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Nothing in the history of recording approaches Decca’s mammoth venture in producing Wagner’s Ring complete for the first time. It was eight years in the making and this book tells the story of how it was made and the people who made it, written by the man who – as the recording producer – was in charge of the whole project. Conducted by the great Georg Solti, Decca’s recording has been voted the best recording ever made. All the celebrated Wagner singers of their age take their places in the story, including Birgit Nilsson, Kirsten Flagstad, Hans Hotter, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Gottlob Frick and Wolfgang Windgassen. The recording was made in Vienna with the Viennese Philharmonic Orchestra, and Culshaw displayed extraordinary dedication to Wagner’s musical requirements and to putting into practice his own belief that a stereo recording could create a ‘theatre of the mind’. This is the story of how the recording evolved, and how it frequently almost came to grief. More than that, it is the story of how a new medium – recorded opera in stereo – reached fulfilment, and how this ground-breaking recording became seen as the highly influential gold standard for the future.
Listeners have enjoyed classical music recordings for more than a century, yet important issues about recorded performances have been little explored. What is the relationship between performance and recording? How are modern audiences affected by the trends set in motion by the recording era? What is the impact of recordings on the lives of musicians? In this wide-ranging book, Robert Philip extends the scope of his earlier pioneering book, "Early Recordings and Musical Style: Changing Tastes in Instrumental Performance 1900-1950." Philip here considers the interaction between music-making and recording throughout the entire twentieth century. The author compares the lives of musicians and audiences in the years before recordings with those of today. He examines such diverse and sometimes contentious topics as changing attitudes toward freedom of expression, the authority of recordings made by or approved by composers, the globalization of performing styles, and the rise of the period instrument movement. Philip concludes with a thought-provoking discussion of the future of classical music performance.
In the music business for more than thirty years and former manager of the classical division of the Decca Record Company, Culshaw chronicles the growth of the music industry and portrays many of its outstanding figures
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