Chopin cuts a curious figure in contemporary culture. A Pole working among Frenchmen, he exudes exoticism even as he partakes of European tradition. A male composer who wrote in feminine genres like the nocturne for domestic settings such as the salon, he confuses our sense of the boundaries of gender. Central to our repertory, he nevertheless remains a marginalized figure. The complex and unsettling status of Chopin in our culture - what it means and how it came about - is Jeffrey Kallberg's subject in this book. Combining social history, literary theory, musicology and feminist thought, Chopin at the Boundaries situates Chopin's music historically within his native Polish and adopted French cultures and to demonstrate the effects of these historical constructions on present experience.
Peter Williams approaches afresh the life and music of arguably the most studied of all composers, interpreting both Bach's life by deconstructing his original obituary in the light of more recent information and his music by evaluating his priorities and irrepressible creative energy. How, even though belonging to musical families on both his parents' sides, did he come to possess so bewitching a sense of rhythm and melody and a mastery of harmony that established nothing less than a norm in Western culture? In considering that the works of a composer are his biography, the book's title A Life in Music means both a life spent making music and one revealed in the music as we know it. A distinguished scholar and performer, Williams re-examines Bach's life as an orphan and family man, as an extraordinarily gifted composer and player and as an ambitious artist who never suffered fools gladly.
Exoticism has flourished in western music since the 17th century. A blend of familiar and unfamiliar gestures, this vibrant musical language takes the listener beyond the ordinary by evoking foreign cultures and forbidden desires. In this collection, musicologists explore the ways in which western composers have used exotic elements for dramatic and striking effect.