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Hugo Wolf : the vocal music /

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In the virtual cottage industry of recent works on fin-de-sicle Vienna, Hugo Wolf (1860-1903) has been somewhat neglected, perhaps because he was the master of a small genre--the late Romantic lied--and never truly made his mark in the larger forms that command greater public attention. But in the realm of song, he is among the greatest inheritors of Schubert and Schumann, one who was both a traditionalist and a modernist. When the Viennese critic Eduard Hanslick disapprovingly dubbed Wolf "the Richard Wagner of the lied," he was paying oblique homage to Wolf's genius as a song composer in the most modern manner. In this book Susan Youens examines five aspects of Wolf's compositional art, each exemplifying a different synthesis of traditionalism and modernity and spanning his entire, tragically brief creative life, from his first efforts to his lapse into insanity in 1897. Wolf's youthful imitations of Schumann (a common phenomenon at the time), his genius for comic songs of a kind unlike any of his predecessors, his part in the ballad revival of the late nineteenth century, Wolf in relation to his contemporaries, and his pursuit of operatic fame--in her investigation of these subjects, Youens discusses the poetic texts as closely as she does the music and includes numerous previously unpublished sketches and fragments, examples from songs now long out-of-print and difficult to obtain, and citations from Wolf's vivid letters and from other sources of the period. For lieder enthusiasts, this book has much that is new or little known to offer.

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