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Catalogue No: 9780520267442
Moral Fire

Status: Usually despatched within 10 - 12 working days

Subtitle: Musical Portraits from America's Fin de Siècle

Department: Biographies & Reference Books - Books & Literature (Classical)

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Joseph Horowitz writes in Moral Fire: “If the Met’s screaming Wagnerites standing on chairs (in the 1890s) are unthinkable today, it is partly because we mistrust high feeling. Our children avidly specialize in vicarious forms of electronic interpersonal diversion. Our laptops and televisions ensnare us in a surrogate world that shuns all but facile passions; only Jon Stewart and Bill Maher share moments of moral outrage disguised as comedy.”

Arguing that the past can prove instructive and inspirational, Horowitz revisits four astonishing personalities—Henry Higginson, Laura Langford, Henry Krehbiel and Charles Ives—whose missionary work in the realm of culture signaled a belief in the fundamental decency of civilized human nature, in the universality of moral values, and in progress toward a kingdom of peace and love.

Joseph Horowitzis the author of Classical Music in America, Artists in Exile, (UC Press), Understanding Toscanini, and Wagner Nights. Previously a New York Times music critic, then Executive Director of the Brooklyn Philharmonic, he is currently Artistic Director of DC's Post-Classical Ensemble.

Hardcover, 270 pages

ISBN: 9780520267442

May 2012

Contents and Reviews


List of Illustrations Introduction Prologue: Screaming Wagnerites and America’s Fin de Siècle Music and moral passion—Revisionist portraiture—Framing “fin de siècle” 1. Henry Higginson: High Culture, High Finance, and Useful Citizenship Civil War service—A second home in Vienna—Announcing the Boston Symphony Orchestra—John Sullivan Dwight and musical uplift—Building Symphony Hall—Choosing a conductor—“Masculine” business versus “feminine” art—Karl Muck and the Great War 2. Henry Krehbiel: The German-American Transaction Race and the World’s Columbian Exposition—The making of a music critic—Anton Seidl and Wagnerism made wholesome—Antonín Dvo ák and “Negro melodies”—An activist “American school of criticism”—“Salome” and Mahler debacles—German-Americans and the Great War—Art as uplift 3. Laura Holloway Langford: Servitude, Disquiet, and “The History of Womankind” “The Ladies of the White House”—A tangled past—From theosophy to Wagnerism—Musical missionary work—“Earnest, manly women”—Reforming the Shakers—A life in limbo 4. Charles Ives: Gentility and Rebellion Charles and Harmony—A life saga—The business of life insurance—Transcendentalism in music—The symphonic ideal—Stream of consciousness—Ives’s “nervous complex”—The residual Progressive Summation: Defining an American Fin de Siècle Boston decadents—A fin-de-siècle template—Mark Twain and hybridity—“Social control” and “sacralization”—World War I poisons Romantic uplift Notes Index