguity, incongruity, irony, satire, parody, the grotesque.

The book is focused on theoretical topics directly connected with musical semiotics. Its main theoretical point is the identification of musical correlatives of structures of musical ambiguities.

It relates to Robert Hatten's concept of Musical Correlations, presented in his book Musical Meaning in Beethoven, to Eco's concept of Cultural Units, to Raymond Monelle's concept of Cultural Reality and to Eero Tarasti's inspection of musical processes in time. These ideas are inspected, modified and projected on my own analysis of Structures of Incongruity as the basic source of all modes of humour (musical and general): Irony, Satire, Parody and the Grotesque. On this basis it suggests a new way of interpreting musical ambiguities. Beyond that, and looking at Russian history of ideas, literature and music, it proposes a new way of perceiving and interpreting the music of Shostakovich.

I believe this book is relevant to music theoretical studies beyond the field of musical semiotics. It is directed to musicologists, culture scholars, literature critics, and whomever is interested in the interpretation and understanding of music.

Thank you,

Esti Sheinberg

Dr. Esti Sheinberg
The Faculty of Music
The University of Edinburgh
Alison House
12 Nicolson Square
Edinburgh EH8 9DF
Tel. 0131-650-2420

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Smith, Marian. Ballet and Opera in the Age of Giselle. Princeton University Press.

For Members of Princeton University Press's E-mail List for Music

We are pleased to send you the following information about this newly published book:

Ballet and Opera in the Age of Giselle
Marian Smith

Marian Smith recaptures a rich period in French musical theater when ballet and opera were intimately connected. Focusing on the age of Giselle at the Paris Opera (from the 1830s through the 1840s), Smith offers an unprecedented look at the structural and thematic relationship between the two genres. She argues that a deeper understanding of both ballet and opera-and of nineteenth-century theater-going culture in general-may be gained by examining them within the same framework instead of following the usual practice of telling their histories separately. This handsomely illustrated book ultimately provides a new portrait of the Opera during a period long celebrated for its box-office successes in both genres.

Marian Smith is Associate Professor of Music at the University of Oregon.

Princeton Studies in Opera
Carolyn Abbate and Roger Parker, Editors

0-691-04994-7 Cloth $39.95 US and L26.95 UK
328 pages, 44 halftones, 50 line illus., 19 tables, 6 x 9

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prepared by
Rusty Jones, editorial assistant
Updated 14 November, 2002