Sidney Finkelstein’s contribution to the understanding of music with Composer and Nation is unusual in some respects, and well worth presenting again to a new audience. Only rarely have recent music writers looked at long spans of history. The age of the generalist and training for a long-range perspective have been on the wane since this work first appeared. With the proliferation of scholars and the ever-increasing historical detail available from their work, the task of compiling a one-volume history of music is formidable.
Well written, and intended for both the amateur as well as the musician, this volume approaches a time span of 300 years, from 1700 to the present. The presentation avoids detailed analysis of works and does not aim at complete coverage of historical detail. Instead, Finkelstein surveys major details of what is usually called the modern era from an unpretentious sociological premise, namely that musical values and the relationship of the composer to society are reflected in the musical works. It follows then that the structure and texture of the work would reflect the composer’s view of society and that important musical events offer insight into contemporary social and historical currents. Finkelstein presents an outline of the era from the viewpoint of the musical sociologist.
His lively writing style, in the best tradition of the amateur, and his observation post-removed from the usual musicological context make this new edition a welcome addition to musical and sociological literature.
Updated with a Foreword and Afterword by Professor Carmelo Comberiati. 356 pages.
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