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The Classical Style: Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  1,334 ratings  ·  31 reviews
This outstanding book treating the three most beloved composers of the Vienna School is basic to any study of Classical-era music. Drawing on his rich experience and intimate familiarity with the works of these giants, Charles Rosen presents his keen insights in clear and persuasive language. For this expanded edition, now available in paperback for the first time, Rosen h ...more
Paperback, Expanded Edition, 560 pages
Published January 17th 1998 by W. W. Norton Company (first published 1971)
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Average rating 4.22  · 
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Manuel Antão
Sep 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.



Society of Extremes: "The Classical Style: Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven" by Charles Rosen


The issue of why Mozart is a stranger in our messed-up, impatient, overstimulated world, and why we need to approach him on different (musical) terms than the armour-plated ones we use to navigate our daily lives today if we are to appreciate what makes him so special. For me, the works which garner most unanimous appreciation have perhaps been the tou
...more
Barnaby Thieme
Mar 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: music
Charles Rosen is one of the great musicologists of the twentieth century and in The Classical Style he does a marvelous job characterizing the classical style as epitomized by its three great masters, Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven.

Of all the formal principles that have defined any period, the elements of classical style are perhaps most amenable to formal analysis. The classical period is principally characterized by sonata form and tonality. We can agree with Sir Donald Tovey that we do violenc
...more
Simon Mcleish
Jun 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Originally published on my blog here in January 2000.

One of the best known works on classical music (in the wider sense as well as the narrower one of the title) written in the second half of this century, The Classical Style has been re-issued in a new edition. Considering what has happened in the last thirty years, remarkably little has been changed; this is partly because Rosen felt (as he says in the foreword) that to revise it would mean a complete rewrite, as the book he would write today
...more
Genni
Feb 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: music
This was an absolutely fantastic read. Rosen’s depth of knowledge and enthusiasm for his subject(s) truly engaged this reader as he deftly put into words some of the more magical and mysterious elements of the great music of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven.

Rosen’s material covered very few biographical details. He focuses entirely on the inherent value each piece of music had. While it was impossible to cover the pieces of these masters comprehensively, his observations did provide an in-depth look
...more
I-kai
Jul 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A classic about the classical style in classical music. Nice prose, combines technical analysis with musical insight well. Already tempted to reread it
Carol
Apr 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: music
This book was brilliant! I highly recommend it to all musicians. Charles Rosen is an amazing musicologist. Not only does he have a lot of insight into music, but he is able to express himself with a great deal of intelligence and clarity. His understanding of the classical style is inedible. From this book I have gained a better understanding not only of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, but also of music in general. I now know why these three composers are considered to be among the greatest. In ad ...more
Stephen Gamble
Jul 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Truly mind expanding. A book I have gone back to again and again - partly because I didn't fully understand it the first time that I read it. Rosen makes academic musicology accessible to those who are curious but untutored, however you do have to put the book down sometimes to let you brain have a rest. On occasions, as when writing about the pastoral style in Haydn's symphonies, he can become quite poetic. I wish he would write about what the music might be expressing a little more often rathe ...more
Dobiasz
Jul 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A kimże ja jestem, żeby taką biblię recenzować.
Matt
Aug 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
One of the best books on music I've read. I would have given it five stars but for the Haydn chapters, and that's my fault: you really have to know the music to get very much from this book, and I'm not very well versed in Haydn.

This is an academic book. Rosen is a musicologist and he makes no special effort to write for the layman. As a result, his prose is full of esoteric technical jargon, some of which went over this layman's head. Still, some of his analyses of favorite pieces strike with
...more
Robert Lukins
Feb 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A classic text on the Classical subject; does all the things you'd imagine.
David
Jun 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
Not easy reading by any means, but if this work isn't a product of genius, it must be close! For various reasons, I took more than 6 months from the time I started this book to finish it. The first reason was that there are hundreds of musical examples in this book, and I wanted at least listen to the ones that were discussed the most as I read about them. Second, I owned this book, and have a revolving door of library books with due dates that I'm always trying to make time to read. Sometimes I ...more
Sitatunga
Jun 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music
Just a quotation - pp.162-63

