From time to time, you might see a book in the catalogue listed as Stack. These are books which are housed behind the scenes in the Central Library - items that the Library definitely wants to keep, but for some reason (e.g. older condition, or not in as high demand) the open shelf is not the right place for them. Most can be borrowed.
Please ask at the enquiries counter on the Second Floor and staff will be happy to retrieve them.
This webpage will highlight some of these nearly forgotten treasures - note that the author's selections and recommendations of these golden oldies are entirely idiosyncratic!
Last updated 10 November 2003
J. S. Bach, by Albert Schweitzer, with a foreword by Charles Widor. (1911)
The great Widor recounts in his introduction the story of Schweitzer seeking him out (to be his pupil), and together they worked through the choral preludes. Widor confessed that he found many of them enigmatic, whereupon, Schweitzer translated the texts into French on the spot from memory to explain the mysteries. This illustration encapsulates the passion and devotion of Schweitzer to Bach. "To read Schweitzer's Bach, is not only to get to know the composer and his work, but to penetrate also into the essence of music in general."
Essay on the true art of playing keyboard instruments, by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach. (1949)
This "essay" was penned by CPE Bach (Johann Sebastian's son) was famed a teacher of no small influence. The Essay became famous as an instruction book almost immediately and reached many students throughout the latter half of the 18th century. Haydn called it the "school of all schools", and Mozart, Beethoven and Clementi added their endorsement, whilst Beethoven advised Czerny's father "that boy has talent...be sure to procure Emanuel Bach's instruction book...".
Caruso's method of voice production : the scientific culture of the voice, by Mario Marafioti. (1922)
Marafioti was a laryngologist who knew Caruso. Hence his approach is to explain the technicalities of vocal production (using Caruso as his finest example). "There can be no voice without a functioning vocal apparatus, the physiological activity of which gives origin not only to the voice but to the correct mechanism of its production.." (p. 15)
"The technical content is typical of that produced by a physiologist examining an expert who has already conditioned his vocal apparatus and mastered the passaggio. That is, he is oblivious of the actual technique that Caruso was using (try Berton Coffin's Overtones of Bel Canto for an excellent description of Caruso's technique)"(Amazon customer)
Structural functions of harmony, by Arnold Schoenberg. (1949)
This text presents a resume of the principles of the "Theory of Harmony", then demonstrates the concept of "monotonality". The music examples range from the entire development sections of classical symphonies. Ninety integrated music examples range fromthe entire development sections of classical symphonies to analyses of the harmonic progressions of Strauss, Debussy, Reger and his own early music. (Amazon)
A treatise on modern instrumentation and orchestration, by Hector Berlioz. (1882)
A classic textbook. Appraises the musical qualities and potential of over 60 commonly used stringed, wind and percussion instruments, using actual illustrations from works by Mozart, Beethoven etc.
Our new music : leading composers in Europe and America, by Aaron Copland. (1941)
Copland surveys the transitions that occurred in art music at the beginning of the twentieth century from the late romantics of Strauss, Debussy and Mahler to the revolutions of Bartok, and Schoenberg through the war years, into jazz. He tackles American mucis largely through the discussion of 6 leading composers - Ives, Sessions (see below), Harris, Piston, Thomson and Blitstein as representative names.
Life of Chopin, by Franz Liszt.(translated by John Broadhouse)
If you were ever in any doubt that Liszt was a Romantic, this will dispel them! It opens "Chopin! Sweet and harmonius genius! Is there a single heart to whom he was dear, a single indiviudal to whom he was familiar, who on hearing that name spoken, is not startled as by the memory of a superior being whom it was once his good fortune to know...." It would be fair to say that there is not a great deal of ascerbic analysis within these pages, but nevertheless, it is an important contemporary book of the man and his music.
Shaw's music : the complete musical criticism, by George Bernard Shaw. (1981). 3vol.
Shaw was musical critic from 1876 - 1950 encompassing many sources, often as an unsigned newspaper critic. These pages shine not only with his wit and insights, but his widsom and scale of his musical knowledge - equally at home discussing Bach as Berlioz, Britten as Bayreuth. Don't be put off by the size of the volumes - the article lengths make this ideal "put down and pick up again" great reads.
The musical experience of composer, performer, listener, by Roger Sessions. (1950)
These represent 6 lectures delivered at the Juillard School of Music in New York. As one of the preeminent American composers at the time (see Copland, above) he covers all three "partners of the musical experience". He sees the composer, performer and listener acting within and depending on the total environment. An important book in the western art music tradition of the twentieth century.
The mighty five : the cradle of Russian national music, by Victor Seroff. (1948).
"Les Cinq" was the name for a group of Russian musicians - Balakirev, Cui, Borodin, Rimsky-Korsakov, and Moussorgsky - who were seen to be influential in forging the Russian style in the late Romatic era. They did not encompass all Russian music - Tchaikovsky, for example, not only did not join them, but followed a parallel (and some may say opposing) path in Moscow.
The evolution of the art of music, by Hubert Parry. (1896)
This is written in the style of a textbook for the mildly interested amateur (with the express aim of being "easily accessible to the general public"). Parry, himself, no mean composer, firstly covers some basics of scales and harmony, before the main part of the book which is chapters on musical styles, and periods which a concert-goers is likely to encounter. Of interest to the social historian.
Mozart, by Sacheverell Sitwell. (1932)