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Mirror of the MusesAlexandra Eddy

Mirror of the Muses

Music as a Reflection of Culture in the Western Tradition (First Edition)
By Alexandra Eddy

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-63189-583-8, 344 pages


In her explanation of the development of Western music, Dr. Alexandra Eddy draws on history, the visual arts, literature, and philosophy to recreate for students the world in which specific works and styles of music were produced. ... Students who read this text will develop an appreciation not just of the music itself but also of what was going on in the world that gave rise to it. Her approach therefore fosters an interdisciplinary cultural awareness of our past, one that is essential to understanding ourselves and our world.—Dr. Annjeanette Wiese, Humanities Program, University of Colorado, Boulder

Alexandra Eddy’s Mirror of the Muses is a major contribution to undergraduate education in the humanities. The book balances breadth and depth – providing cultural perspectives in the tradition of Curt Sachs, and musical context in the vein of Kamien, yet with a contemporary spin that will speak directly to students today. From the origins of Western music through to music of today, Eddy’s text is richly -illustrated with musical examples that support her clear and engaging writing. This is a text that is both sophisticated and readable – and one that I will both use and recommend.—Jonathan Berger, The Denning Family Provostial Professor in Music, Stanford University

In Mirror of the Muses, Dr. Alexandra Eddy deftly brings the history of Western music to life for her reader, whether experienced or lay. ... Dr. Eddy has translated invaluable teaching skills honed over years in the classroom into an accessible, highly informative text that will prove a great pleasure to all and, most importantly, awaken a desire for further exploration of this rich topic.—Giulia Bernardini, Instructor of Humanities and Art History Humanities Program & Libby RAP University of Colorado, Boulder

Mirror of the Muses: Music as a Reflection of Culture in the Western Tradition helps students understand musical works in their historical, geographical, and conceptual contexts. It finds, within the music itself, fascinating clues to the thoughts, beliefs, and customs of the people who composed and performed it.

From Greek music of the Archaic and Classical periods through expressions of multiculturalism in today’s Kronos Quartet performances, students will learn to think about music rather than merely hearing it, and to understand it as culturally significant. Through online research, they will draw connections between musical works and artworks, historical events, scientific discoveries, and more.

In Mirror of the Muses, students discover number symbolism in medieval sacred music; aristocratic interactions embedded in music of Louis XIV’s court; reflections of Baroque-period scientific theory in Bach’s music; Verdi’s operas as an expression of nineteenth century political turmoil; early multiculturalism in Debussy; and the twentieth century redefinition of Classical music, as it began to merge with popular, jazz, rock, and world music.

Mirror of the Muses teaches students to appreciate music as both art form and cultural artifact. It is ideal for introductory courses in humanities and Western civilization, and can also be used in music appreciation classes.

Alexandra Eddy holds a Ph.D. in music history from Stanford University. She has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in humanities, music history, performance practice, music theory, and music appreciation, and has published on scholarly subjects. Also a distinguished modern and Baroque violinist and composer, Dr. Eddy performs and records regularly with the period-instrument opera company Opera Lafayette at the Opéra Royale, Chateau de Versailles in Paris, France, and in Washington, D.C. and New York City. Among her compositions are Stars, a substantial work for violin alone, and the chamber opera Arion, which received a grant from the Boulder Arts Commission.