Books on Classical Music : Recommending / Considering

Started by Papy Oli, June 03, 2007, 10:13:37 AM

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SimonNZ

Quote from: Mookalafalas on March 03, 2024, 02:06:17 AMNot just a good "music (auto)biography" but a good book, period. Hough can write, and has a distinctive style and voice. This only covers the early part of his life--through music school, so it's sort of a coming of age story.


I got given a copy of his Rough Ideas a couple of days ago. Not sure when I'll get to it. Have you read that one?


Brian

@Mookalafalas curious about two of the conductor memoirs you have read recently and how they handle more "dramatic"/sordid sides of things. Does Schwarz discuss his ejection from Seattle and the bitterness there? And does Brusilow discuss the unceremonious end of the Dallas Symphony on his watch? My understanding is that the orchestra brought him over from Philly as a bright young future star, but the orchestra went into the ground, donations dried up, and half a season was cancelled for lack of cash. The DSO then went into "dark ages" until being rescued by some super rich locals and Eduardo Mata. I'm curious if this is yet another incident where Brusilow says he is the good guy done wrong...

Mookalafalas

Quote from: Brian on March 10, 2024, 11:11:31 AM@Mookalafalas curious about two of the conductor memoirs you have read recently and how they handle more "dramatic"/sordid sides of things. Does Schwarz discuss his ejection from Seattle and the bitterness there? And does Brusilow discuss the unceremonious end of the Dallas Symphony on his watch? My understanding is that the orchestra brought him over from Philly as a bright young future star, but the orchestra went into the ground, donations dried up, and half a season was cancelled for lack of cash. The DSO then went into "dark ages" until being rescued by some super rich locals and Eduardo Mata. I'm curious if this is yet another incident where Brusilow says he is the good guy done wrong...

  Sorry, Brian, I just saw this. It's been a while since I read them...I don't think Schwarz mentioned any unpleasantness in Seattle. The second half of the book is how he built it up from rubble, and got a huge beautiful hall built. He did say his NEW MUSIC choices were sometimes unpopular. I vaguely remember wondering why he was moving on--if it was age or what.  And Brusilow never acknowledged any personal failings, whatsoever. I recall his "creatively" getting popular music recording contracts, to give the orchestra extra money. And he talked a lot about how Ormandy vengefully threatened to have any soloist who played with Dallas blackballed from the classical world, and scared them all away--except for Van Cliburn, who continued to play for him. I think he also talked about a music critic who had it in for him, although that comes up in a lot of the bios, and I could be mixing them up.
 
It's all good...

Cato

Quote from: SonicMan46 on March 09, 2024, 04:05:17 PMHas anyone seen this recent book as a physical copy? Published by Cambridge in the last few years and expensive - listed on Amazon as over 500 pages - MY INTEREST are the illustrations which I cannot determine from Amazon or the Cambridge website - in my mind a book of this type would require a LOT of great pics - can anyone help me decide on a purchase (now $36 paperback on Amazon but if I had $20 credit then a BUY!).  Thanks - Dave






I found this for you: it seems to have at least c. 100 photographs taken by the author "unless otherwise noted" according to the List of Figures:

https://www.google.com/books/edition/A_History_of_Stringed_Keyboard_Instrumen/60pgEAAAQBAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&printsec=frontcover
"Meet Miss Ruth Sherwood, from Columbus, Ohio, the Middle of the Universe!"

- Brian Aherne introducing Rosalind Russell in  My Sister Eileen (1942)

vers la flamme

Got myself a copy of this today:



So far, it's very good–detailed, but also quite to the point. I'm not sure how many Beethoven bios I really need, but I would love to read Jan Swafford's as well.

Still need to get my hands on good bios of Bach, Mozart, and Schubert... if anyone knows of any, I'm open to recommendations.

Mookalafalas

Quote from: SimonNZ on March 09, 2024, 04:59:50 PMI got given a copy of his Rough Ideas a couple of days ago. Not sure when I'll get to it. Have you read that one?


