Uneasy Listening

A caricature guide to 20th-century composers

By John Minnion

The traumatic story of 20th century classical music told in captioned caricatures by John Minnion

If composers could choose their times, how many would have opted for the twentieth century, with the disruptions of two world wars and a Russian revolution, the proliferation of muzak, pop music and traffic noise, the woeful decline of concentration spans.

Everything you wrote would run the risk of going out of fashion by the end of the year, or being played to empty houses because everyone was at home listening to recordings of music from other centuries. And God help your reputation if you wrote tunes.

It was the century when pieces of music became less like stories, more like paintings. When composers went one way, in search of textures and soundworlds, and listeners went the other way in search of easy listening and background music.

Mahler, Debussy, Stravinsky Bartok, Schoenberg, Stockhausen, Messiaen, Boulez... John Minnion's collection of caricatures and captions provide a fascinating view of the protagonists and an insight into what they were up to, as well as suggestions for pieces to listen out for.

Published UK 17 March 2003
112pp 110 illustrations
ISBN: 978-09544499-1-9
Dimensions: 20.6 x 19.6 x 1.2 cm


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"Acute and brilliant verbal summaries acting as a counterpoint to the wit and stylish individuality of the drawings"

   — Robert Saxton

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