Observations on Music, Culture, and Politics
This book brings together the collected writings of Daniel Asia from the last 10 years. The articles, reviews, and essays gathered here originally appeared in noted publications such as The New Criterion and Academic Questions, and as blog entries with the Huffington Post. Topics discussed include classical music, universities, Judaism, politics, and American culture. All essays are presented in clear and elegant non-academic prose, and are often imbued with a wry and delicate sense of humor. This book is a fine introduction to the current state of high culture in America, with an emphasis on classical music and its recent and current best composers. As such, it is perfect for the curious lay person seeking knowledge in these areas, and for academics and their students working in the areas of music composition, music history, introduction to music, sociology, politics, education, American studies and Jewish studies.
Daniel Asia is Director of the American Culture and Ideas Initiative and Professor of Music Composition at the University of Arizona. He is a composer, conductor, educator, writer, and critic. He is the editor of the book The Future of (High) Culture in America, and was featured in The Jewish Experience in Classical Music: Shostakovich and Asia. He has been an eclectic and unique composer from the start. His music has been commissioned and performed by many of the major American orchestras and some of the world’s most important performers. He has enjoyed grants from Meet the Composer, the Copland Fund, Koussevitsky, and Fromm Foundations, and received the United Kingdom Fulbright Arts Award, Guggenheim, MacDowell, Tanglewood, and DAAD Fellowships, and ASCAP and BMI prizes, among others. He was recently honored with a Music Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
“Dan Asia's essays spring from a love of what used to be called "high culture," but also from an affection for the richness of the world around him. He possesses that Montaignian curiosity that illuminates every subject he touches. Music he holds dearest and knows best, and his book is the perfect place to begin if you are curious about the peaks (and some of the valleys) of serious classical music over the last half century, but Asia opens unexpected windows as well on higher education, popular culture, and politics. He is a tough-minded critic who does not trim his judgments to current fashions, but even those who end up on the wrong end of his fork will have to admire the grace of criticisms.”
President of the National Association of Scholars
“This much-needed book leaves no possible doubt of Daniel Asia's double-barreled talent: not only is he a first-class composer, but he writes about music and culture with the same lucidity, directness, and elegance that you can hear in his compositions. American music is lucky to have him.”
Author of Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong and Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington
“Dan Asia is a fearless voice at a dangerous moment for the arts, not least in our United States.”
““Music is dead. Music criticism is dead and buried.” Don't believe it. Dan Asia’s sprightly and wide-ranging essays on music and culture are both passionate and deeply informative, bespeaking a composer’s intimate knowledge and a scholar’s learning. This is an engaging and allegro volume, full of piquant observation and companionable human sympathy. Above all, perhaps, it is a welcome sign of life on cultural and academic landscape that is brittle with absurdity and disfigured by political posturing.”
Editor, The New Criterion
“A pervasive theme in composer Daniel Asia’s collection of his writings on music from various sources over the last decade, is that an appreciation of classical music in America, and for that matter, high art in general, is in seriously disturbing decline. This is not a new perspective and has been routinely dismissed as alarmist in the past. But his clear-toned and intellectually honest arguments make a convincing case for his stridency. […] Asia is in an especially good position to assess the situation. First of all, he is a very fine composer himself (I have reviewed several of his CDs in this publication and interviewed him twice). He is also in the midst of academia, as Professor of Composition at the University of Arizona. […] One of the most thoughtful and useful sections of the book is Asia’s overview of the state of contemporary classical music composition, including a couple of dozen brief sketches of some composers of our day (most of whom are still alive) that he admires.”
Fanfare Magazine, August 2021
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