Sorry. I don't come around that often.
   I do have that, and have read the first few chapters. It's fine, but it's more essays, without a unfiying theme to pull it together and inspire one to keep reading (like the bio). What I read had a sort of negative vibe--"What's wrong with classical music (and it's fans) these days," which does't exactly pull you in and make you want to keep reading like the bio does. However, the writing is strong, and his examples are interesting, as I recall.
It's all good...

Brian

Quote from: Mookalafalas on May 16, 2024, 02:10:02 AMSorry, Brian, I just saw this. It's been a while since I read them...I don't think Schwarz mentioned any unpleasantness in Seattle. The second half of the book is how he built it up from rubble, and got a huge beautiful hall built. He did say his NEW MUSIC choices were sometimes unpopular. I vaguely remember wondering why he was moving on--if it was age or what.  And Brusilow never acknowledged any personal failings, whatsoever. I recall his "creatively" getting popular music recording contracts, to give the orchestra extra money. And he talked a lot about how Ormandy vengefully threatened to have any soloist who played with Dallas blackballed from the classical world, and scared them all away--except for Van Cliburn, who continued to play for him. I think he also talked about a music critic who had it in for him, although that comes up in a lot of the bios, and I could be mixing them up.
 
Thanks so much for the recommendation. My copy just arrived in the mail today! I started flipping through. There is definitely a music critic in for him, which is funny, because I've posted elsewhere about how that exact music critic's successor here is also an unusual figure...he believes everyone plays too loud, and reviews negatively any performance that exceeds his loudness rules  ;D

Looking forward to reading the whole book. The Ormandy parts look...fiercely honest.

Brian

Quote from: Mookalafalas on May 16, 2024, 02:10:02 AMSorry, Brian, I just saw this. It's been a while since I read them...I don't think Schwarz mentioned any unpleasantness in Seattle. The second half of the book is how he built it up from rubble, and got a huge beautiful hall built. He did say his NEW MUSIC choices were sometimes unpopular. I vaguely remember wondering why he was moving on--if it was age or what.  And Brusilow never acknowledged any personal failings, whatsoever. I recall his "creatively" getting popular music recording contracts, to give the orchestra extra money. And he talked a lot about how Ormandy vengefully threatened to have any soloist who played with Dallas blackballed from the classical world, and scared them all away--except for Van Cliburn, who continued to play for him. I think he also talked about a music critic who had it in for him, although that comes up in a lot of the bios, and I could be mixing them up.

We're having the slowest conversation in GMG history.  ;D I'm reading the book now, enjoying it thoroughly. I'm still in the Szell years, wondering about the "Nazi collaborator violinist" who plays a solo with the orchestra on tour in Vienna in 1957. Google has been absolutely no help trying to find old concert programs from that tour. Wonder who the violinist was...

Mookalafalas

Quote from: Brian on June 22, 2024, 11:03:21 AMWe're having the slowest conversation in GMG history.  ;D I'm reading the book now, enjoying it thoroughly. I'm still in the Szell years, wondering about the "Nazi collaborator violinist" who plays a solo with the orchestra on tour in Vienna in 1957. Google has been absolutely no help trying to find old concert programs from that tour. Wonder who the violinist was...

   I wonder about his whole story about how Monteax turned from sweet, family-man mentor to "trying to destroy his career" all because Brusilow got married? That sounded like a LOT of key material was being left out. Tons of great anecdotes, though. His tell-all style is really refreshing compared to how timid and circumspect most of these books are with criticism of famous figures. The authors seem terrified of alienating anybody. I suppose because it's such a small, intertwined world...
It's all good...

