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The Classical Revolution: Thoughts on New Music in the 21st Century [Hardcover]

John Borstlap
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Dec 13 2012 0810884577 978-0810884571
The Classical Revolution studies the recent emergence of a new brand of classical music, one rooted in “pre-modern” tonal traditions. Through polemical essays on the conflict between re-emergent tradition and the usual, bland “modern music” in which academic atonalism, process music and attempts to borrow some life from pop and world music form a rather isolated territory, Borstlap examines both the philosophical and aesthetic positions of these new classical composers, positions too often misunderstood because they create a new and unexpected category, not in the margins of music life but directly related to the central performance culture. As Borstlap points out, part of the ongoing problem of contemporary music, a problem first created by modernism, is a profound misunderstanding of musical modernism itself. At the heart of his argument is the distinction between music and “sonic art” a distinction that renders superfluous the loaded labels of “progressive” and “conservative” in disputes over music. Addressing questions of cultural identity, musical meaning, and the aesthetics of beauty, The Classical Revolution closely examines the institutional biases of the modern-music establishment and its all-too-solid grip on the production and reception of new music. By drawing attention to new classical composers in a traditionalist mold, Borstlap illustrates how their increasing success in the realm of performance—as opposed to academic study—bespeaks a broader set of trends in serious contemporary composition. The Classical Revolution is an accessible and informative polemic for music lovers with an interest in the meaning of classical music in general, and the classical tradition in particular which seems to be re-emerging in the 21st century. It should equally interest academics, music directors, promoters, programmers, musicians, and music students alike since here, a wide field of new musical experience opens itself up, with a hopeful perspective on the future of music.

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Review

The Classical Revolution: Thoughts on New Music in the 21st Century is rich in discussion worthy arguments. ... Because of the numerous issues raised (including the relationship of originality and aesthetic quality, the relationship with non-European cultures, the importance of spirituality) Borstlap's book about the current issues of composition and a new classicism is an important contribution to musical aesthetics. (Die Tonkunst)

In The Classical Revolution: Thoughts on New Music in the 21st Century, John Borstlap offers an excellent and expansive view of where we now are in the larger world of contemporary art music (music in the tradition of Western classical music), both in America, and from his vantage point, in Europe. (Academic Questions)

The recent. . . article by Dutch composer John Borstlap on the problem of gaining exposure for music written in 'pre-modern' tonal traditions is developed in his new book, taking as a starting point the Orwellian epigram[.] . . . Is the restoration of music traditions desirable or even possible in today's multicultural Europe. How may traditionally-based music each a wide audience in overcoming today's persuasive pop/tv-driven culture? . . . Is this the price we continue to pay for Nazism and a once-great universal art's destruction? Borstlap's solutions from a challenging argument that all who care about music and its place in society should absorb. (Musical Opinion)

About the Author

John Borstlap studied at the Rotterdam Conservatory and has a master’s degree from Cambridge University. His Violin Concerto won prizes at the Prince Pierre Competition in Monaco and the Wieniawski Competition in Poznan (Poland). He received commissions from various institutions, including the Johan Wagenaar Foundation, the Dutch government, and the Culture Company. His chamber music and symphonic works have been performed and recorded for radio broadcasts by – among others – Alwin Bär, Dmitri Ferschtman, Vesko Eschkenazy, Eleonore Pameijer, the Ludwig Trio, the Jacques Thibaud Trio, and the Netherlands Symphony Orchestra, the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra, the Orchestre National de Montpellier, and the New Queen’s Hall Orchestra. A CD with chamber music “Hyperion’s Dream,” was issued by Albany Records in 1997. He is one of the founders of the Composers Group Amsterdam.  

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A cultural rift explored May 20 2013
Format:Hardcover
I can wholeheartedly recommend this book. It deals with a wide range of cultural questions surrounding the issue of modernity. John Borstlap has a passion for the subject and communicates with great precision and thoroughness. He is not afraid to argue his points with force but, I think, always with dignity and a dash of humour.

This book reveals the extent to which modernist ideology has inhibited (after reading Borstlap, I'm tempted to say 'prohibited') any alternative aesthetic principles. It's a real eye-opener; I hadn't realised the extent of the problem.

Despite its controversial findings and forthright tone, 'The Classical Revolution: Thoughts on new music in the 21st century' exudes optimism and can be enjoyed by the non-musician. In fact, anyone with an interest in the cultural activity of our times, with an eye to the future, should read this book.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A cultural rift explored May 20 2013
By Q Cornish - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I can wholeheartedly recommend this book. It deals with a wide range of cultural questions surrounding the issue of modernity. John Borstlap has a passion for the subject and communicates with great precision and thoroughness. He is not afraid to argue his points with force but, I think, always with dignity and a dash of humour.

This book reveals the extent to which modernist ideology has inhibited (after reading Borstlap, I'm tempted to say `prohibited') any alternative aesthetic principles. It's a real eye-opener; I hadn't realised the extent of the problem.

Despite its controversial findings and forthright tone, 'The Classical Revolution: Thoughts on new music in the 21st century' exudes optimism and can be enjoyed by the non-musician. In fact, anyone with an interest in the cultural activity of our times, with an eye to the future, should read this book.
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