A tortured genius, a sensitive soul, and a great composer burdened by the weight of his private desires, Tchaikovsky's life is explored in full by the incomparable John Suchet.Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky is one of the most successful composers that Russia has ever produced, but his path to success was not an easy one. A shy, emotional child, intended for the civil service by his father, Tchaikovsky came late to composing as a career, and despite his success he was a troubled character. Doubting himself at every turn, he was keenly wounded by criticism. The death of his mother haunted him all his life and his incessant attempts to suppress his homosexuality took a huge toll. From Tchaikovsky's disastrous marriage to his extraordinary relationship with his female patron, his many amorous liaisons, and his devotion to friends and family, Suchet shows us how the complexity of Tchaikovsky's emotional life plays out in his music. A man who was by turns quick to laugh and to despair, his mercurial temperament found its outlet in some of the most emotionally intense music ever written.
It may be difficult to imagine today, but Arturo Toscanini--recognized widely as the most celebrated conductor of the twentieth century--was once one of the most famous people in the world. Like Einstein in science or Picasso in art, Toscanini (1867-1957) transcended his own field, becoming a figure of such renown that it was often impossible not to see some mention of the maestro in the daily headlines.
Acclaimed music historian Harvey Sachs has long been fascinated with Toscanini's extraordinary story. Drawn not only to his illustrious sixty-eight-year career but also to his countless expressions of political courage in an age of tyrants, and to a private existence torn between love of family and erotic restlessness, Sachs produced a biography of Toscanini in 1978. Yet as archives continued to open and Sachs was able to interview an ever-expanding list of relatives and associates, he came to realize that this remarkable life demanded a completely new work, and the result is Toscanini--an utterly absorbing story of a man who was incapable of separating his spectacular career from the call of his conscience.
Famed for his fierce dedication but also for his explosive temper, Toscanini conducted the world premieres of many Italian operas, including Pagliacci, La Boheme, and Turandot, as well as the Italian premieres of works by Wagner, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, and Debussy. In time, as Sachs chronicles, he would dominate not only La Scala in his native Italy but also the Metropolitan Opera, the New York Philharmonic, and the NBC Symphony Orchestra. He also collaborated with dozens of star singers, among them Enrico Caruso and Feodor Chaliapin, as well as the great sopranos Rosina Storchio, Geraldine Farrar, and Lotte Lehmann, with whom he had affairs.
While this consuming passion constantly blurred the distinction between professional and personal, it did forge within him a steadfast opposition to totalitarianism and a personal bravery that would make him a model for artists of conscience. As early as 1922, Toscanini refused to allow his La Scala orchestra to play the Fascist anthem, Giovinezza, even when threatened by Mussolini's goons. And when tens of thousands of desperate Jewish refugees poured into Palestine in the late 1930s, he journeyed there at his own expense to establish an orchestra comprised of refugee musicians, and his travels were followed like that of a king.
Thanks to unprecedented access to family archives, Toscanini becomes not only the definitive biography of the conductor, but a work that soars in its exploration of musical genius and moral conscience, taking its place among the great musical biographies of our time.
"Brilliant....This book is a perfect marriage--or should one say, duet--of subject and author, every word as masterly as the notes of the artist it illuminates." -- Christopher Buckley, Forbes
"This is not just criticism but poetry in itself, with the additional--and inestimable--merit of being true." -- Washington Post Book World
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Edmund Morris (The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, Theodore Rex, Dutch) is one of America's most distinguished biographers, known for his rich, compulsively readable prose style. His biography of Beethoven, one of the most admired composers in the history of music, is above all a study of genius in action, of one of the few giants of Western culture. Beethoven is another engaging entry in the HarperCollins' "Eminent Lives" series of biographies by distinguished authors on canonical figures.
Chopin's Piano traces the history of Frédéric Chopin's twenty-four Preludes through the instruments on which they were played, the pianists who interpreted them, and the traditions they came to represent. Yet it begins and ends with Chopin's Mallorquin pianino, which the great keyboard player Wanda Landowska rescued from an abandoned monastery at Valldemossa in 1913--and which assumed an astonishing cultural potency during the Second World War as it became, for the Nazis, a symbol of the man and music they were determined to appropriate as their own. In scintillating prose, and with an eye for exquisite detail, Paul Kildea beautifully interweaves these narratives, which comprise a journey through musical Romanticism--one that illuminates how art is transmitted, interpreted, and appropriated over the ages.
The premier of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony in Vienna on May 7, 1824, was the most significant artistic event of the year--and the work remains one of the most precedent-shattering and influential compositions in the history of music. Described in vibrant detail by eminent musicologist Harvey Sachs, this symbol of freedom and joy was so unorthodox that it amazed and confused listeners at its unveiling--yet it became a standard for subsequent generations of creative artists, and its composer came to embody the Romantic cult of genius. In this unconventional, provocative book, Beethoven's masterwork becomes a prism through which we may view the politics, aesthetics, and overall climate of the era. Part biography, part history, part memoir, The Ninth brilliantly explores the intricacies of Beethoven's last symphony--how it brought forth the power of the individual while celebrating the collective spirit of humanity.
