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Gerald Finzi: His Life and Music Paperback – 11 Dec 2013


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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Boydell Press; Reprint edition (11 Dec 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1843836025
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843836025
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 1.8 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 228,075 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

(T)he author's style is very easy indeed, informal and communicative. RALPH VAUGHAN WILLIAMS SOCIETY JOURNALThe book is very well researched and immensely informative. (...) From reading this particular biography, there is also the wish to read more by Diana McVeagh. THE ELGAR SOCIETY JOURNAL McVeagh's analyses unfailingly draw the reader's attention to the melodic and harmonic subtleties of Finzi's writing. At her best, as in a beautiful passage on Finzi and Hardy, she sings with a lyricism that matches Finzi's own. This book comes as a timely reminder that there should be a place for the finely wrought music of a minor master. TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT (Richard Lawrence)This has been long in preparation, but the wait has been worthwhile. Lucky the composer who finds so fair-minded, candid and scrupulous a biographer and one who writes so well...(McVeagh's) analyses achieve the rare distinction of being both illuminating and readable. This is one of the best-written books about a musician to appear for many years. BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE (Michael Kennedy) McVeagh surely loves Finzi's music and it shows. However her devotion is clear-eyed and her writing completely avoids the sort of pastoral hagiography that Finzi scholarship can easily collapse into. The book is self-recommending but that does not stop me recommending it. - CLASSICAL MUSIC ON THE WEB (This) is unquestionably destined to be the standard biography of Gerald Finzi. - RALPH VAUGHAN WILLIAMS SOCIETY JOURNAL (Rolf Jordan) (Now) we have McVeagh at last, so good and so well written that those who already possess...other books must have it, not only to complement them but for the sheer pleasure afforded by such a winning combination of scholarship, insight and clear-eyed humanity.. their belief will be reinforced and intensified by Miss McVeagh's candour and her remarkable achievement in writing not only a good biography but in re-creating the atmosphere of English musical life in the half-century of Finzi's life. FINZI NEWSLETTERWith clear-eyed affection for her subject, McVeagh relates Finzi's poignant history with clarity of design that does not preclude empathy, and never allows herself the luxury of letting him off lightly over either musical or personal foibles...(a) lovely, warm and elegiac book. MUSIC & LETTERS (Byron Adams)

From the Publisher

In the Times Literary Supplement Richard Lawrence wrote 'At her best, as in a beautiful passage on Finzi and Hardy, [Diana McVeagh] sings with a lyricism that matches Finzi's own...This book comes as a timely reminder that there should be a place for the finely wrought music of a minor master.' --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dr. H. A. Jones TOP 500 REVIEWER on 21 Feb 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Gerald Finzi by Diana McVeagh, Boydell Press, Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK, 2005, 318 ff

This thoroughly researched and well written book provides all the information about this English composer that any reader would be likely to require. McVeagh already has a highly praised biography of Edward Elgar to her credit. Finzi taught composition at the Royal Academy of Music in London from 1930 to 1933, but in 1933 he married Joy Black and the couple retired to the countryside around Newbury to grow varieties of apples - some 350 of them when the orchards were at their peak. Finzi was born in London, the last of five children. Although nominally retired from 1933 when he was only 32, some of his best known compositions were still to come - the concertos for clarinet (1949), for piano (1953) and for cello (1955); and the wonderful setting of Wordsworth's `Intimations of Immortality' (1938 & 1950). The settings of poet Thomas Hardy span a number of years (1928-1936), and these also rate amongst his best loved compositions. McVeagh's biography gives us the background to these works and is laid out chronologically up to his early death at the age of only 55. There is a catalogue of his works, details of the repertoire of the Newbury String Players that Finzi and his wife Joy inaugurated in 1940; a quite detailed Bibliography of other books about the composer; and an Index.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dr. R. G. Bullock on 28 April 2014
Format: Paperback
Gerald Finzi is an important English composer, particularly of song. A late developer, his range is somewhat limited compared to some of his contemporaries but at the end of his life wrote the cello concerto, a big work of symphonic breadth. So the arc of his development was cut short and who knows what he may have created given another fifteen years of more of life. Although of Jewish origin, he was not religious and wrote a number of works with Christian themes.

