Keeping Score, Michael Tilson Thomas with the San Francisco Symphony

Daniel Barolsky

Abstract


The San Franciso Symphony’s Keeping Score video series presents performances of a featured work (Beethoven’s Eroica, Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique, Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5, and Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring) under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas followed by the story of the music with Thomas’s own analysis and interpretation. The performances are powerful and offer revelatory perspectives on these standard works. As tools for teaching music history, however, the DVDs are limited because the singular dramatic narrative of Thomas’s analysis does not offer the complexity, tension, and more nuanced perspectives that provide students with the necessary skills for thinking critically about the musical past. The DVDs work best for viewers already interested in classical music who prefer a single narrative explanation of the works.



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ISSN 2155-109X