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“With spirited charm, Mead weaves history, music, science, and medicine into the story...Fascinating, insightful, and, best of all, great fun.” — The Washington Post A jewel of musical history—the story of Ben Franklin’s favorite invention, the glass armonica—including the composers who wrote for it (Mozart, Beethoven, Handel, among others); Dr. Mesmer who used it to hypnot “With spirited charm, Mead weaves history, music, science, and medicine into the story...Fascinating, insightful, and, best of all, great fun.” — The Washington Post A jewel of musical history—the story of Ben Franklin’s favorite invention, the glass armonica—including the composers who wrote for it (Mozart, Beethoven, Handel, among others); Dr. Mesmer who used it to hypnotize; Marie Antoinette and the women who popularized it; its decline and recent comeback. Benjamin Franklin is renowned for his landmark inventions, including bifocals, the Franklin stove, and the lightning rod. Yet his own favorite invention—the one he said gave him the “greatest personal satisfaction”—is unknown to the general public. The glass armonica, the first musical instrument invented by an American, was constructed of stacked glass bowls and played by rubbing one’s fingers on the rims. It was so popular in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries that Mozart, Beethoven, Handel, and Strauss composed for it; Marie Antoinette and numerous monarchs played it; Goethe and Thomas Jefferson praised it; Dr. Franz Mesmer used it for his hypnotizing Mesmerism sessions. Franklin himself played it for George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. In Angelic Music, Corey Mead describes how Franklin’s instrument fell out of popular favor, partly due to claims that its haunting sounds could drive musicians out of their minds. Some players fell ill, complaining of nervousness, muscle spasms, and cramps. Audiences were susceptible; a child died during a performance in Germany. Some thought its ethereal tones summoned spirits or had magical powers. It was banned in some places. Yet in recent years, the armonica has enjoyed a revival. Composers are writing pieces for it in genres ranging from chamber music and opera to electronic and pop music. Now Mead brings this instrument back to the public eye, telling the compelling, fascinating story of its origins.


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“With spirited charm, Mead weaves history, music, science, and medicine into the story...Fascinating, insightful, and, best of all, great fun.” — The Washington Post A jewel of musical history—the story of Ben Franklin’s favorite invention, the glass armonica—including the composers who wrote for it (Mozart, Beethoven, Handel, among others); Dr. Mesmer who used it to hypnot “With spirited charm, Mead weaves history, music, science, and medicine into the story...Fascinating, insightful, and, best of all, great fun.” — The Washington Post A jewel of musical history—the story of Ben Franklin’s favorite invention, the glass armonica—including the composers who wrote for it (Mozart, Beethoven, Handel, among others); Dr. Mesmer who used it to hypnotize; Marie Antoinette and the women who popularized it; its decline and recent comeback. Benjamin Franklin is renowned for his landmark inventions, including bifocals, the Franklin stove, and the lightning rod. Yet his own favorite invention—the one he said gave him the “greatest personal satisfaction”—is unknown to the general public. The glass armonica, the first musical instrument invented by an American, was constructed of stacked glass bowls and played by rubbing one’s fingers on the rims. It was so popular in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries that Mozart, Beethoven, Handel, and Strauss composed for it; Marie Antoinette and numerous monarchs played it; Goethe and Thomas Jefferson praised it; Dr. Franz Mesmer used it for his hypnotizing Mesmerism sessions. Franklin himself played it for George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. In Angelic Music, Corey Mead describes how Franklin’s instrument fell out of popular favor, partly due to claims that its haunting sounds could drive musicians out of their minds. Some players fell ill, complaining of nervousness, muscle spasms, and cramps. Audiences were susceptible; a child died during a performance in Germany. Some thought its ethereal tones summoned spirits or had magical powers. It was banned in some places. Yet in recent years, the armonica has enjoyed a revival. Composers are writing pieces for it in genres ranging from chamber music and opera to electronic and pop music. Now Mead brings this instrument back to the public eye, telling the compelling, fascinating story of its origins.

