Music and Sentiment, By Charles Rosen

 

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The Independent Culture

Charles Rosen, guru of modern musical analysis, writes for a public undeterred by long extracts from the scores under discussion. Yet, even for readers at sea on the staves, the melody of his arguments carries clearly here.

It turns on the widespread accessibility of the emotional language of music – especially after the innovations of Haydn and Mozart – to listeners who only need a "reasonable familiarity" with its styles. How does a Beethoven sonata, a Chopin nocturne or a Mozart quartet communicate strong, subtle and ever-shifting emotions?

Feeling in music, for Rosen, rests on no "esoteric code" that only the experts crack, but the creation of a set of conventions that any attentive listener can learn to grasp. With him, we do.

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