Books on early 20th century (piano) music?

Posted by: fnork

Books on early 20th century (piano) music? - 01/07/13 02:12 PM

I'm looking for books on the topic of piano music from the late 19th century and onwards, mainly up until mid-20th century or so. I read David Burges wonderful "20th century piano music" which covers a wide range of music, but would love to head other suggestions. Any ideas?
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Books on early 20th century (piano) music? - 01/07/13 03:36 PM

By an old professor of mine -- maybe you know of him too, since you have some Cornell connections....

Music in the 20th Century, from Debussy Through Stravinsky (William W. Austin)
Posted by: AldenH

Re: Books on early 20th century (piano) music? - 01/07/13 03:48 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
By an old professor of mine -- maybe you know of him too, since you have some Cornell connections....

Music in the 20th Century, from Debussy Through Stravinsky (William W. Austin)


That's one of my favorite books on 20th century music, and the very first I ever perused. How interesting it must have been to learn from the man himself!

Music for Piano: A Short History by F. E. Kirby has a very thorough accounting of works by all the major (and many minor and now unknown) late 19th-early 20th century composers for piano. It's more like a list than an exploration of everything in depth, although there are discussions of major trends and the qualities of individual works.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Books on early 20th century (piano) music? - 01/07/13 04:17 PM

Originally Posted By: AldenH
....How interesting it must have been to learn from the man himself!

I didn't fully appreciate stuff like that at the time. To me he was mainly just a slightly weird old guy. ha

I took two courses of his, "Chopin, Chaikovsky * and Mussorgsky" and "Bartok, Schoenberg and Stravinsky," also sort of hung out a little.

* Yeah, for some reason he liked spelling it that way. So, we called the course "The 3 C's." grin
We didn't care that Mussorgsky begins with M.
We had the good grace never to call the other course "BS." ha

He loved Debussy -- felt he was underrated and one of the great giants. BTW he was a pretty good pianist and liked performing a piece sometimes at the end of a class. He was pretty good but not great -- not nearly as good as another well-known music historian who was there at the time, Donald Grout.
Posted by: fnork

Re: Books on early 20th century (piano) music? - 01/10/13 05:45 AM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
By an old professor of mine -- maybe you know of him too, since you have some Cornell connections....

Music in the 20th Century, from Debussy Through Stravinsky (William W. Austin)

Thanks for this, picked it up from my library - for some reason I hadn't taken note of this one yet. Started reading a bit here and there and yes, seems like a fabulous and well-written (which isn't always the case) book! He does seem to stress Debussy's importance, and some bits on Bartok's life were very charmingly and accurately depicted, to my mind. I'm sure I'll get through this one very soon! Also found Jim Samson's "Music in transition" which focuses on the beginning of the 20th century - he's a good writer as well and knows a lot on this topic.

(as a matter of fact, I'm trying to gather information for submitting an application for a doctoral degree. Having an idea for a theme for the five doctoral concerts + the written dissertation is a must, and the idea I'm trying to develop could be called 'Off the beaten path: early 20th century (piano) music', where I'd like to focus on music from this time and in particular to put to the fore numerous composers and works that didn't get their well-deserved appraisal in time. Works on my mind include the complete Debussy studies, Szymanowski's works, Samuil Feinberg's music as well as various russian/soviet avant-garde composers, Medtner, Bartok studies, a whole bunch of other things...when one starts thinking of it, the variety of musical expression in the early 20th century is just astonishing)
Posted by: Opus 1 Music

Re: Books on early 20th century (piano) music? - 01/10/13 10:36 AM

I also have read the Samson and it is quite good. You may consider as well looking for some scholarly articles or dissertations on specific composers or music if there is something of particular interest to you. I am studying for a DMA comprehensive exam and was wondering how the Burge book is? I have it on a list I am going to get from the library, but if it isn't too useful, I won't add it to the short list.