If one name stands out among musicologists writing today, that name is Joseph Kerman. Eminent, wide-ranging, and wonderfully readable, Kerman's writing on musicology, opera, Beethoven, and Elizabethan music has informed and inspired an extensive audience both in America and abroad.
There is much to interest both the general reader and the musicologist in this collection of twenty essays. Included are several notable pleas addressed by Kerman to his professional colleagues in an effort to get them to adopt a more critical orientation for their work. Other essays range from a moving account of William Byrd as a spokesman for the beleaguered Elizabethan Catholic minority to a discerning analysis of Beethoven's well-known obsession with the key of C minor. The controversial tenets of Kerman's classic Opera as Drama (1956) are reaffirmed in essays on Don Giovanni, The Magic Flute, Tristan und Isolde, Ernani and I Lombardi.
Kerman's legacy to a younger generation is here, too: in an exemplary writing style, he offers challenging models for a humane and historically informed music criticism. An added gem is the Preface, which provides an intellectual and anecdotal road map of the place of the essays in Kerman's academic and public expeditions.
Joseph Kerman has been at the very center of musicology for almost four decades. This overview of his work will be warmly received and greatly valued.