The Unanswered Question: Six Talks at Harvard
Last updated: 17.12.19
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Perhaps Bernstein's greatest achievement!, February 27, 2003
Reviewer:Eric Bluestinefrom Philadelphia, PA United States
How inspiring it is that one of the greatest conductors of the last century devoted so much time and mental energy to the language/music analogy. These six lectures are a delicious feast for the mind. Bernstein's basic premise is that, although music is not a language (because it lacks a prosaic, communicative function), it shares an expressive function with poetry. In fact, the metaphorical processes that give rise to poetic creation also make possible musical development--with one important difference: music, unlike poetry, does not need to be transformed from a prose surface structure into a musical surface structure. Subtle stuff.
But as Bernstein supports his statements with musical and poetic examples, the listener/reader/viewer cannot help but be fascinated and transfixed. If you're interested in music, poetry, and artistic creativity in general, you'll find each lecture to be a glorious journey. Despite what a previous reviewer has written, the first two lectures are not "the weakest part of the series." Rather, they contain fascinating speculations about music and language from a great thinker.