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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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Salamone Rossi, Jewish musician in Renaissance Mantua

What do we know of Salamone Rossi’s family? His father was named Bonaiuto Azaria de’ Rossi (d. 1578): he composed Me’or einayim (Light of the Eyes). Rossi had a brother, Emanuele (Menaḥem), and a sister, Europe, who, like him, was a musician.

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Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue

What is a classic album? Not a classical album – a classic album. One definition would be a recording that is both of superb quality and of enduring significance. I would suggest that Miles Davis’s 1959 recording Kind of Blue is indubitably a classic.

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Job: A Masque for Dancing by Ralph Vaughan Williams

Michael Kennedy has described Job as one of Vaughan Williams’s mightiest achievements. It is a work which, in a full production, combines painting (the inspiration for the work came from a scenario drawn up by Geoffrey Keynes based on William Blake’s Illustrations of the Book of Job), literature (the King James Bible), music, and dance.

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The rise of choral jazz

The genre of ‘choral jazz’ has become increasingly prevalent among choirs, with the jazz mass the ultimate form. Settings of the Latin mass by Lalo Schifrin and Scott Stroman have enjoyed popular following, while more recently Bob Chilcott’s A Little Jazz Mass and Nidaros Jazz Mass have established the genre in the wider choral tradition, reaching choirs from across the choral spectrum and audiences young and old.

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The teenage exploits of a future celebrity

Rising to prominence at lightning speed during World War II, Leonard Bernstein quickly became one of the most famous musicians of all time, gaining notice as a conductor and composer of both classical works and musical theater. One day he was a recent Harvard graduate, struggling to earn a living in the music world.

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Michael Jackson, 10,000 hours, and the roots of creative genius

That any person could become an expert in something if they simply spend about 3 hours per day for ten years is an appealing concept. This idea, first championed by Ericsson and brought to prominence by Gladwell, has now taken root in the popular media. It attempts to discuss these differences in terms of the environment. The idea is that practice with the purpose of constantly gathering feedback and improving can lead any person to become an expert.

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The British are coming: the Summer of 1964 (part two)

By Gordon R. Thompson
In the opening months of 1964, The Beatles turned the American popular music world on its head, racking up hits and opening the door for other British musicians. Lennon and McCartney demonstrated that—in the footsteps of Americans like Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry—British performers could be successful songwriters too.

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Musicians with homonymic names

By Matthew Hough
There are many cases of musicians with homonymic names, including jazz performers Bill Evans (pianist, 1929-1980) and Bill Evans (saxophonist, 1958-), and composers John Adams and John Luther Adams. In the following paragraphs, I discuss musical examples by artists comprising three such pairs.

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The Queen whose Soul was Harmony

In 1701, one year before Princess Anne succeeded to the throne, musicians from London traveled to Windsor to perform a special ode composed for her birthday by the gifted young composer Jeremiah Clarke. The anonymous poet addressed part of his poem to the performers, taking note of Anne’s keen interest in music.

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Barry, Bond, and music on film

Twenty-seven years ago, on 31 July 1987, James Bond returned to the screen in The Living Daylights, with Timothy Dalton as the new Bond. The film also has a notable departure in the style of music, as composer John Barry decided that the film needed a new sound to match this reinvented Bond, and his love interest — a musician with dangerous ties. To celebrate the anniversary, here is a brief extract from The Music of James Bond by John Burlingame.

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Echoes of Billie Holiday in Fancy Free

When Leonard Bernstein first arrived in New York, he was unknown, much like the artists he worked with at the time, who would also gain international recognition. Bernstein Meets Broadway: Collaborative Art in a Time of War looks at the early days of Bernstein’s career during World War II, and is centered around the debut in 1944 of the Broadway musical On the Town and the ballet Fancy Free.

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Debussy and the Great War

By Eric Frederick Jensen
When war was declared in the summer of 1914, Claude Debussy was fifty-one. Widely regarded as the greatest living French composer, he lived in Paris in a fashionable, elegant neighborhood near the Bois de Boulogne.

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In remembrance of Elaine Stritch

Oxford University Press is saddened to hear of the passing of Broadway legend Elaine Stritch. We’d like to present a brief extract from Eddie Shapiro’s interview with Elaine Stritch in November/December 2008 in Nothing Like a Dame.

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Songs for the Games

By Mark Curthoys
Behind the victory anthems to be used by the competing teams at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, which open on 23 July, lie stories both of nationality and authorship. The coronation of Edward VII in 1902 prompted the music antiquary William Hayman Cummings (1831-1915) to investigate the origin and history of ‘God Save the King’.

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