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Moral Fire

Musical Portraits from America's Fin-de-Siecle

“Our children avidly specialize in vicarious forms of electronic interpersonal diversion. Our laptops and televisions ensnare us in a surrogate world that shuns all but facile passions; only Jon Stewart and Bill Maher share moments of moral outrage disguised as comedy.”

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About

Joseph Horowitz writes in Moral Fire: “If the Met’s screaming Wagnerites standing on chairs (in the 1890s) are unthinkable today, it is partly because we mistrust high feeling. Our children avidly specialize in vicarious forms of electronic interpersonal diversion. Our laptops and televisions ensnare us in a surrogate world that shuns all but facile passions; only Jon Stewart and Bill Maher share moments of moral outrage disguised as comedy.”

Arguing that the past can prove instructive and inspirational, Horowitz revisits four astonishing personalities―Henry Higginson, Laura Langford, Henry Krehbiel and Charles Ives―whose missionary work in the realm of culture signaled a belief in the fundamental decency of civilized human nature, in the universality of moral values, and in progress toward a kingdom of peace and love.

Advance Praise

 

"Consistently fascinating, thought-provoking, and rewarding. This book should be of great interest to anyone who loves music and cares about its place in, and meaning to, society."
—Mark Volpe, Managing Director, Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Reviews

“A thoroughly engrossing read, a journey to an impassioned time rich in ideas, idealism, and hope for the future.” (Chester Lane - Symphony Now)

“Horowitz's prose in "Moral Fire" is graceful and lucid, and his splendid musical analysis of such works as the "Concord" sonata and Ives's evocation of Henry David Thoreau's "silence of the night" are sure to send readers scurrying back to scores and recordings to revisit the works he discusses.” (Marion Lignana Rosenberg - Wall Street Journal)

“Rich in historical detail, Moral Fire is highly rewarding to musicians and historians, bringing a new understanding to the mis-understood Gilded Age.” (Parsons American Record Guide)

“Essential reading for anyone who wants to grasp the distinctive early history of the BSO or the cultural roots of modern-day Boston.” (Jeremy Eichler - Boston Globe)

“Today they are all but forgotten, yet Henry Higginson, Henry Krehbiel and Laura Langford were three American figures of astounding accomplishment. . . . Horowtiz’s book rightly reminds us of the achievements of these major fin-de-siecle protagonists.” (John Robert Brown - Classical Music Magazine)

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