BOOKS: ABSOLUTE PITCH

PIANIST CHARLES ROSEN TURNS MUSICOLOGY INTO AN ART FORM

IN THE FRONTIERS OF MEANING, A lively inquiry into music aesthetics published last year, Charles Rosen admiringly paraphrased painter Barnett Newman: "Musicology is for musicians what ornithology is for the birds."

It was probably Newman's epigrammatic conciseness that Rosen savored, not any disdain for the discipline to which he has committed so much of his career. Still, the idea conveys a familiar question: Is anything to be gained from description, analysis and criticism of music that cannot be discerned by listening to the music? After all, medical philosophy, however well wrought, cannot save a life. In both disciplines, what matters is...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!