Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Archive for Nicolas Slonimsky

Dr. Bob Prescribes Nicolas Slonimsky

My Music History Monday post of November 25 last discussed, among other things, the role of the critic. Over the course of that post I asserted that “painful to the critical community though it may be, the fact remains that the surest way for a critic to be remembered is to get it wrong.”  That statement led me to mention one of my very favorite musical resources: “There is a wonderful book that I cannot live without entitled Lexicon of Musical Invective: Critical Assaults on Composers Since Beethoven’s Time, gathered and edited by Nicolas Slonimsky, which catalogs all the worst things said about all our favorite composers.”  Every music lover should own this book, for a number of reasons. First of all, it’s a wonderful, even inspiring read. A true critical bashing doesn’t just consist of saying that something was bad; no, way more often than not, the critics featured in the Lexicon launch their poison pens on flights of truly brutal, vituperative ugliness. For example, Eduard Hanslick’s famous (infamous!) review of the world premiere of Peter Tchaikovsky’s wonderful Violin Concerto in D, a review published in Vienna in the Neue Freie Presse on December 5, 1881, concludes this way: […]

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