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Surprised by Beauty : A Listener's Guide to the Recovery of Modern Music (Revised / Expanded)
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"In sound itself, there is a readiness to be ordered by the spirit, and this is seen at its most sublime in music."— Max Picard
The single greatest crisis of the 20th century was the loss of faith. Noise – and its acceptance as music – was the product of the resulting spiritual confusion and, in its turn, became the further cause of its spread. Likewise, the recovery of modern music, the theme to which this book is dedicated, stems from a spiritual recovery. This is made explicitly clear by the composers to whom the author spoke with in the interviews collected in this book.
Reilly spells out the nature of the crisis and its solution in sections that serve as bookends to the chapters on individual composers. He does not contend that all of these composers underwent and recovered from the central crisis he describes, but they all lived and worked within its broader context, and soldiered on, writing beautiful music. For this, they suffered ridicule and neglect, and he believes their rehabilitation will change the reputation of modern music. There are many such composers whom Reilly discusses in this work, along with mention of many new recordings that have released over the past decade.
It is the spirit of music that this book is most about, and in his efforts to discern it, Reilly has discovered many treasures. The purpose of this book is to share them, to entice you to listen – because beauty is contagious. English conductor John Eliot Gardiner writes that experiencing Bach's masterpieces "is a way of fully realizing the scale and scope of what it is to be human". The reader may be surprised by how many works of the 20th and 21st centuries of which this is also true.
As a special bonus, buyers of this book will be given access to the online Naxos Music Library, and be able to listen to many of the music pieces Reilly discusses in this book.
"Robert Reilly's vision of music is profoundly spiritual, expressive of what is best and most enriching in human life, and having the possibility of leading us to encounter God Himself."— Stephen Hough, Pianist and Composer