Review by Choice Review
After more than three decades of discovery and controversy about Western art music of the 19th century, Samson (Royal Holloway College, UK) has put together a collection that articulates contemporary understanding of that era's major issues. Both a reference work and a springboard for further research, this volume comprises 21 self-contained essays that range from historiography and intellectual and social context to repertory studies. Samson divides the contributions into two sections (1800-50, 1850-1900), each dealing with the particular problems of the time--e.g., periodization, standard concert fare, genius, nationalism. The editor instructed the writers to take a stand, to present an "angle" rather than a survey. Since most of the writers are English and American, the essays and the choice of music and institutions represent the views of mostly the English-speaking scholarly world. The cogent writing is well organized and little troubled by footnotes (a current bibliography ends each essay). Samson supplies useful (for the most part Eurocentric) chronologies of the century's political and music events, an annotated list of musical institutions (from concert series to instrument manufacturers), and a listing of important musical personalities (composers, performers, entrepreneurs). Bringing together material heretofore dispersed in journals and hard-to-find collections, this volume is recommended for academic, professional, and public collections at all levels. A. M. Hanson St. Olaf College
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.