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Charles Rosen (born May 5, 1927) is an American pianist and author on music.

In his youth he studied piano with Moriz Rosenthal. Rosenthal, born in 1862, had been a student of Franz Liszt. Rosenthal's memories of the 19th century in classical music were communicated to his pupil and appear frequently in Rosen's later writings.

Rosen has said that the pianist Józef Hofmann, whom he heard every year from age three, was a greater influence on him than Rosenthal. He recalls having played for Leopold Godowsky at age seven; Godowsky asked Rosen what he would like to be when he grew up, and, to Godowsky's amusement, Rosen answered, "I want to be a pianist like Józef Hofmann." Rosen has also named Arturo Toscanini as a great influence.

Following his training Rosen pursued a successful career as a concert pianist, appearing in numerous recitals and orchestral engagements around the world. He recorded a number of 20th century works at the invitation of their composers, including music by Stravinsky, Elliott Carter, and Pierre Boulez. His recordings also include earlier literature such as Debussy's Études, Schumann's works for solo piano, Beethoven's late sonatas and Diabelli Variations, and Bach's The Art of Fugue;

Rosen is also the author of many acclaimed books about music. Perhaps his most famous work is The Classical Style (1971), which analyzes the nature and evolution of the high classical style as it was developed by Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. Sonata Forms (1980) is in some ways a follow-up on The Classical Style; it is an intensive analysis of the primary musical form used in the classical era. The Romantic Generation (1995) covers the work of the early generation of Romantic composers, including Chopin, Liszt, Schumann, and Mendelssohn.

Although Charles Rosen in the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians is referred as one of the musicologist Oliver Strunk's students, he never formally studied musicology and he has not gained a degree in musicology.

The polymathic Rosen has also published in other areas of the humanities: Romanticism and Realism: The Mythology of Nineteenth-Century Art and Romantic Poets, Critics, and Other Madmen.

Rosen has from time to time held positions as a university professor. He holds a Ph.D. in French Literature from Princeton Universitymarker and has taught at Harvard Universitymarker, Stony Brook Universitymarker, University of Chicagomarker, University of Oxfordmarker and the Royal Northern College of Musicmarker. He is a regular contributor to The New York Review of Books.


  1. Interview published in the June 2007 edition of BBC Music Magazine
  2. In the cited BBC interview, Rosen notes that he refuses to perform the last-named work complete in concert, expressing a belief that it was intended for home study and cannot be played as Bach would have intended except in solitude, for personal pleasure.
  3. Kenneth Levy. "Strunk, Oliver." In Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online, (accessed July 27, 2008).
  4. Rosen, Charles, "Τα μόνα προβλήματα της μουσικής είναι ...όλα τα υπόλοιπα." (The only problems of music are... all the rest) Interview by Paris Konstantinidis. Highlights, 35, Athens, July-August 2008, p. 152-154.


External links

  • Charles Rosen page at his agent's web site:
  • Denis Dutton essay on Charles Rosen:
  • Library of Congress Bicentennial Biography of Charles Rosen:
  • Biography of Charles Rosen at Bach Cantatas:
  • All Music site's biography of Charles Rosen:

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