Compiled in cooperation with the Antonin Dvorak Society of Prague, Czechoslovakia, to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the composer's birth, this is the first book-length discography on Dvorak. It updates the discography appended to Jarmil Burghauser's Antonin Dvorak Thematic Catalogue (1960). Burghauser, President of the Dvorak Society, explains in a foreword to the present work that, due to the immense proliferation of Dvorak recordings, it was decided not to include a discography in the revised edition of the Thematic Catalogue. Organized similarly to the Catalogue by genres and works, Antonin Dvorak on Records may be used in conjunction with it and, further, will be valuable to musicians, students, collectors, and others primarily interested in the recordings.
The discography selects from the many thousands of Dvorak recordings those of excellence and historic significance on LP and CD formats, representing the diversity of the oeuvre. The volume introduction surveys the recording history before the LP revolution. Indexes provide access to the recordings by works and by performers and performing groups.
A master of mystery and paradox, Wagner spent his life composing himself while composing music. Written between 1864 and 1878, the essays in Art and Politics converge upon Wagner's desire to define and reform German culture. He was deeply annoyed that Germany seemed to satisfy itself with cheap theater, vulgar songs, and clumsy imitations of French art. In "What Is German?" he declared that German culture must rise above the common ruck. Citing "Music's wonderman" Johann Sebastian Bach as his precursor, Wagner fought to persuade his readers that German culture had a historic destiny, and that destiny was shaped first and foremost by music. As usual, embroiled in the defense of his operas and his person, Wagner recognized that his rescue from attack and poverty could not be expected from "Franco-Judaico-German democracy." He instead fixed his hopes elsewhere: "the embodied voucher" for fundamental law, the Monarch. He found himself at a turning point in his career. In 1864 King Ludwig II of Bavaria befriended Wagner and gave him badly needed financial support. This alliance aroused Wagner's enemies into further fits of jealousy. Yet, amid the public scorn, he worked on the production of Tristan und Isolde, drafted the libretto for Parsifal, and composed sections of Siegfried and Die Meistersinger. In these essays Wagner resumes his considerations of the close ties between religion and art. He calls art "the kindly Life-saviour who does not really and wholly lead us out beyond this life, but, within it, lifts us up above it and shews it as itself a game of play." These essays express his artistic credo and the knowledge of German literature that underpinned his claims for German genius. Following his ideals, he proclaimed his intention to raise the quality of German opera, by himself if necessary. This edition includes the full text of volume 4 of the translation of Wagner's works commissioned in 1895 by the London Wagner Society.
Poor, frustrated, and angered by the "fashion-mongers and mode-purveyors" of art, Richard Wagner published The Art-Work of the Future in 1849. It marked a turning point in his life: an appraisal of the revolutionary passions of mid-century Europe, his farewell to symphonic music, and his vision of the music to come. Beethoven's Ninth Symphony was unsurpassable, he wrote. Henceforth The Folk must of necessity be the Artist of the Future, and only artists who were in harmony with the Folk could know what harmony was for. The essay became a touchstone for Wagner, his family, friends, and followers, as he sought to produce works that thoroughly combined music, dance, drama, and national saga. In addition to Wagner's epoch-defining essay, this volume includes his Autobiographical Sketch, Art and Climate; his libretto for an opera, Wieland the Smith; and his notorious Art and Revolution. The concluding piece, A Communication to My Friends (1851), explains his views on his first successes--The Flying Dutchman, Lohengrin, and Tannh user--and defines his agenda for later works. As spokesman for the future, Wagner spoke most of himself. In these works he set forth his ambitions, identified his enemies, and began a campaign for public attention that made him a legend in his own time and in ours.
Arthur Foote (1853-1937) was one of the most important American composers who worked creatively in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His musical style was at first Germanic in orientation, soon changing to include Anglo-Americanisms and modifications derived from French and Russian composers. His compositions were highly esteemed by his contemporaries. Moreover, today's listeners continue to be struck by the coherency of his music, both in its general form and in its details. They note a command of craft, an integration of tone with desired expression, and an honest straightforward sound that brooks no pretentious complexities or enigmas of meaning. In addition, he was admired as an educator, musical theorist, keyboard performer, and choral music director. His books and articles on keyboard pedagogy and those containing his insightful contemplation of aspects of modulation and third-relationships in musical structures are still of great value. Assiduous as he was in preserving various aspects of his public life in his several scrapbooks, Foote strove to keep his private life out of the public eye. He discouraged the publication of his more personal letters, and late in life even desired their destruction. This book attempts to gather all the available information in order to give information about the man, his life, and his thinking. Lastly, it looks into the music, what it is, why and where it was written, and what its significance is. With bibliography and musical examples.