Charles Rosen, pianist and author, dies at 85

Charles Rosen, right, with composer Elliott Carter in New York in 2004. Rosen died on Sunday at 85.
(David S. Holloway / AFP/Getty Images)

Charles Rosen, a pianist who collaborated with some the 20th century’s greatest composers and whose award-winning book “The Classical Style” was widely read around the world, died on Sunday in New York. He was 85 and had been battling cancer.

During his career, Rosen balanced concert performances with writing. His erudite journalism included many essays for the New York Review of Books. He won the National Book Award in 1972 for “The Classical Style,” his intellectual history of music by Haydn, Beethoven and Mozart.

Read the full Times obituary on Charles Rosen


His other books include “Music and Sentiment”; “Sonata Forms”; “Romanticism and Realism,” written with Henri Zerner; and “Freedom and the Arts,” which was published in May.

Rosen had a close professional relationship with Elliott Carter, the contemporary composer who died in November. He also worked with Milton Babbitt, who died in 2011, and several other prominent composers.

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A lifelong New Yorker, Rosen became something of a fixture at the 92nd Street Y, where he gave lectures and recitals. He made occasional stops in Southern California, most recently in 2010, when he gave a lecture and recital of music by Chopin at the Irvine Barclay Theatre.


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