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Orchestra: The LSO: A Century of Triumphs and Turbulence: The LSO - A Century of Triumphs and Turbulance [Hardcover]

Richard Morrison
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

11 Dec 2003
In 2004 the London Symphony Orchestra celebrates its hundredth birthday. The centenary finds the orchestra acclaimed as one of the best in the world, making music with the most charismatic conductors and soloists on the planet. But it is also a volatile ensemble of highly talented players facing enormous pressures each day - the constant scramble for audiences, subsidy and sponsors in the most ruthlessly competitive musical capital in the world, and the struggle to maintain a family life in a business demanding unsociable hours and long periods away from home. Leading columnist Richard Morrison looks at both sides of the coin: the dazzling public face of the LSO, the personal stories - heroic, hilarious and touching - of the players, and explores what makes this great orchestra tick. He looks at the bad times as well as the good, including the disastrous early years at the Barbican, the notorious playboy era of the 1970s and the remarkable transformation over the past 20 years into one of the most successful and ambitious arts organisations that Britain has ever produced.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Faber and Faber; 1st.ed. edition (11 Dec 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571215831
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571215836
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 2.8 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 794,106 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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From the Inside Flap

In 2004 the London Symphony Orchestra celebrates its hundredth birthday. The centenary finds the orchestra acclaimed as one of the best in the world, making music with the most charismatic conductors and soloists on the planet. But it is also a volatile ensemble of highly talented players facing enormous pressures each day - the constant scramble for audiences, subsidy and sponsors in the most ruthlessly competitive musical capital in the world, and the struggle to maintain a family life in a business demanding unsociable hours and long periods away from home.

Leading columnist Richard Morrison looks at both sides of the coin: the dazzling public face of the LSO, the personal stories - heroic, hilarious and touching - of the players, and explores what makes this great orchestra tick. He looks at the bad times as well as the good, including the disastrous early years at the Barbican, the notorious playboy era of the 1970s and the remarkable transformation over the past 20 years into one of the most successful and ambitious arts organisations that Britain has ever produced.

About the Author

Richard Morrison is chief music critic of The Times and writes a wide-ranging weekly column on cultural and social matters, which is noted for its humour and passion. From 1989 to 1999 he also edited the paper's arts pages. He is a music graduate of Cambridge University and former orchestral trombonist and organist.He was taken to his first London Symphony Orchestra concert in 1960, aged five, and wrote his first professional review of the orchestra 16 years later. Since then he has heard the orchestra perform under most of the world's top conductors.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Many triumphs, much turbulence 13 July 2010
Format:Hardcover
Rebellion, Elgar, war, disaster, rebirth, Previn, women, the Barbican, an uncertain future: this book certainly changed my ideas about the world of the classical orchestra. Previously, i think i'd simply taken the serene, refined, rather quaint, image of men and women in evening dress at face value.

But this book about the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) by journalist Richard Morrison tells a very different story. The orchestra begins life in the first decade of the 20th Century as a players' rebellion against executive control and one of the themes for most of the book is the problem of imposing discipline on musicians who, poorly paid and insecurely employed as they may be, rarely lack self-belief or opinions. They are shown plotting against conductors, drinking themselves comatose and indulging in schoolboy humour (admittedly, not all at the same time).

Another theme of the book is the conflict between an orchestra's desire to break new ground and achieve higher standards and its need to pay its bills and get the punters - whose tastes rarely stretch much further than the end of the 19th Century - through the door. The LSO is shown championing and then abandoning the 20th Century British composer Elgar for example. And later there are forays into the works of contemporary composers such as Boulez and Adès with varying degrees of success - or rather, varying degrees of commercial success; artistically these explorations of new music have mostly been very successful. All the time conductors come and go, each with his own strengths, weaknesses and interests. Describing the impact of each is one of the book's big strengths.

The questions of why it is so hard to interest people in new classical music and why it is so hard to get 'new people', i.e.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More than LSO 2 April 2009
By Presbyteros - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
More than a history of the London Symphony Orchestra, this book gives a great overview of London musical life through the 20th Century into the 21st. Why does London have five orchestras? You'll find out in this detailed history of the institutions, personalities, and politics of the British orchestral scene. Punctuated by insightful quotes from witnesses and participants, we see how some of the history of the LSO may be viewed differently by those who were there, depanding on where they were standing. If you enjoy "The Cleveland Orchestra: Second to None" or "Season With Solti", you will enjoy this story of another musical culture, similar, but so different.
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