The pretension of Haydn’s symphonies to a simplicity that seems to come from Nature itself is no mask but the true claim of a style whose command over the whole range of technique is so great that it can ingenuously afford to disdain the outward appearance of high art. Pastoral is generally ironic with the irony of one who aspires to less than he deserves, hoping he will be granted more. But Haydn’s pastoral style is more generous, with all its irony: it is the true h
...more
CW King
Jan 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Though Rosen can be a bit long-winded and his passive-voice writing style can be tiring, the book is full of incredibly useful information to the understanding of music and the genius of the Classical composers Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven. One of the most important books I've ever read; it has basically changed my life.
Joan Rabe
Mar 17, 2019 rated it liked it
This was way too dense for me even though I’ve been studying music theory. I scanned giant chunks of it, particularly the detailed analysis of specific pieces of music. But I did learn a lot from the more general information.
Caleb Hu
Aug 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Clear, informative, very useful for the classical pianist.
Sev1
Mar 11, 2020 added it
Good
Eileen
Aug 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent reference material, but it's written dryly.
Raymond Kim
Jul 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Clearly structured. Read relevant chapters. Moments reek of elitism, which is to be expected from a New Yorker. Reconstructions are clean and legible.
Barbara Phillips-Farley
Jun 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
What a slog! For me, this book does not necessarily need to be read sequentially. There are nougats on almost every page, and the writing is dense. Of course Rosen is opinionated and erudite -- that makes him more fun and all the more intimidating. THE CLASSICAL STYLE really is a brilliant achievement, with numerous musical examples. It's much more about Mozart and Haydn than about Beethoven.
Mark
Jul 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music
I've been meaning to read this book for a long time, it's seen as a key work on the classical music of Haydn and Mozart. Although I'm not sure sure I was prepared from a theoretical point of view to fully appreciate the nuances I'm pleased I managed to get through it.

I will undoubtedly read it again in the future, hopefully having sharpened both my knowledge of music theory and the works discussed.
Lcitera
Mar 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
A fascinating quick read offering advice as to practice, study habits (sight read all of the Schubert and Beethoven piano sonatas) and glimpses into the world of piano competitions and recordings. Esoteric, but interesting.
Oh no...this review is for the book PIANO NOTES by the same author...but when tapped, this book appeared and I did not catch the error until posted!
Elias B
Jun 20, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: school-reading, music
I really enjoyed Rosen's style of writing but I felt he didn't go into enough detail on how the composers were inspired by different composers and some of the analysis seemed overly technical and a bit pseudo-Shenckerian rather than actually looking into the cultural phenomena that were 'The Three.' Otherwise he makes a compelling argument.
John
Aug 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014, music
Arguably the most significant musicology book of the 20th century. Every time I pick it up I come away with a new insight into the music I've been listening to since I was a wee little one. Some music theory knowledge is necessary to understand much of what Rosen discusses, but it's worth it for those who really want to understand how this music works.
Liz
The introduction is somewhat off-putting, particularly when Rosen describes what contents he will and will not include and why, but the following text does contain information that warrants continued reading.
Dgfletch
Aug 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Currently re-reading actually. This is the very best book I've ever read that I hardly understand at all. The really priceless thing is that reading it again has made me listen to Haydn String Quartets. They are sublime. And Mozart String Quintets which are sublime and also gut-wrenching.
Robert Costin
Nov 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Undoubtedly a classic of its kind, particularly the chapters on Haydn Trios and Mozart Quintets. Always makes me want to go back and listen to the music, no higher praise.
Daniel
Dec 11, 2009 is currently reading it
Rosen! I love this guy's writing. It is fascinating and makes me want to write music as I read along.
Jack Laschenski
Dec 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant, but beyond my ken.
Phyllis Jennings
Loved it!
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Classical pianist, polymath, author of books on musical styles and musicology.

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