30 review for Angelic Music: The Story of Benjamin Franklin's Glass Armonica

  1. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    Angelic Music by Corey Mean is the story of Ben Franklin's Glass Armonica, the invention that gave him the "greatest personal satisfaction." When we lived in Philadelphia in the mid 1970s to late 1980s we saw the Glass Armonica at the Franklin Institute. And we had heard a man perform on musical glasses in several venues around the time of the Bicentenniel. So I had heard the ethereal, angelic music of the musical glasses. I had not realized that the Glass Armonica was all the rage in the 18th c Angelic Music by Corey Mean is the story of Ben Franklin's Glass Armonica, the invention that gave him the "greatest personal satisfaction." When we lived in Philadelphia in the mid 1970s to late 1980s we saw the Glass Armonica at the Franklin Institute. And we had heard a man perform on musical glasses in several venues around the time of the Bicentenniel. So I had heard the ethereal, angelic music of the musical glasses. I had not realized that the Glass Armonica was all the rage in the 18th c and early 19th c. Chamber music including the instrument was written by Mozart, Beethoven, and Handel. Vituosos toured Europe playing the music that made women swoon. It gained a tarnished reputation in the early 19th c when people believed the music could drive one mad and cause illness, or summon the dead with magical powers. Mesmer used it in his seances. As music changed from small ensambles to large symphonic orchestras in halls the Armonica fell out of favor, relegated to being a museum curiosoity. But in the last twenty years it has found a revival, electronically enchanced, and used in pop music, movies, opera, and chamber music. I was fascinated by this book. Corey covers the rise and fall of the musical glasses, the development of glassmaking, early musical glasses, Franklin's musical background and development of the Armonica, the hey-day of the Glass Armonica, and Mesmer's career and his use of the instrument, including his comissioning an opera from Mozart, the decline and revival of the instrument. When German glassblower Gerhard Finkenbeiner saw a Glass Armonica in a musem in 1960 it was a curiosity. He rediscovered how to create the glass and instrument and the instrument found a revival. Today a few people are experts, including Dennis James whose collaboration with Linda Ronstadt on six CDs revived an interest in the instrument. A a boy he saw Franklin's instruemtent at the Franklin Institute; in music school he asked what it sounded like and his professor answered, "No one knows. It hasn't been played for two hundred years." Now he leads the world's first known glass music studies program at Rutgers University. I received a free ebook from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Eden

    2020 bk 194. If you are a music historian or sophisticate, this book may seem simplistic to you. If however you are interested in inventions, Ben Franklin, music, and life in the 1700 and 1800's, then the writing style will be a side issue. Angelic Music makes you want to rush out and find a Youtube clip of the music. Which I did - I heartily recommend Mr. Rogers Plays the Glass Harmonica https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSK_q.... I am so glad I read this book - It was an introduction to Franklin 2020 bk 194. If you are a music historian or sophisticate, this book may seem simplistic to you. If however you are interested in inventions, Ben Franklin, music, and life in the 1700 and 1800's, then the writing style will be a side issue. Angelic Music makes you want to rush out and find a Youtube clip of the music. Which I did - I heartily recommend Mr. Rogers Plays the Glass Harmonica https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSK_q.... I am so glad I read this book - It was an introduction to Franklin, the Musician and to the beautiful music produced by the Glass Armonica.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Thomas

    Ah, good old Ben Franklin, interesting topic, off the beaten trail. Glass music rules!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Farrah

    This was like the best written doctoral dissertation I've ever read. I know that it ISN'T, but it reads like one; super well-researched and random topic. As someone who wrote her dissertation on the sexual migration patterns of Iranian transsexuals, I know what I'm talking about. On the enlightenment: It brought a new imaginative intensity and excitement send it on a personal commitment to Discovery. Coleridge said that actually. You see something like Mary Shelley's Frankenstein laboring away in This was like the best written doctoral dissertation I've ever read. I know that it ISN'T, but it reads like one; super well-researched and random topic. As someone who wrote her dissertation on the sexual migration patterns of Iranian transsexuals, I know what I'm talking about. On the enlightenment: It brought a new imaginative intensity and excitement send it on a personal commitment to Discovery. Coleridge said that actually. You see something like Mary Shelley's Frankenstein laboring away in pursuit of that Eureka moment or Sir Isaac Newton it was science bound inextricably to Passion a study whose effects could be felt as much in the heart as in the mind

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mandy

    A wonderfully engaging and interesting book about a little known area of musical history – the glass armonica. Invented by Benjamin Franklin, written for by Mozart and Beethoven amongst others, used by Mesmer in his experiments, and creating delight and occasionally fear over the centuries, it’s is now apparently enjoying a revival. The book is as much a cultural history as just about a musical instrument and is wide-ranging in its scope, especially for such a relatively short book. Well-written A wonderfully engaging and interesting book about a little known area of musical history – the glass armonica. Invented by Benjamin Franklin, written for by Mozart and Beethoven amongst others, used by Mesmer in his experiments, and creating delight and occasionally fear over the centuries, it’s is now apparently enjoying a revival. The book is as much a cultural history as just about a musical instrument and is wide-ranging in its scope, especially for such a relatively short book. Well-written and well-researched, I found it thoroughly enjoyable and appreciated learning something new.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Glenn Robinson

    A fun book on the history of the instrument invented by Benjamin Franklin and the few decades of popularity that it had until it faded off until getting some life in recent decades. A book full of stories how the European Royalty loved this instrument and how some musicians became famous for their expertise with this one. The unique sound led to many to call for a ban on the instrument as it caused melancholy, depression and suicide........