Jo498

Quote from: Brian on June 22, 2024, 11:03:21 AMWe're having the slowest conversation in GMG history.  ;D I'm reading the book now, enjoying it thoroughly. I'm still in the Szell years, wondering about the "Nazi collaborator violinist" who plays a solo with the orchestra on tour in Vienna in 1957. Google has been absolutely no help trying to find old concert programs from that tour. Wonder who the violinist was...
Without being too cynical, "Nazi collaborators" were probably a dime a dozen in 1950s Austria. It was hardly a special distinction and although of course there was a broad range from ardent Nazis to mere opportunists, this had been faded sufficiently in the late 1950s that most people would not dwell on it.
Tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos, dans une chambre.
- Blaise Pascal

Brian

Quote from: Jo498 on June 22, 2024, 11:48:35 PMWithout being too cynical, "Nazi collaborators" were probably a dime a dozen in 1950s Austria. It was hardly a special distinction and although of course there was a broad range from ardent Nazis to mere opportunists, this had been faded sufficiently in the late 1950s that most people would not dwell on it.
This makes sense, thanks.

Quote from: Mookalafalas on June 22, 2024, 06:58:32 PMI wonder about his whole story about how Monteax turned from sweet, family-man mentor to "trying to destroy his career" all because Brusilow got married? That sounded like a LOT of key material was being left out. Tons of great anecdotes, though. His tell-all style is really refreshing compared to how timid and circumspect most of these books are with criticism of famous figures. The authors seem terrified of alienating anybody. I suppose because it's such a small, intertwined world...
There are a LOT of cases throughout the book where Brusilow seems like an unreliable narrator, or so proud of himself and pleased with himself that you can't help wondering what the truth is. Like how he, personally, ruined the friendship of Szell and Ormandy. And, yes, how he got Monteux to abandon all professionalism. And his consistent habit of violating the terms of his own contracts, then being surprised when his bosses get annoyed with him. The funniest one to me was when he has his touring chamber orchestra and thinks his brother is the most amazing, imaginative clarinetist, but it becomes clear that everybody else in the orchestra hates his brother's clarinet playing.  ;D It was a very entertaining read overall, and I do feel like I learned a lot about a generation of great conductors. Actually I read all but 5 pages in a single day (yesterday) because he's so chatty and friendly you can't resist his company. But it does rather leave me feeling he should have stuck to concertmastering...

Mookalafalas

Quote from: Brian on June 23, 2024, 06:27:40 AMThis makes sense, thanks.
There are a LOT of cases throughout the book where Brusilow seems like an unreliable narrator, or so proud of himself and pleased with himself that you can't help wondering what the truth is. Like how he, personally, ruined the friendship of Szell and Ormandy. And, yes, how he got Monteux to abandon all professionalism. And his consistent habit of violating the terms of his own contracts, then being surprised when his bosses get annoyed with him. The funniest one to me was when he has his touring chamber orchestra and thinks his brother is the most amazing, imaginative clarinetist, but it becomes clear that everybody else in the orchestra hates his brother's clarinet playing.  ;D It was a very entertaining read overall, and I do feel like I learned a lot about a generation of great conductors. Actually I read all but 5 pages in a single day (yesterday) because he's so chatty and friendly you can't resist his company. But it does rather leave me feeling he should have stuck to concertmastering...
You definitely have to take him with a grain of salt. But even so, I love his Szell stories. The previous stuff I've read about Szell, even interviews with some musicians, seemed to be a whitewash. Brusilow's anecdotes about his rages are a nice counterbalance.
   His story about the violin really bothered me, though. To me, the whole way he received it had a deeply embedded "Pay it forward" set of expectations. The way he just sold it so he and his wife could enjoy the cash seemed really crass--and revealing. 
It's all good...

Dry Brett Kavanaugh

^ His description of the encounter with Karajan was interesting.  Pretty resentful about the man he considered as a Nazi sympathizer.

Dry Brett Kavanaugh

Have any of you read "Moscow Nights"?  Fun read?





Daverz

#195
Quote from: ritter on July 02, 2024, 03:11:34 PMShe was a pianist, AFAIK.

A Nazi and she couldn't even play the violin!

Bustabo, perhaps?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guila_Bustabo

Though that's more a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time rather than what I'd call collaboration.