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Johannes Brahms. «Free but Alone»

A Life for a Poetic Music. Translated by Ernest Bernhardt-Kabisch

Constantin Floros

Johannes Brahms was until now widely regarded as the archetype of the «absolute musician». Based on new research, the study shows how close autobiographic and poetic elements are in fact linked to his œuvre. Like Robert Schumann, Brahms subscribed to an aesthetic of «poetic» music. In many of his compositions he got his inspiration from personal experiences, poems or images, as is shown by hitherto unpublished documents, letters, and diary entries, as well as from close analyses of individual works. Brahms’s personality, too, is seen in a new way. He adopted Joseph Joachim’s motto «Frei, aber einsam», «Free but Alone». The tonal code F – A – E, the musical symbol of this, recurs frequently in his works. Not least, the English version of the book, originally published in German in 1997, includes four additional chapters that investigate novel aspects by dealing in detail with the First Symphony, the German Requiem, Nänie and the Four Serious Songs. The American Brahms Society stressed the importance of the study for all those who want to come to know the unknown Brahms.
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The Origins of Russian Music

Introduction to the Kondakarian Notation. Revised, Translated and with a Chapter on Relationships between Latin, Byzantine and Slavonic Church Music by Neil K. Moran

Constantin Floros

Five kondakarian manuscripts dating from the 11 th to 13 th century belong among the oldest witnesses of Russian church music. The Slavonic church texts are accompanied by a peculiar notation which represents the most complex notational system of the European Middle Ages. For centuries this system has been viewed as being undecipherable. In 1962 the author of this book succeeded in deciphering this notation using various methods even though directly compatible Greek sources were unknown at that time. His research appeared in two issues of journal which ceased publication several years ago. After the publication of the first part of this study a Greek philologist discovered in Kastoria (Northern Greece) a unique manuscript with a system of notation similar to that of the Russian kondakaria, confirming there by his research results in a most unexpected and indubitable manner. This path-breaking study has been revised and brought up to date in the present publication. The prominent Russian scholar Yuri Keldysh was of the opinion that «no historian of Russian music would be able to proceed without taking into consideration this study».
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The Origins of Western Notation

Revised and Translated by Neil Moran. With a Report on «The Reception of the «Universale Neumenkunde, 1970-2010»

Constantin Floros

Modern music notation developed out of the so-called square notation and this out of the Latin neumes. The question of where these neumes came from has long been the subject of scholarly debate. As the author demonstrated in his three-volume Universale Neumenkunde published in German in 1970, there is a very close relationship between the Paleo-Byzantine notation and the Latin neumes. Although the study aroused a great deal of dispute, more recent studies have revealed that the relevance of the Neumenkunde remains essentially unchallenged after 40 years. Those path-breaking research results on the relationship of the Greek and Latin notational systems are now available for the first time in a completely revised and augmented English translation.

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Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

A Critical Biography

Constantin Floros

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky remains to this day one of the most-performed Russian composers. Based on recent studies and source editions, this book demonstrates the close interrelationship between Tchaikovsky’s life and his work. The author portrays the versatility of the musician who died at the mere age of 53 under controversial circumstances in St. Petersburg.

About the German edition of this book:

«[…] Constantin Floros devotes himself initially to the biography and then to the compositional oeuvre, divided according to genre and supplemented by concrete illustrations, thus giving greater significance to the music.»

(Forum Musikbibliothek 27, 2006)

«[…] the music gets more weight of its own in the more detailed analyses – illustrated with revealing note citations – which yet always remain readily accessible.»

(Steffen A. Schmidt, Das Orchester 02/2007)

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Passion: Music – An Intellectual Autobiography

Tanslated by Ernest Bernhardt-Kabisch

Constantin Floros

The present autobiography sets out from the contrast between "establishment" and "outsiders" in science and scholarship. It portrays a number of prominent composers, conductors and musicologists and seeks to illuminate the nature of the phenomenon of music from diverse vantage points, centering on cultural, biographic, psychological, philosophic, critical, aesthetic and axiological questions.

 

Lutz Lesle (Das Orchester, 2018): At the price of being deemed an outsider, Floros has devoted a major part of his life's work to the semantic dimension of music,  from the Viennese Classics to Postmodernism. His endeavor has been to preserve for music the dignity of manifold meaning that the school of bean counters were stripping from it by reducing musical scores to structure-analytical databases. "To simply ignore the spiritual depth dimension of important  musical art works," the author bluntly proclaims, "and to limit oneself to the investigation of the 'tonal body': to me there is no greater aberration."

