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John Simon on Music: Criticism 1979-2005 Hardcover – Aug 30 2005

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 504 pages
  • Publisher: Hal Leonard; Hardcover edition (Aug. 30 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1557835063
  • ISBN-13: 978-1557835062
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 1 x 23.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 953 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,267,259 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

About the Author

John Simon (1925-) was born in Yugoslavia and awarded his PhD in comparative literature from Harvard University. He has written theatre, film, music, and book reviews for many eminent publications, inc. New York, Esquire, Hudson Review, Opera News, and the New York Times Book Review. He is a past winner of the George Jean Nathan Award and the George Polk Award for Film Criticism. He lives in New York City. Ned Rorem is the accomplished composer, diarist, and essayist.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0xa2ba7278) out of 5 stars 2 reviews
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa2490fe4) out of 5 stars Reviews and Essays from Forty Years of Music Sept. 7 2005
By John Matlock - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Born in Yugoslavia John Simon is one of the few remaining classical critics. His scope is vast, this book is on music but there are other books on theater and film. His insight into music comes not from his performing ability (he doesn't) but from his love. His comments display his wide knowledge of not only music but the entire range of the performing arts.

The book contains four big sections on Criticism from the 1970s, 80s, 90s and the 2,000s. Within each section there are reviews and essays that are arranged chronologically according to the dates they were originally published in the various magazines or newspapers for which Mr. Simon writes.

You will find Mr. Simon's writing to be erudite and a pleasure to read. His topics are far ranging, and he is able to see connections between his current subject and a wide range of past events.

Very enjoyable reading.
15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa24b34b0) out of 5 stars Okay, but ... June 18 2006
By Steve Schwartz, Austin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I've never particularly cared for John Simon's prose. To me, he writes with a poker up his butt. It's a style easily sent up by someone with a thesaurus and a knowledge of English grammar. However, I still enjoyed the book. Its main flaw is also its chief virtue. John Simon is a music-lover, rather than a musician. He has no musical technical expertise (he doesn't even read music) and furthermore doesn't seem to want it. We get a lot of what Mr. Simon does know -- mostly about literature, language, and drama. Thus, a good deal of the book is about vocal music, particularly about opera. You may find yourself wondering why you need to hear him recite the plot of Pelleas et Melisande or of Jenufa, since neither tells you why either of those operas have stuck around. The music gives them their power. I can't think of one opera loved for its plot, unless its Bluebeard's Castle (whose libretto Simon discusses brilliantly, I admit). Nevertheless, Simon is a culture hound of wide range, and the rare insight he gives about music usually relates to other works and other arts -- the kind of insight beyond the experience of most musicians. His discussions of Janacek operatic music are particularly acute and tell you something valuable about its dramatic strengths. Fairly endearing are his enthusiasms for minor composers, something usually missing from his discussions on theater and film, where he usually criticizes from much too safe a position (Bergman a great director? *There's* news). I tend to trust more a critic who occasionally goes off the deep end for some bauble than one who wants to commune only with the Certifiably Great. That's where the "music-lover" comes in and why this trait is so valuable. It means that art actually moves Simon rather than serves as a vehicle of self-congratulation. If Simon would take the trouble to learn a little about the technical side of music, he could easily become one of the best music critics of all. It's not necessarily that he would include such things baldly in an essay, but developing the habit of such thinking might give him a different, valuable point of view.