Experiencing Verdi: A Listener's Companion

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9780810884670: Experiencing Verdi: A Listener's Companion

Titles in The Listener’s Companion: A Scarecrow Press Music Series provide readers with a deeper understanding of key musical genres and the work of major artists and composers. Aimed at nonspecialists, each volume explains in clear and accessible language how to listen to works from particular artists, composers, and genres. Looking at the context in which the music appeared as well as its form, authors explore with readers the environments in which key musical works were written and performed—from a 1950s bebop concert at the Village Vanguard to a performance of Handel’s Messiah in eighteenth-century Germany.

Along with his contemporaries Chopin and Wagner, Verdi is among the few composers whose place in the musical pantheon is based almost entirely upon the mastery of a single genre. This is largely owing to his staggering output in a career that lasted over fifty years. Several of his operas occupy the nucleus of the modern repertoire, and Verdi almost single-handedly maintained the Italian lyric tradition against the tide of Wagnerian music drama. In his final years, he virtually reinvented Italian opera. Indeed, Verdi’s life and music came to be so intimately associated with the Italian unification movement known as the Risorgimento that he is still revered as a great national figure in his homeland.

In Experiencing Verdi: A Listener’s Companion, Donald Sanders combines biography with simple, concise musical analysis. Summarizing the evolution of Italian opera and the bel canto tradition that prevailed at the beginning of Verdi’s career, Sanders takes readers on a leisurely tour of eleven of Verdi’s most important operas and of the Manzoni Requiem and concludes with a look at Verdi’s influence on later composers like Giacomo Puccini, his place in the modern repertoire, and his role as an Italian patriot.

With a timeline, glossary of basic musical terms, and selected reading and listening recommendations, Experiencing Verdi will engage opera lovers at all levels, from those just starting to listen, learn, and enjoy to musical devotees.

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About the Author:

Donald Sanders is professor of music at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. He has published articles on Italian music of several genres and periods. He is a contributor to the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians and the author of Music at the Gonzaga Court in Mantua.

Review:

Released in 'The Listener's Companion' series, Experiencing Verdi provides musical amateurs with a thorough introduction to the life and works of one of opera’s most important composers. A short survey of pre-Verdian opera is followed by an in-depth discussion of 11 of the composer’s most important and popular operas in addition to the Requiem. Plot and musical synopses alternate with biographical and historical background as it pertains to each work. Less-known works are treated sparingly but provide important context for a long career noted for its musical relevance and adaptability. Sanders has written a work whose style and content should appeal to opera aficionados and novices alike. His ability to impart musical and historical insight in lay terms makes for easy and enjoyable reading. Even relatively sophisticated topics, such as bel canto–era style and structure, form, and instrumentation, are treated in a clear and comprehensible fashion tailored to informed yet non-expert readers. The book includes a time line of the composer’s life, a glossary of musical and foreign language terms, notes, and selected reading and listening lists. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates; general readers. (CHOICE)

No composer wrote more staples of the operatic repertoire than Giuseppe Verdi, whose bicentenary this year is. In what may be the only general-audience book in English that coincides with the occasion, Sanders provides plot and musical synopses of a dozen operas and a musical synopsis of the Manzoni Requiem, all within a chronological précis of the composer’s life and the greater events, principally the Risorgimento, that affected him. To reach the broadest possible audience, Sanders eschews all written notation of the music and provides a four-page glossary of musical terms, access to which is signaled by printing the terms in boldface when they first appear in the text. Lacking all condescension, Sanders’ writing couldn’t be clearer, with the plot synopses relaying the who, what, and why, and the musical synopses discussing the how of each opera’s action (which necessarily entails more detailed exposition of the plot; hence, the musical synopses are longer). An entry in a series called A Listener’s Companion, Sanders’ work fulfills the task that series title suggests excellently. (Booklist)

Sanders, a professor of music at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, has written widely on opera music. His style is straightforward and easygoing, and will help long-time listeners of opera and those new to Verdi cultivate an understanding and appreciation of this great composer’s music. He gives readers explanations of both technical and scholarly aspects but also important points of what the listener should be listening for. He provides a biography of Verdi alongside an easy-to-understand musical analysis. He summarizes the evolution of Italian opera and analyzes in depth 11 of Verdi’s key operas. He examines Verdi’s influence on later composers, including Giacomo Puccini, as well as takes a look at his role in modern opera. The author includes a timeline, a glossary of musical terms, and selected reading and recording recommendations. An index makes it easy to find specific topics, persons, places, or musical pieces. (American Reference Books Annual)

Experiencing Verdi provides a clear and accessible Listener’s Companion. (Music & Letters)

[Experiencing Verdi: A Listener's Companion is] characterized by a pleasant-to-read style that largely seeks to waive conditions. (VerdiPerspektive)

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Book Description Scarecrow Press, United States, 2013. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. In Experiencing Verdi: A Listener s Companion, Donald Sanders combines biography with simple, concise musical analysis. Summarizing the evolution of Italian opera and the bel canto tradition that prevailed at the beginning of Verdi s career, Sanders takes readers on a leisurely tour of eleven of Verdi s most important operas and of the Manzoni Requiem and concludes with a look at Verdi s influence on later composers like Giacomo Puccini, his place in the modern repertoire, and his role as an Italian patriot. Bookseller Inventory # AAZ9780810884670

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Book Description Scarecrow Press, United States, 2013. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. In Experiencing Verdi: A Listener s Companion, Donald Sanders combines biography with simple, concise musical analysis. Summarizing the evolution of Italian opera and the bel canto tradition that prevailed at the beginning of Verdi s career, Sanders takes readers on a leisurely tour of eleven of Verdi s most important operas and of the Manzoni Requiem and concludes with a look at Verdi s influence on later composers like Giacomo Puccini, his place in the modern repertoire, and his role as an Italian patriot. Bookseller Inventory # AAZ9780810884670

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