The Art of French Piano Music

Debussy, Ravel, Fauré, Chabrier

Roy Howat

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An essential resource for scholars and performers, this study by a world-renowned specialist illuminates the piano music of four major French composers, in comparative and reciprocal context. Howat explores the musical language and artistic ethos of this repertoire, juxtaposing structural analysis with editorial and performing issues. He also relates his four composers historically and stylistically to such predecessors as Chopin, Schumann, Liszt, the French harpsichord school, and Russian and Spanish music.

Challenging long-held assumptions about performance practice, Howat elucidates the rhythmic vitality and invention inherent in French music. In granting Fauré and Chabrier equal consideration with Debussy and Ravel, he redresses a historic imbalance and reshapes our perceptions of this entire musical tradition. Outstanding historical documentation and analysis are supported by Howat’s direct references to performing traditions shaped by the composers themselves. The book balances accessibility with scholarly and analytic rigor, combining a lifetime’s scholarship with practical experience of teaching and the concert platform

Roy Howat is a concert pianist, scholar, editor, lecturer, and broadcaster. He lives in London and Paris and holds the position of Keyboard Research Fellow at the Royal Academy of Music, London.

‘Outstanding…In lesser hands, this ambitious enterprise would be in grave danger of drowning in an ocean of detail, a fate avoided by the clarity of writing and organisation.’

‘Written with a lifetime’s experience of performing and teaching, Row Howat’s superbly produced analytical study will be eagerly digested by academics and performers alike … a thought-provoking read.’

‘[A] marvellous book.’

“Invigorating. . . . The author’s respect for and comprehensive knowledge of his wide-ranging subject, no less than his love for it, is plain on every page.”—Mark DeVoto, Notes

 

“Enlightening . . . Even if you thought you already knew this music well, Howat takes you to unanticipated depths . . . with lively details, unfamiliar anecdotes, and intriguing surmises.”—Jeffrey Chappell, Clavier Companion

“The Art Of French Piano Music will interest all who wish to find out what is really involved in musical performance: to uncover the ‘strength and coherence’ that lie beneath the dazzling exterior.”—Michael Downers, Times Literary Supplement

Winner of the 2009 Book of the Year Award given by International Piano magazine
ISBN: 9780300213058
Publication Date: October 14, 2014
416 pages, 6 1/2 x 9 1/4
3 b/w illus. + 308 musical examples