Singing in the Wilderness

Singing in the Wilderness

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Displaying the broad erudition and intellectual agility that have informed a lifetime of scholarship, Wilfrid Mellers offers a set of diverse reflections on how western art music illuminates the shifting relationship between humankind and the natural world.Beginning with two turn-of-the-century operas--Frederick Delius'sA Village Romeo and Julietand Claude Debussy'sPellias et Mlisande-- that present humankind as lost in a tangled wood that is at once internal and external, Mellers develops the theme of wilderness in sociological, psychological, ecological, and even geological terms. He discusses Leos Jan ek'sCunning Little Vixen(qthe ultimate ecological operaq) as a parable of redemption and explores the delicate yet dangerous equilibrium between civilization and the dark forest in works by Charles Koechlin and Darius Milhaud. Elements of wilderness and the city combine to infuse the music of Heitor Villa-Lobos and Carlos Chvez with a blend of primitivism and sophistication, while a creative tension between desert landscape and industrial mechanization inspires the works of Carl Ruggles, Harry Partch, Steve Reich, and Australia's Peter Sculthorpe. The volume culminates in a discussion of two American urban folk musicians, Duke Ellington and George Gershwin.By suggesting how the qmusickingq of ecological issues articulates twinned perspectives on music and our place in the world, Mellers raises intriguing questions about the links among tradition, talent, learning, and instinct. Brimming over with fresh ideas and unexpected cross-pollinations, Singing in the Wildernessis a stimulating addition to the oeuvre of a distinguished and inventive scholar.This music is traditional in refashioning the luminosity of French Renaissance music as exemplified in the chansons of composers such as ... hybrids between aquot; unconsciousaquot; folk traditions and the domesticated aquot;nursery rhymeaquot; or urbanized pop song that owes its celebrity in part ... aquot;Frere Jacques, aquot; aquot;Au clair de la lune, aquot; aquot; Sur le pont da#39;Avignon, aquot; and aquot;Marlbrouk sa#39;en va-t-en guerreaquot; are merely the best- knownanbsp;...

Title:Singing in the Wilderness
Author:Wilfrid Mellers
Publisher:University of Illinois Press - 2001


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