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Wolfgang Amadé Mozart

Undeserved Gift to Humanity

Constantin Floros

Mozart’s ambivalent personality offers a key to a deeper understanding of his music. He could be merry, even boisterous, but from many of his works speaks a deep seriousness. Both mirth and melancholy stamp his being. His operatic music includes both the comic and the tragic. The present study treats the special character of his musical language and the relations between his personality and his multiform oeuvre. Its mission is to grasp the peculiarities of his operatic work, his opere serie, opere buffe and singspiels. The chapter "The Program in the Master Overtures" initiates the series of semantic analyses the author has pursued in other books. In the 19th century, it was fashionable to compare Mozart to Raffael. But the comparison is askew, as the graceful is only one side of his personality.

About the German edition

Chapter II "presents new and even surprising insights into the ‘program’ in Mozart’s master overtures. The connection between overture and drama is viewed from both compositional and semantic points of view. The studies, written with great stylistic and literary knowledge, enter deep into Mozart’s way of working. For both amateurs and cognoscenti, Floros achieves ad better understanding, above all, of the musical interconnections." (Rudolf Angermüller, Mitteilungen des Mozarteums)

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György Ligeti

Beyond Avant-garde and Postmodernism. Translated by Ernest Bernhardt-Kabisch

Constantin Floros

This monograph is an authoritative study of the œuvre of one of the most important composers of our time. For the first time, Ligeti’s key works are presented in the context of their drafts and sketches. His personal and artistic development is set forth and illuminated, and his principal compositions are analyzed and reinterpreted, based on detailed studies of the scores and drafts, as well as on personal conversations with the composer. In addition, numerous questions concerning today’s composing are raised and discussed. Music does not have to be puristic: Ligeti’s spheres of interest are close to universal, embracing history, natural science, and visual arts, as well as music of diverse eras and ethnicities. This expanded world of the musical comprises not just tones and sounds, speech and music, the vocal and the instrumental: Ligeti conceives music as a cosmos of acoustic form.
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Anton Bruckner

The Man and the Work. 2. revised edition

Constantin Floros

While unappreciated and controversial during most of his life, Anton Bruckner is today regarded as the greatest symphonist between Beethoven and Gustav Mahler – in terms of originality, boldness and monumentality of his music. The image of Bruckner the man, however, is still extreme instance of the tenacious power of prejudice. No less a figure than Gustav Mahler coined the aperçu about Bruckner being «a simpleton – half genius, half imbecile». The author is out to correct that misperception. His thesis in this study is that contrary to what has hitherto been asserted, there is an intimate relation between Bruckner’s sacred music and his symphonies from multiple perspectives: biographical data, sources and influences, the psychology of creation, musical structure, contemporary testimony and reception history. Additional chapters assess important Bruckner recordings and interpreters and the progressiveness of his music.
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Alban Berg

Music as Autobiography. Translated by Ernest Bernhardt-Kabisch

Constantin Floros

The central point of this book is the realization that the creative work of Alban Berg, which in recent years has moved to the forefront of scholarly interest, is largely rooted in autobiography, so that therefore one can gain access to the music by studying the inner biography of its creator. Accordingly, the first of the three parts of this volume outlines a character portrait of this great composer. Part two considers the conditions relevant to a deeper understanding of Berg and of the Second Viennese School generally. In part three, then, Berg’s key works will be analyzed and semantically deciphered in terms of his inner biography. The study is based not only on the sources in print but also on the rich unpublished material. Alban Berg was incapable of composing without a program. He needed an extra-musical stimulus. With him, personal experience was the indispensable condition of the creative process: the autobiographic reference was all-important for composing.
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New Ears for New Music

Translated by Kenneth Chalmers

Constantin Floros

20th-century music is characterized by a bewildering multitude of trends and movements. Often several movements co-exist in contradiction to each other, in a reflection of the century’s intellectual currents and social and political changes, and the reactions they prompted. In this book, renowned musicologist and author Constantin Floros provides a survey of the different styles and tendencies in new music, presenting the most important composers from Schoenberg to Rihm in a series of fluent and readable essays that will appeal to connoisseurs and non-specialists alike. For Floros, music and biography are inseparable, and here he puts music in the context of the social and psychological background of its time.