  7. 5 out of 5

    David Dunlap

    The story of Benjamin Franklin's invention of the glass armonica -- with bits about the history of glass-making, the development of musical therapy, and the changing fortunes of the instrument thrown in for good measure. Enjoyed the book, but I found the author's writing style less scholarly and more repetitive in places than I might have preferred. The story of Benjamin Franklin's invention of the glass armonica -- with bits about the history of glass-making, the development of musical therapy, and the changing fortunes of the instrument thrown in for good measure. Enjoyed the book, but I found the author's writing style less scholarly and more repetitive in places than I might have preferred.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Spencer Birt

    A delightful read, both interesting and informative. A combination of historical and musical facts woven together and covering a long time span. Interesting material enjoyed for its own sake and perhaps not to be remembered for ever. Sent me in pursuit of finding the armonica and listening to its melodic sound!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Angela

    The title was very misleading. This was more a history of the instrument and how it evolved over the centuries. Franklin was used as a minor character, at best. It was interesting, but definitely not what I was expecting.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    I had never head of the glass Armonica before I saw this book. What can I write about what I liked about the book. I enjoyed reading about the some of the best players who played it long ago and the people who play it today.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia Kristensen

    More Interesting than Antipated Besides learning about the army I and it’s surrounding myths, I learned lots of history. Read it and see if you agree.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Karry

    this is an interesting story of the glass harmonica. It is a short book that is well researched and full of fascinating facts.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Brie

    I won this book in a Goodreads First Reads contest. I passed it on to a music and history loving friend who will really enjoy reading this book.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jim Willse

    Angelic Music by a young English professor at Baruch College, Corey Mead. I’ll let the publisher’s web page do most of the work: Benjamin Franklin’s favorite invention—the one he said gave him the “greatest personal satisfaction”—is unknown to the general public. The glass armonica, the first musical instrument invented by an American, was constructed of stacked glass bowls and played by rubbing one’s fingers on the rims. It was so popular in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries th Angelic Music by a young English professor at Baruch College, Corey Mead. I’ll let the publisher’s web page do most of the work: Benjamin Franklin’s favorite invention—the one he said gave him the “greatest personal satisfaction”—is unknown to the general public. The glass armonica, the first musical instrument invented by an American, was constructed of stacked glass bowls and played by rubbing one’s fingers on the rims. It was so popular in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries that Mozart, Beethoven, Handel, and Strauss composed for it; Marie Antoinette and numerous monarchs played it; Goethe and Thomas Jefferson praised it; Dr. Franz Mesmer used it for his Mesmerism sessions. Franklin played it for Washington and Jefferson. Mead describes how Franklin’s instrument fell out of popular favor, partly due to claims that its haunting sounds could drive musicians out of their minds. Mead has fun with it, but it wasn’t until I found a YouTube clip that I got how the “glass harp” actually worked.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Stef

    This was an easy read on a interesting subject. I knew of the glass armonica, and I believe the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston has a musical glasses set that they play for an audience occassionally. Yet, I didn't really know the history of it, or its association with spiritualism until seeing Mr. Holmes last year. I was looking for some books to read over the winter holidays and picked up Angelic Music by Corey Mead. It is an easy, informative read, full of just enough interesting facts to keep y This was an easy read on a interesting subject. I knew of the glass armonica, and I believe the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston has a musical glasses set that they play for an audience occassionally. Yet, I didn't really know the history of it, or its association with spiritualism until seeing Mr. Holmes last year. I was looking for some books to read over the winter holidays and picked up Angelic Music by Corey Mead. It is an easy, informative read, full of just enough interesting facts to keep you hooked but not so bogged down by fact after fact that reading feels like work. I had to put the book down towards the end and start googling because I had never known that there was an ex-Nazi scientist who moved to my hometown and opened up a glass workshop that makes anatomical models, computer parts, and glass armonicas. Granted an armonica will run you 8,000, but that's still amazing to me. Not exactly what I'd call plane reading because I found the book went by too quickly, but definitely good for a weekend stuck indoors or a short road trip.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Linden

    A fascinating look at what was reputedly Benjamin Franklin’s favorite invention, the glass armonica. Except for one chapter on the history of glass which seems superfluous, the combination of history and music make this an excellent choice for both history buffs and music aficionados.

  17. 5 out of 5

    dale e roberts

  18. 4 out of 5

    Louise Tremblay Cole

  19. 4 out of 5

    SLUBERT

  20. 4 out of 5

    Bridget

  21. 5 out of 5

    Karen

  22. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

  23. 5 out of 5

    Robert Alexander

  24. 4 out of 5

    BonnieYatabeyahoo.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Diane

  26. 4 out of 5

    Julie L

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kyle O'Donnell

  28. 4 out of 5

    Joe Woodring

  29. 4 out of 5

    Steve Peterson

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lynne Chandler

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