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Musical Experience of Composer, Performer, Listener

Musical Experience of Composer, Performer, Listener

Copyright Date: 1950
Pages: 136
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  • Book Info
    Musical Experience of Composer, Performer, Listener
    Book Description:

    One of America's foremost contemporary composers, professor of music at the University of California, Roger Sessions here discusses the musical experience of the composer, the performer, the listener. He believes this experience to be shared, on in which all three participants play vital roles, and in this book he speaks especially to the listener.

    Mr. Sessions finds that the artist-public relationships has been shifted to that of producer and consumer in big business. But his reply to his own question about a threat to the future of music is both a challenge and an expression of hope. A fascinating little book that will be read with pleasure by people at all levels of musical education.

    Originally published in 1972.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-7104-9
    Subjects: Performing Arts

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
    (pp. v-v)
    Roger Sessions
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. vi-2)
    (pp. 3-20)

    How shall we explain the power that men and women of all times have recognized in music, or account for the enormous importance they have ascribed to it? Why did primitive peoples endow it with supernatural force and create legends, persisting into times and places far from primitive, in which musicians of surpassing ability were able to tame wild beasts, to move stones, and to soften the hard hearts of gods, demons, and even human tyrants? Why have serious and gifted men—in imaginative force and intellectual mastery the equals of any that ever lived—why have such men at...

    (pp. 21-42)

    In the last chapter I discussed what I may perhaps call the roots of our musical feeling—roots lying in the very depths of our nature as animate beings. Here I should like to stress the vast sweep of the topmost branches of the tree that has grown from these roots.

    My metaphor, I believe, is not a bad one. For it empha~ sizes a fact we ought never to forget: that a genuine culture is an organic growth, and not a self~ conscious achievement. Possibly we Americans especially need to remember this. We are aware, quite aside from any...

    (pp. 43-67)

    I have said that music, especially today, fulfills a variety of functions and exercises a variety of appeals. I do not mean to imply that this has not always been the case. It seems to me, however, that it must be much more so today than ever before. Not only do we have music written for the church and music for secular occasions; we also have music written for educational purposes; we have “popular” music for all sorts of purposes, and so-called “classical” music of all types. We have music written for symphony orchestras and music written for amateurs, music...

    (pp. 68-86)

    The performer’s work is, of course, begun by the composer. The latter not only composes the music, i.e. he conceives a coherent and meaningful pattern of tones and rhythms, but he translates the music he has thus conceived into symbols which enable the performer to bring it into actual, i.e. physical, being.

    I have taken some pains in the above sentence to state the simple facts as I see them, and as directly and as accurately as possible. But you can see, I am sure, what difficulties I, a practical musician, would face if you should seriously call into question...

    (pp. 87-106)

    We are all very much concerned, these days, with the listener-the person who neither makes music nor performs it, but simply listens to it. The market is flooded with books of all sorts, fulfilling all sorts of functions for all sorts of listeners, from the child to “the man who enjoysHamlet”and even “the intelligent listener”—analyses to edify him, critical chit-chat to flatter him, and gossip to amuse him. We have grade school, high school, and university courses designed to inform him and, if possible, to educate him in “appreciation,” in “intelligent listening,” and even “creative listening.” On...

    (pp. 107-127)

    At various times in this book I have referred to a fact which I consider very important as a premise to this final chapter. That fact is the essential unity of musical experience. It can be regarded from several angles. First of all, the composer, the performer, and the listener are in a certain sense collaborators in a total musical experience, to which each makes his individual contribution. Secondly, not only are the performer and the listener, in a real sense, re-experiencing and re-creating the musical thought of the composer, but they are, also in a real sense, adding to...