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Music as Thought: Listening to the Symphony in the Age of Beethoven

Mark Evan Bonds



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Princeton University Pres
15 September 2015
Music; Theory of music & musicology; Classical music (c 1750 to c 1830)
Before the nineteenth century, instrumental music was considered inferior to vocal music. Kant described wordless music as more pleasure than culture, and Rousseau dismissed it for its inability to convey concepts. But by the early 1800s, a dramatic shift was under way. Purely instrumental music was now being hailed as a means to knowledge and embraced precisely because of its independence from the limits of language. What had once been perceived as entertainment was heard increasingly as a vehicle of thought. Listening had become a way of knowing. Music as Thought traces the roots of this fundamental shift in attitudes toward listening in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Focusing on responses to the symphony in the age of Beethoven, Mark Evan Bonds draws on contemporary accounts and a range of sources--philosophical, literary, political, and musical--to reveal how this music was experienced by those who heard it first. Music as Thought is a fascinating reinterpretation of the causes and effects of a revolution in listening.
By:   Mark Evan Bonds
Imprint:   Princeton University Pres
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 235mm,  Width: 152mm,  Spine: 11mm
Weight:   28g
ISBN:   9780691168050
ISBN 10:   0691168059
Pages:   208
Publication Date:   15 September 2015
Audience:   Professional and scholarly ,  College/higher education ,  Undergraduate ,  Primary
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Unspecified

Mark Evan Bonds is Professor of Musicology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. His previous books include Wordless Rhetoric: Musical Form and the Metaphor of the Oration and After Beethoven: Imperatives of Originality in the Symphony. He is a former editor in chief of Beethoven Forum.

Reviews for Music as Thought: Listening to the Symphony in the Age of Beethoven

A fascinating new book. --Alex Ross, The New Yorker This is a cogent and well-illustrated account of the theoretical basis for the changes in how instrumental music was listened to in the early decades of the 19th century. Bonds clarifies complex material and piles up evidence to make a convincing case for a 'revolution in listening.' --Patricia Howard, Currents Philosophical discussion of music can easily become dense, but Bonds presents his arguments and evidence in a clear, discernible manner such that readers with little exposure to the philosophical issues of the time period can follow his reasoning and come away illuminated by a first-hand account concerning the reception of the symphony in the first quarter of the nineteenth century. --John Stine, Music Research Forum

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