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Maestros, Masterpieces and Madness: The Secret Life and Shameful Death of the Classical Record Industry Paperback – 26 Jun 2008


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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; First Thus edition (26 Jun. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141028513
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141028514
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 126,876 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'Norman Lebrecht is classical music's chief mischief-maker. As full of bombast as a fairground barker, he will print what most would only hint ... [it is] a lickety-spit history of the industry from wax cylinders to MP3s.' -- Anna Picard, The Independent on Sunday

About the Author

Norman Lebrecht won the Whitbread First Novel Award for 2003 with The Song of Names. Born in London, Norman Lebrecht is Assistant Editor of the Evening Standard and presenter of lebrecht.live on BBC Radio 3. He has written eleven books about music, translated into 15 languages, and is regarded as one of the foremost cultural commentators of our time.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Dr Carl on 26 Aug. 2007
Format: Hardcover
Normal Lebrecht has always been a provocative, well-informed, opinionated and generally stimulating writer. As a long-stending lover of classical music, I found this a very revealing book about the powers behind the classical music recording industry and the reasons for its current demise. Lebrecht is very well informed and cuts straight through all the nonsense, the hype and the dumbing down of the music industry. I very much share his revulsion at the way many young musicians are currently marketed, hyped up, 'managed' and raised sky-high through exaggerated praise only to disappear shortly afterwards, eclipsed by a newer, younger, prettier face. It is also tragic how many honest, gifted and even great performers are silenced, simply because the major recording companies cannot find a way of 'packaging them' in order to sell CDs.

Fortunately, we still have the 'minor' recording companies to thank for venturing into less well-known repertoite, offering honest and unhyped exposure to young musicians and, often, lowering the price at which a music lover can taste and test music that he/she has not known in the past.

Lebrecht's catalogue of 100 of his favourite recordings and 20 the 'should never have been made' is both entertaining and provocative. One can disagree with many of his nominations, but it is interesting to take issue with him. His dismissal and derision of Peter Pears as a Schubert singer verges on the vitriolic - it would have been offensive if one took it out of the context of this book, whose opinionated tone is a pleasure even when one disagrees with it.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Mr Swallow on 21 Sept. 2008
Format: Paperback
Norman Lebrecht is an extremely entertaining writer though somewhat of a rogue, I fear, in that he does tend to use his material to sustain his own highly subjective arguments. In that he can be described in the same breath as documentary film maker Michael Moore. This book sets out to prove Lebrecht's theory that the classical music inductry has been brought to its knees chiefly by the corporate greed of individuals and power-players. Herbert von Karajan is a chief villain of the piece - probably in Lebrecht's eyes he was also responsible for World War 2 as well! Some facts are also questionable - I thought Glenn Gould played Beethoven's op 109 at his US debut not the Hammerklavier. But Lebrecht is never less than entertaining and it's worth reading this for his amusing turns of phrase. But do treat some of the conclusions with a pinch of salt.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J. Wyper on 17 Sept. 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is really a book of two halves. The first half is a narrative describing the rise and fall of Classical music recording as a commercial activity. Lebrecht's prose is a pleasure to read, and he has a gift for phrases that stick in the mind. However, during the latter part of the story especially, events that take place many years apart, or out of sequence, are placed together in the narrative so as to sustain the argument.
The second half describing 100 great and 20 terrible recordings is an entertaining and well-written piece of criticism; for the most part Lebrecht's views won't ruffle the feathers of anyone familiar with Gramophone or the Penguin Guide but it is good to get some background to the recordings as well as some nice anecdotes, for example Jacqueline Du Pre bursting into tears after the first playback of her (famous and enduring) recording of the Elgar concerto and saying "That's not at all what I meant!".
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