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Tovey Essays In Musical Analysis Chamber Music

Sir Donald Francis Tovey, (born July 17, 1875, Eton, Berkshire, Eng.—died July 10, 1940, Edinburgh, Scot.), English pianist and composer, known particularly for his works of musical scholarship.

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Tovey studied the piano and counterpoint and graduated from the University of Oxford in 1898. Between 1900 and 1902 he gave recitals of his works in London, Berlin, and Vienna. In 1903 he played his Piano Concerto in London, and between 1906 and 1912 he organized concerts of chamber music at Chelsea. Besides the Piano Concerto his compositions include two string quartets, the opera The Bride of Dionysus (first produced in 1929), and a cello concerto (1934). In 1914 he was appointed Reid Professor of Music at the University of Edinburgh, and in 1917 he founded there the Reid Symphony Orchestra. For the concerts given by this orchestra Tovey wrote analytical notes dealing with problems of composition in a perspicacious and lively manner; these notes were published as Essays in Musical Analysis, 6 vol. (1935–39). They set styles in musical analysis, as, for example, Tovey’s distinction between music in and on the dominant—when the music has not fully modulated and when it has.

Tovey’s other historical studies include articles on music written for Encyclopædia Britannica and reprinted as Musical Articles from the Encyclopædia Britannica (1944) and his Essays and Lectures on Music, edited by H.J. Foss (1949). Though later writers surpassed Tovey in psychological perception, the elegance and wit of his style broadened the appeal of music criticism and helped to establish it as a literary genre. He was knighted in 1935.

Sir Donald Tovey's Essays in Musical Analysis are a series of analytical essays on classical music.

The essays came into existence as programme notes, written by Tovey, to accompany concerts given (mostly under his own baton) by the Reid Orchestra in Edinburgh. Between 1935 and 1939, they were published in six volumes as Essays in Musical Analysis. Each volume focused on a certain genre of orchestral or choral music (for example, Volumes I and II were devoted to Symphonies; Volume III to Concertos), with many of the works discussed with the help of music examples. In 1944, a posthumous seventh volume appeared on chamber music.

Tovey's Essays were written as introductory notes for the concert-going public and are occasionally light-hearted in tone. Nevertheless, they analyse the pieces and describe their structure in much more depth than standard programme notes, even in a few pages each. Tovey saw his role as being "counsel for the defence" (Introduction to Volume I): in speaking up on behalf of the work about to be performed, he was seeking to facilitate the listener's appreciation of its artistic content and technical merits. As a result, his approach tends to 'track' the structure of a work as it unfolds through time before the ear of his imaginary 'naive listener'.

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