The Unanswered Question
April 13, 2013 5:44 PM   Subscribe

Here's a link to (YT) videos of all six 1973 Leonard Bernstein Norton lectures on one handy page.

The annual Norton Lectures at Harvard deal with the subject of 'poetry in the broadest sense'. In 1973 they were given by composer Leonard Bernstein. A page on the Leonard Bernstein website gives further details regarding the content, background and importance of the six lectures he gave.

In more than 11 hours of material, Bernstein first analyses the phonology, syntax and semantics of music before turning to look more closely at the Romantic period, at the atonality of (some) 20th century music, and at Stravinsky.

The series is named after Charles Ives' 1906 work The Unanswered Question.

(Previously in Norton lectures posts: Borges, 1968)
posted by motty (5 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
Wow, thanks. I listened to these on LPs from my local public library almost 30 years ago. They're fascinating.
posted by hwestiii at 8:02 PM on April 13, 2013

Nthing thanks, I have distinct memories of his discussion of Debussy from childhood, but I don't think I saw all of them. I did see Maestro Cage give a Norton lecture, if you're in the area they are open to the public.
posted by sammyo at 8:12 PM on April 13, 2013

Everyone should watch this!!

I discovered VHS tapes of these in my high school library years ago and it was a find that I was very proud of. What I remember finding most striking was the beauty and precision of Bernstein's vocal delivery. I know he had notes, but his delivery flows like no one else I've ever heard. The narrative of the set of lectures is also very well-constructed and easy to follow over the course of the lectures.
posted by musicismath at 9:30 PM on April 13, 2013

Bernstein, was, of course a musical master, just as home in the conductor's podium as he was as a composer and a great teacher. He was very well versed in literature and poetry from an early age, as the lecture on Ambiguity shows. His articulation and intelligence are in full bloom here and these lectures are a definitive pleasure. The portions with the Boston Symphony, with Bernstein conducting, are great illustrations of his passion as well.Thanks for a great post.
posted by Seekerofsplendor at 4:35 PM on April 14, 2013

OK I watched the first three. I heard about this a long time ago and I have had these expensive DVD's on my amazon wish list for a while.

The thing that stood out above the information and content was the power and charisma that guy emitted. Out of a laptop youtube window. He must have been something else in person. I winced with pain every time his lung disease symptoms were evident. Another tangent: in 1973 they sure had a big fraction of white guys in the Boston Symphony.

I am curious if any real linguists ever did anything with his hypothesized Chomsky structure deal.
posted by bukvich at 8:12 PM on April 16, 2013

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