The history of tempo rubato (`stolen time') is as old as music itself, composers and performers ever introducing expressive fluctuation of the tempo contrary to music's precise notation. The technique has been variously described by theorists and composers as `an honest theft', `a pernicious nuisance', even `seductive' (by Franz Liszt), yet it remains integral to the performance and history of music. Professor Hudson's book is the first to
present the complex history of this device. He identifies and traces the development of two main types of rubato: an earlier one in which note values in a melody are altered while the accompaniment keeps strict time, and a later, more familiar, one in which the tempo of the entire musical substance
fluctuates. In the course of his narrative he ranges widely over western music, from Gregorian Chant to Chopin, from C.P.E. Bach to jazz, quoting extensively from the writings of theorists, composers, and performers. In so doing he not only suggests new ways of approaching the rubato in the music of nineteenth-century composers like Chopin and Liszt, where we expect to encounter the term, but also illuminates the music of earlier and later periods, revealing its use even in the music of that
most metronomic of composers, Stravinsky. As such his book will be of wide interest and of particular relevance to performers. The text is illustrated throughout by some 150 music examples and a number of illustrations.
`exhaustive study ... His diligence is impressive ... There is so much here of interest - from footnote comments to fundamental issues of interpretation ... One of the fascinations of this book is that by purporting to concentrate on rubato, it actually shows how much we have still to discover about the beat'
`full of valuable discussion of all sorts of temporal displacements...a stimluating book, with much information'
Early Music Review
`This is the best and most comprehensive study of rubato to date...provides a very comprehensive bibliography, a thorough index, and many musical examples. Highly recommended'
`...this book does contain a wealth of documentary material, much of it unpublished in modern times. Scholars will therefore be grateful to Professor Hudson.'
Times Literary Supplement
`His style is measured and scholarly, with an exceptionally wide range of references and quotations ... performers and scholars alike will find in this book a wealth of information on the history of tempo rubato and on various related topics ... The book is very well presented.'
J. Donald Cullington, Music and Letters, Vol. 77, No. 2, May '96
`Many of us are a bit hazy as to exactly what 'tempo rubato' means and where and how to use it, so this book, which carefully traces its history from 1700 to the present day is very welcome ... the language is approachable and Hudson does not fight shy of suggesting detailed realisations from the major composers. One can only hope it will be read carefully and taken to heart by future performers.'
Kenneth van Barthold, BBC Music
`Richard Hudson's book is the first to deal with the subject in comprehensive fashion, and it is a most impressive study. I have attempted here to summarize some of the main points of the book in the hope of piquing of the reader to explore it in detail. It is a work of extraordinary richness, brilliantly researched, and well written. For his elusive topic the author has found documentation of many kinds ... His evidence is interpreted with scholarly and
musical sensitivity. There is much more to reward a careful reading ... one can only applaud Professor Hudson's accomplishment and recommend his book highly. It belongs in every music library and on the shelf of every performer.'
Barton Hudson, Performance Practice Review, V.9 No.2, Fall 1996
`Richard Hudson's book is the first to deal with the subject in comprehensive fashion, and it is a most impressive study. It is a work of extraordinary richness, brilliantly reserched, and well written. His evidence is interpreted with scholarly and musical sensitivity. There is much more to reward a careful reading ... one can only applaud Professor Hudson's accomplishment and recommend his book highly. It belongs in every music library and on the shelf of
every serious performer.'
Barton Hudson, Performance Practice Review, Volume 9, Number 2, Fall 1996