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Musical Discussions
Topic: The Extraordinary Harvard Lectures!!!

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Posted by Romy the Cat on 04-30-2006

A local friend of mine a month or so back give a gift: a set of 6 DVDs ”The Unanswered Question - Six Talks at Harvard by Leonard Bernstein”. I kept the box on my shelf un-open but last week I decided to let myself to watch them. What a fantastic extraordinary material!!! I can’t believe that I never heard about them as I feel those lectures, at that level of that presentation, should be absolutely mandatory program in any school.

From the Back Cover

Leonard Bernstein examines music from every age and place in the search for a worldwide, innate musical grammar. Folk music, pop songs, symphonies, tonal, atonal, well-tempered and ill-tempered works find a place in these discussions. All of them, Mr. Bernstein suggests, are grounded in a universal musical language. Using analogies between music and linguistics, Mr. Bernstein shows how this language can be understood as an aesthetic surface. Drawing on his insights as a master composer and conductor, he also explores what music means below the surface. Finally, Mr. Bernstein analyzes the crisis of twentieth-century music, finding its roots in all that has gone before. Written and delivered in 1973 when Leonard Bernstein was Charles Eliot Norton Professor of Poetry at Harvard University, with performances by Mr. Bernstein, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and the Vienna Philharmonic. 780 minutes.

Musical Phonology: Explores the origins and development of music and language, with a performance of Mozart's Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K. 550. 104 minutes.

Musical Syntax: Compares the structures of music and speech, and discusses the multiple transformations of which both are capable, with examples from Mozart's Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K. 550. 95 minutes.

Musical Semantics: Demonstrates layers of meaning in Beethoven's Symphony No. 6 in F Major, Op. 68. 142 minutes.

The Delights and Dangers of Ambiguity: Explorations of new tonal fields by composers of the Romantic era. Musical illustrations include: Berlioz's "Romeo Alone" and "The Ball at the Capulets" from Romeo & Juliet, Wagner's "Prelude und Liebestod" from Tristan & Isolde, and Debussy's Prelude a l'apres-midi d'un faune. 142 minutes.

The Twentieth Century Crisis: Arnold Schoenberg's movement toward atonality and Gustav Mahler's anticipation of the crisis in twentieth-century music. Includes performances of Ives's The Unanswered Question, Ravel's "Feris" from Rapsodie Espagnole, and Mahler's Symphony No. 9 in D major, mvmt 4. 133 minutes.

The Poetry of Earth: Examines how Igor Stravinsky kept tonality viable while experimenting freely with dissonance. Includes a complete performance of Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex. 177 minutes.

Thanks, Jerome!
Romy The Cat

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