Discovering music

Thursday, May 03, 2007 at 12:00 PM

As an avid classical music fan, I recently looked for some of my favorite composers on Google Book Search to see what I could dig up. A quick search for the avant-garde maverick John Cage led me to a collection of Cage's lectures and writings called "Silence." In this limited preview of the book, the Zen-inspired composer muses on the meaning of music, posing questions that are every bit as playful as his compositions.

Take this head-scratcher: "Which is more musical, a truck passing by a factory or a truck passing by a music school?" Or this one: "Are sounds just sounds or are they Beethoven?"

Speaking of Beethoven, I found a number of modern biographies, musical companion guides, and commentaries on the maestro's most lasting works. I was also pleased to discover this 1907 edition of Beethoven's only opera, "Fidelio," presented here as sheet music written for the piano. Though my sight reading is a little rusty, I was able to follow along to the notes as I listened to a recording of the overture, and if I had a bit more time on my hands I might have downloaded the PDF version to follow the arias as well.

I recommend searching Google Book Search for other composers to see what you might find. Whether it's Mozart's piano concertos or Mahler's symphonies, a lot of sheet music is currently available in limited preview on Google Book Search, giving you a taste of your favorite compositions as they appear on the printed page.


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