Obituary: Pianist and author Charles Rosen, 85

Posted on: December 11, 2012

In Tuesday’s (12/11) New York Times, Margalit Fox writes, “Charles Rosen, the pianist, polymath and author whose National Book Award-winning volume ‘The Classical Style’ illuminated the enduring language of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, died on Sunday in Manhattan. He was 85. Published in 1971, ‘The Classical Style’ examines the nature of Classical music through the lens of its three most exemplary practitioners. Given that these titans were working with the same raw materials—the 12 notes of the Western musical scale—as the Baroque composers who had preceded them, just what was it, Mr. Rosen’s book asked, that gave their music its unmistakable character? The answers, he concluded, could be gleaned from a penetrating analysis of the structure of Classical compositions. It was precisely this structure that his book, through a painstaking unraveling of Haydn’s string quartets, Mozart’s comic operas, Beethoven’s piano sonatas and other seminal works, sought to make plain. … ‘The Classical Style’ received the National Book Award for nonfiction in 1972. As a renowned writer and lecturer on music who was also a concert pianist of no small reputation, Mr. Rosen was among the last exemplars of a figure more typically associated with the 19th century: the international scholar-musician.” Click here to read a chapter from Rosen’s recent Music and Sentiment, excerpted as a SymphonyOnline exclusive.

Posted December 11, 2012