The pianist and author Charles Rosen has died

10th Dec 2012
Charles Rosen: a true Renaissance man (Photo: Don HunsteinCharles Rosen: a true Renaissance man (Photo: Don Hunstein

The American pianist Charles Rosen has died; he was 85. As an author he is best known for his 1971 study The Classical Style which focuses on the language developed by Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. As a pianist his repertoire ranged from Bach to Boulez and Elliott Carter. 

Reviewing his 2003 book Piano Notes, Bryce Morrison wrote that Rosen's 'comments on a mad-cap world of hard-nosed agents, dubious critics, recalcitrant instruments, competitions (dismissed with damning breviry), the misuse of the master-class and so on are as clear-sighted and unarguable as you could wish and if a worldweary note occasionally obtrudes, his observations are healthily sceptical rather than cynical.'

Rosen studied with Moriz Rosenthal who in turn studied with Liszt and was a close friend of Brahms, a heritage which Rosen drew on in both his careers. He recorded for CBS, Music & Arts, Bridge and his discs included the Debussy Etudes, Beethoven's late piano sonatas and Diabelli Variations and Bach's Art of Fugue and Goldberg Variations.

As well as The Classical Style, Rosen wrote Sonata Forms (1980) and The Romantic Generation (1995) as well as a number of collections of essays. But his interests extended well beyond music and he also wrote Romanticism and Realism: The Mythology of Nineteenth-Century Art (1984), Romantic Poets, Critics, and Other Madmen (2000) and Freedom and the Arts: Essays of Music and Literature (2012). 

He taught extensively and regularly contributed to The New York Review of Books. He was awarded a National Humanities Medal by President Barack Obama earlier this year.

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