Diana McVeagh describes the emotional bleakness of Finzi's early life: he seems to have had little time for his parents or his siblings, though by the end of the First World War he was the only survivor apart from his mother, someone he appeared to tolerate rather than love. The tendency to judge others who were not artistic is a notable characteristic of the young man, though after marriage, he mellowed considerably. He did not have a school education and even when he began to study music seriously, he studied privately with Ernest Farrar, whom he idolised, and later Herbert Sumsion, organist at Gloucester Cathedral. Farrar was killed during the war and this affected the young Finzi deeply. Sumsion was to remain a life-long friend of the Finzi family.

Finzi started to produce serious work in the late 1920s, the best known composition being By Footpath and Stile, a cycle of six songs. Around this time he met Howard Ferguson, yet another young composer and they also remained friends for life. In these early years, Finzi avoided academic and city life as far as possible, preferring to life in the country. While staying at a cottage, he met his future wife, Joy Black. Joy kept a journal during their marriage and McVeagh makes considerable use of this to guide us through the rest of their life together.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Well written, comprehensive biography, which helps humanize this interesting composer little known outside the UK. Useful for musicians (singers & piano accompanists)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Graceful work captures composer's heart and mind 15 Dec 2009
By Rand McNally - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This is a detailed, chronological account of Finzi. Important episodes in his life are punctuated by discrete sections that provide analysis of concurrent musical works. Finzi is shown as a man who loved poetry and music (he had significant collections of each) and whose entire life was devoted to what he felt was his role as an artist in modern society. He comes off as a bit cold and critical, dismissive of those who didn't evince creativity, but endlessly giving of time and attention to his fellow musicians, especially composers. As a reader who knew very little about the world of music in mid-20th-century England, I rather enjoyed being plunged into the company of those who lived for discussion, ideas, and performance. Yet Finzi's world, his rural cottage life, and his devotion to works of long-dead artists seem utterly disconnected from the world of popular culture around him. After all, this was the ago of Big Bands and Jazz. But it appears that nothing in the popular taste had an impact on Finzi and his coterie. In fact, very little in the "outside" world seems to matter, except of course World War II, which found Finzi clerking in London and not terribly productive musically. The author pauses now and again to offer a discourse into Finzi's way of approaching work, and his attitudes toward art. The portraits of his companions, and especially his wife, Joy, suggest what was likable about Finzi and never intrude greatly on the narrative. Musicologists will appreciate the extended musical analyses. Much of this was over my head, so I read and skipped along in these parts and didn't worry so much about whether I fully underestood them. I was after a portrait of the man and his times, and while I can't say Finzi led a dramatic life, his life is certainly one of intense dedication and integrity with regard to his work, and in that sense has much to recommend it. The long labors of the author are obvious in this at times fascinating account.
The life and music of English composer Gerald Finzi 21 Feb 2013
By Dr. H. A. Jones - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Gerald Finzi by Diana McVeagh, Boydell Press, Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK, 2005, 318 ff

This thoroughly researched and well written book provides all the information about this English composer that any reader would be likely to require. McVeagh already has a highly praised biography of Edward Elgar to her credit. Finzi taught composition at the Royal Academy of Music in London from 1930 to 1933, but in 1933 he married Joy Black and the couple retired to the countryside around Newbury to grow varieties of apples - some 350 of them when the orchards were at their peak. Finzi was born in London, the last of five children. Although nominally retired from 1933 when he was only 32, some of his best known compositions were still to come - the concertos for clarinet (1949), for piano (1953) and for cello (1955); and the wonderful setting of Wordsworth's `Intimations of Immortality' (1938 & 1950). The settings of poet Thomas Hardy span a number of years (1928-1936), and these also rate amongst his best loved compositions. McVeagh's biography gives us the background to these works and is laid out chronologically up to his early death at the age of only 55. There is a catalogue of his works, details of the repertoire of the Newbury String Players that Finzi and his wife Joy inaugurated in 1940; a quite detailed Bibliography of other books about the composer; and an Index.

Finzi: Clarinet Concerto
Finzi: Intimations of Immortality; For St. Cecilia
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Good information useful to Music community 21 Oct 2011
By F. Norman Belk - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This "Life and Music" title is a good addition to any Music Library. There is a need to understand Gerald Finzi's contribution to this period in musical growth.
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