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Calling on the Composer

Calling on the Composer

Julie Anne Sadie
Stanley Sadie
Copyright Date: 2005
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 448
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  • Book Info
    Calling on the Composer
    Book Description:

    Across Europe, more than three hundred houses and museums commemorate the composers who lived and worked in them. InCalling on the Composer, two distinguished musicologists guide the musically curious traveler or reader to these sites and provide essential information on their content and significance.

    Whether lakeside hut or moated castle, clock tower or cave, village school or fine town house, the physical context for musical genius and the artefacts of day-to-day existence have a powerful impact on how we perceive the figure behind the music we know and love. Julie and Stanley Sadie have journeyed to thirty-one countries to compile this unique travel companion and reference source. They offer practical information for the visitor, seasoned insights, and lively commentary. Richly illustrated and supported by thorough maps, the entries on individual composers trace their steps through the practicalities of life and reveal to us the context of creativity.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-18394-8
    Subjects: History
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. v-viii)
  4. INTRODUCTION (pp. xi-xviii)

    The origins of this book lie in a journey we undertook in 1993. At the time we were engaged in trying to save Handel’s London house, threatened with development as a shop with offices above, and to establish a museum there. The trip was intended partly as a holiday, partly to see what we could learn from how other museums commemorated their subjects, and partly to assemble material for JAS’s MA dissertation in museum and gallery management. We drew up an itinerary taking in some 30 museums we knew of and could visit in the time available.

    As we were...


    The cultural memory of a literate and sophisticated society is bound to be determined by what has survived and has in some way been recorded for future generations. In the arts, the earliest collectors were the wealthy and the literate; accordingly, more often than not, we have inherited the objects – or such of them as have survived – that princes and bishops valued and wanted around them. In Europe, their castles and their cathedrals dominate our oldest architecture; and the art and imagery, the literature and the record-keeping, the music and music-making that best served their ends still colour...


    In the times when music was thought of as a progressive art – that is, when it was taken for granted that the music of any generation represented an improvement on that of the one preceding – the idea of glorifying composers of the past would have seemed strange. A composer’s reputation was unlikely to survive long, in a wider world, when styles and fashions were changing rapidly and change was regarded as progress. Only in the hermetic world of the musicians themselves did reputations persist, and there only briefly. As early as the 14th century, the fact that Guillaume...

  7. III A FRAGILE LEGACY (pp. 35-56)

    It is often pointed out that, unlike a painting, the object that serves to perpetuate a piece of music is not itself a work of art. It is simply a series of instructions for producing one. So the collecting of composers’ manuscripts has never been a preoccupation among the rich and the connoisseurs in the way that collecting pictures has been. People have collected music in order to perform it, not to look at it. Accordingly, music collections and libraries initially developed as necessary adjuncts to performing institutions, mostly in ecclesiastical and princely establishments. Other objects associated with composers have...

  8. IV MUSIC ON DISPLAY (pp. 57-68)

    Musical museums attract the music lover whose main experience of music is as a listener. If visitors are lucky, they will discover something to give added meaning to their pleasure in music. It may be that the museum is connected with familiar or favourite works, or perhaps that the room in which the composer chose to work, the view from his study window, the singing of birds or the rustling of leaves, may offer some lingering resonance with the music.

    Anyone who sings or plays an instrument is accustomed to reading from clearly printed modern editions. It may come as...

  9. The Composer Houses and Museums
    • By country: MAPS (pp. 71-88)
    • By composer: A–Z (pp. 89-412)

      Isaac Albéniz spent only his first two years in the small Pyrenean town of Camprodón, where in 1860 he was born: Barcelona, Madrid, Paris and Nice were his home cities during most of his brief life. But he retained his feeling for his native town, and asked to be buried there; in the event, after his death at Cambo-les-Bains in 1909, he was buried in Barcelona. Camprodón, some 120 km from Barcelona, hilly, attractive, with many old buildings and a large single-span 12th-century bridge over the river Ter, remembers him with an annual festival (inaugurated by Alicia de Larrocha on...

  10. EPILOGUE (pp. 413-418)

    The writing of this book has been something of an odyssey. As we wrote in the Introduction, the idea was conceived twelve years ago, twelve years in which we have both been heavily occupied on other professional tasks. So the necessary research trips had to be fitted in when possible – taking the place of holidays some years, snatched long weekends at other times. The business of locating composer museums and then going to see them came to be something of a passion (some, for example our children, would say a mania). But it gave us the opportunity to see...

  11. INDEX OF PLACES (pp. 419-423)
  12. INDEX OF PERSONS (pp. 424-430)