The War on Music: Reclaiming the Twentieth Century (Hardcover)

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The War on Music: Reclaiming the Twentieth Century By John Mauceri Cover Image

The War on Music: Reclaiming the Twentieth Century (Hardcover)


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 A fascinating journey into global politics that made classical music a proxy for power, inadvertently creating the “sound of Hollywood,” and excluding hundreds of composers

“[Mauceri’s] writing is more exhilarating than any helicopter ride we have been on.”—Air Mail

“Fluently written and often cogent.”—Barton Swaim, Wall Street Journal

John Mauceri offers a lively and passionate reassessment of classical music in the twentieth century, in which he argues that the history of music during the last century was shaped by its three major conflicts: World War I, World War II, and the Cold War.

The War on Music unlocks the mystery of why classical music seemingly produced so few eternal works after 1950, whereas other arts—popular music, Broadway, literature, painting, architecture, theater, cinema—have given the world myriad beloved and highly regarded masterpieces; why the composers considered the future of classical music in the 1920s disappeared from being performed after World War II; why the most heard symphonic scores of the century—music for Hollywood films—became the subject of brutal denigration and dismissal; why the avant-garde of the pre-World War I became the new lingua franca of the Cold War period in the West, and any music that veered from its requirements removed from being performed.

Mauceri follows the data to demonstrate how the politics of global wars used an artform that many might consider unimportant—classical music—as a potent and effective symbol, target, and weapon. Based on more than a half-century of music making and discovery, The War on Music is a plea to return the suppressed repertory—beautiful and unique expressions of humanity—to our concert halls and opera houses, much as the artwork stolen by the Nazis continues to be returned to its rightful owners.
John Mauceri is a world-renowned conductor and musical scholar. He has conducted most of the world’s greatest orchestras and opera companies and served on the Yale University faculty for fifteen years, and is the former chancellor of the UNC School of the Arts.
Product Details ISBN: 9780300233704
ISBN-10: 0300233701
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication Date: April 26th, 2022
Pages: 248
Language: English
“The great virtue of John Mauceri’s The War on Music is that it acknowledges what many writers on the subject know but can’t say: that something went badly wrong in music in the 20th century, and especially after 1945. . . . Fluently written and often cogent.”—Barton Swaim, Wall Street Journal

“Two world wars changed the course of music in the 20th century. Charting the malign influence of politics, from Hitler to Stalin, Mauceri shows how music became part of the weaponry of identity. Refugee composers lost their place in the mainstream and Mauceri argues for a re-evaluation of those forgotten and discarded.”—Richard Fairman, Financial Times, “Best summer books of 2022: Classical music”

“[Mauceri’s] book grapples with what constitutes good classical music by approaching the subject from a provocative angle: Why do we not play more often the music banned by Hitler, specifically Schoenberg, Korngold, Hindemith, and Weill? And why instead do we fall for so much of what John Mauceri calls the ‘institutional avant-garde,’ typified by Helicopter String Quartet, by German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, with, yes, each player in a separate chopper? The reader may not agree with Mauceri’s analysis, but his writing is more exhilarating than any helicopter ride we have been on.”—Air Mail

“A well-founded, cogent, and forceful argument for a fresh look at all of the century’s great music, much of it written under extraordinary circumstances, and why we need to go back and listen.”—Jon Burlingame, author of The Music of James Bond

“A profound thinker and observer and an eminent American musician, John Mauceri brilliantly explores the contested terrain of twentieth-century classical music and adds a whole new dimension to our understanding of musical politics and musical repertory.”— Larry Wolff, author of The Singing Turk

En garde! In his provocative new book The War on Music: Reclaiming the Twentieth Century—one that is certain to initiate heated and impassioned discussion—the prodigiously talented and multifaceted conductor and writer John Mauceri throws down a musical gauntlet as he endeavors to upend and re-examine some of the reigning assumptions of the history of post-war twentieth-century classical music. No matter how one responds to the thrust of John Mauceri’s sweeping musical worldview, one must salute him for his fervent, dauntless, and audacious engagement.”—Jonathan Cott, author of Dinner With Lenny: The Last Long Interview With Leonard Bernstein

“Mauceri’s brilliant The War on Music begins with the question, ‘Why do we not play the music Hitler banned?’ and then pulls back the curtain to answer it, in chilling detail.”— Robert Thompson, president, G. Schirmer