The classical record business gained a new lease on life in the 1980s when period instrument performances of baroque and classical music began to assume a place on the stage. This return to the past found its complement in the musical ascension of the American minimalists, in particular the music of Steve Reich, Philip Glass and John Adams, and smaller specialty labels that focused on experimental composers like John Cage. During this period of change — of classical music's transition of looking both forward and back — Rob Haskins served as a reviewer for "The American Record Guide," tracing these evolutions while also attending to works emerging from within the mainstream of classical music performance and composition.
"Classical Listening: Two Decades of Reviews from 'The American Record Guide'" collects the several hundred reviews produced since Haskins's start in the mid-1990s. A performer and musicologist, Haskins writes delightful, cogent reviews that unapologetically reflect his personal experience, musical interests and professional background, emphasizing the value of subjectivity in music criticism. Witty, provocative and eloquent, Haskins's book reads like a diary of personal experience even as it addresses important topics as diverse as historical performance practice and the aesthetics of contemporary music. It is also a perfect guide to buying or listening for the classical music devotee seeking an informed opinion on the breadth of remarkable recordings available.
In this new biography, Rob Haskins explores Cage’s radical approach to art and aesthetics and his belief that everyday life and art are one and the same. Scrutinizing Cage’s emphasis on chance over intention, which rejected traditional artistic methods and caused an uproar among his peers, Haskins elucidates the ideas that lay behind these pillars of Cage’s work. Haskins also demystifies the influence of Eastern cultures, particularly Zen Buddhism, on Cage, including his use of the Chinese text I Ching as his standard composition tool in all his work after 1951. Adding to our understanding of the art, music, and ideas of the twentieth century, this book provides an engaging look at a man who continues to challenge and inspire artists worldwide.
excerpt from book cover: The music of Johannes Brahms is deeply colored, Daniel Beller-McKenna shows, by nineteenth-century German nationalism and by Lutheran religion. Focusing on the composer's choral works, the author offers new insight on the cultural grounding for Brahms's music. In comparison to the overtly nationalist element in Wagner's music, the German elements in Brahms's style have been easy to overlook. This nuanced study uncovers those nationalistic elements, enriching our understanding both of Brahms's art and of German culture."