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Harrison Birtwistle Studies


Part of Cambridge Composer Studies

David Beard, Kenneth Gloag, Nicholas Jones, Arnold Whittall, Philip Rupprecht, Tom Hall, Edward Venn, Aleksandra Vojčić, Mark Delaere, Jonathan Cross
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  • Date Published: December 2017
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107474673

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About the Authors
  • This collection of essays celebrates the work of Sir Harrison Birtwistle, one of the key figures in European contemporary music. Representing current research on Birtwistle's music, this book reflects the diversity of his work in terms of periods, genres, forms, techniques and related issues through a wide range of critical, theoretical and analytical interpretations and perspectives. Written by a team of international scholars, all of whom bring a deep research-based knowledge and insight to their chosen study, this collection extends the scholarly understanding of Birtwistle through new engagements with the man and the music. The contributors provide detailed studies of Birtwistle's engagement with electronic music in the 1960s and 1970s, and develop theoretical explanations of his fascination with pulse, rhythm and time. They also explore in detail Birtwistle's interest in poetry, instrumental drama, gesture, procession and landscape, and consider the compositional processes that underpin these issues.

    • Presents detailed studies of Birtwistle's music and insights into the details of individual works
    • Individual chapters raise distinct methodological issues, which can be compared to other musical contexts
    • Provides direction for further study and scope for development
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    Product details

    • Date Published: December 2017
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107474673
    • length: 334 pages
    • dimensions: 245 x 170 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.61kg
    • contains: 17 b/w illus. 18 tables 81 music examples
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Preface David Beard, Kenneth Gloag and Nicholas Jones
    1. 'Let it drift': Birtwistle's late-modernist music dramas Arnold Whittall
    2. Mechanical song: Birtwistle's rhythmic imagination Philip Rupprecht
    3. Before the mask: Birtwistle's electronic music collaborations with Peter Zinovieff Tom Hall
    4. Birtwistle's 'eloquently gestural music' Kenneth Gloag
    5. 'The life of my music': what the sketches tell us David Beard
    6. The sound of Raasay: Birtwistle's Hebridean experience Nicholas Jones
    7. Birtwistle and the labyrinthine processional Edward Venn
    8. On taking a walk Aleksandra Vojčić
    9. Gigue machine and other gigs: Birtwistle in Europe and beyond Mark Delaere
    10. Of shadows and mirrors: reflections on Birtwistle in the new millennium Jonathan Cross
    Appendix: a selected inventory of Birtwistle manuscripts acquired by the British Library in 2013 David Beard.

  • Editors

    David Beard, Cardiff University
    David Beard is Senior Lecturer in Music at Cardiff University. He is the author of Harrison Birtwistle's Operas and Music Theatre (Cambridge, 2012) and he has published on Birtwistle in Music Analysis, Twentieth-Century Music and the Cambridge Opera Journal. He has contributed chapters on Birtwistle, Peter Maxwell Davies and Judith Weir in various books, including Ancient Drama in Music for the Modern Stage (2010), Peter Maxwell Davies Studies (Cambridge, 2009), and Dichotonies: Music and Gender (2009).

    Kenneth Gloag, Cardiff University
    Kenneth Gloag is Reader in Musicology at Cardiff University. His publications include books on Tippett's A Child of Our Time (Cambridge, 1999) and Nicholas Maw: Odyssey (2008). He is the author of Postmodernism in Music (Cambridge, 2012), and has co-edited and contributed chapters to Peter Maxwell Davies Studies (Cambridge, 2009) and The Cambridge Companion to Michael Tippett (Cambridge, 2013).

    Nicholas Jones, Cardiff University
    Nicholas Jones is Senior Lecturer at the Centre for Lifelong Learning, Cardiff University. He has a specialist interest in twentieth-century and contemporary British music and is co-editor of and contributor to Peter Maxwell Davies Studies (Cambridge, 2009) and The Cambridge Companion to Michael Tippett (Cambridge, 2013). He has written a number of articles on Birtwistle's closest contemporary, Peter Maxwell Davies, for Music and Letters, Tempo and The Musical Times.


    David Beard, Kenneth Gloag, Nicholas Jones, Arnold Whittall, Philip Rupprecht, Tom Hall, Edward Venn, Aleksandra Vojčić, Mark Delaere, Jonathan Cross

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