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Love it or loathe it, few would disagree that the music of Harrison Birtwistle stands amongst the most assured, original and challenging music ever to have been produced by a British composer. While for some the uncompromisingly modernist surface of his music can be an obstacle to closer acquaintance, for others, it is Birtwistle's articulation of deep aspects of the human psyche that continues to excite and fascinate. In this book, Jonathan Cross - a leading commentator on contemporary music - aims to uncover the sources of Birtwistle's thinking, and to present a critical account of his musical, dramatic and aesthetic preoccupations through an examination of such topics as theatre, myth, ritual, pastoral, pulse and line. He offers a range of contexts within which the music can be understood so that the curious and the initiated alike may be drawn towards new and enriching experiences of the extraordinarily powerful music of Harrison Birtwistle.

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