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Puccini: His Life and Works (Master Musicians Series) [Paperback]

The late Julian Budden
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

23 Feb 2006 Master Musicians Series
Julian Budden, one of the world's foremost scholars of Italian opera and author of a monumental three-volume study of Verdi's works, now offers music lovers a major new biography of one of the giants of Italian opera, Giacomo Puccini.
Blending astute musical analysis with a colorful account of Puccini's life, here is an illuminating look at some of the most popular operas in the repertoire, including Manon Lescaut, La Boheme, Tosca, Madama Butterfly, and Turandot. Budden provides an illuminating look at the process of putting an opera together, the cut-and-slash of nineteenth-century Italian opera—the struggle to find the right performers for the debut of La Boheme, Puccini's anxiety about completing Turandot (he in fact died of cancer before he did so), his animosity toward his rival Leoncavallo (whom he called Leonasino or "lion-ass"). Budden provides an informative analysis of the operas themselves, examining the music act by act. He highlights, among other things, the influence of Wagner on Puccini—alone among his Italian contemporaries, Puccini followed Wagner's example in bringing the motif into the forefront of his narrative, sometimes voicing the singer's unexpressed thoughts, sometimes sending out a signal to the audience of which the character is unaware. And Budden also paints an intriguing portrait of Puccini the man—talented but modest, a man who had friends from every walk of life: shopkeepers, priests, wealthy landowners, fellow artists. Affable, well mannered, gifted with a broad sense of fun, he rarely failed to charm all who met him.
A new volume in the esteemed Master Musicians series, Puccini offers a masterful portrait of this beloved Italian composer.

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Puccini: His Life and Works (Master Musicians Series) + Puccini without Excuses: A Refreshing Reassessment of the World's Most Popular Composer (Vintage Original)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 538 pages
  • Publisher: OUP USA; New Ed edition (23 Feb 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195179749
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195179743
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.5 x 3.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 651,951 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


A major book on Puccini by the supremely authoritative Julian
Budden arouses the highest expectations, wonderfully fulfilled by this
-- Classical Music, January 20, 2007

About the Author

Julian Budden, formerly the Chief Producer for Opera at BBC Radio, currently serves as the President of the Centro Studi Giacomo Puccini, Lucca, Italy. He is the author of the Master Musicians biography of Verdi as well as the three-volume The Operas of Verdi.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great biography 20 Sep 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
By integrating an analysis of Puccini’s operas into his book, Budden bring Puccini to life in a most unexpected way. I came away convinced that Puccini is one of the 20th century’s greatest composers.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Puccini: Life and works 24 Dec 2012
I just started to read this book, but what I have read gives me the impression that this book is ment for musicoloques.
Nevertheless I am enjoying it very much.
Yours sincerely, Lucas G. Brockhoff.
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent Musical Bio. 31 Mar 2006
By Paul J. Zappa - Published on Amazon.com
Having read nearly all of the books on Puccini, I feel at least competent to evaluate them. The one that moved Puccini to the level of "worth a book" was Mosco Carner's 1959 book, Puccini, a Critical Biography. The information given was fairly accurate for what was known then. The main fault was the continuing"character analyisis" of the composer. In the 60's Wm. Ashbrook wrote a book on the operas. It too is accurate in presenting many new and interesting facts as well as fasitnating interpretations.In addition it is very well written. Since then there have been a number of other books on the composer and his operas. Of the latest two; Budden and Matz, I must choose Budden. Before discussing Budden's merits, I should say that Matz's book is an excellent chronicle of Puccini's life and filled with anecdotes and interesting facts.It is an entertaining read. The basic problem,for me, is it pretty well leaves the music alone. While Puccini's life is certainly interesting, his music is what is most important, at least for me. Budden's book does a fine job of combining Puccini's life and discussing the music. He writes most effectively about the operas. Their creation struggles. Their multipule revisions. The facts are accurate and presented clearly. He writes with a clarity about music that is both refreshing and rare. There is one other book on Puccini I would like to mention and that is a very expensive one [why??] published by Chicago University and written by Michael Girardi. It presents a most original view of the operas but it is not easy to read. It is stimulating. I hope this helps you decide.


Paul Zappa
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST for Puccini Lovers!!! 2 Jun 2008
By Tristan - Published on Amazon.com
Julian Budden has already written an indispensible three volume work on the operas of Verdi. He has now done opera lovers a huge favor by writing about Puccini. Unfortunately Puccini died too young leaving far too few operas , however these are some of the most beloved & often performed works in the repertoire. (Manon Lescaut, La Boheme, Tosca, Madama Butterfly, Turandot to name the most popular.) Budden was able to write about all of Puccini's operas and also about Puccini's life in just one volume. This book is EXCELLENT. Budden is a gifted writer who gives technical information but does not present it in a way that is off-putting to non-music scholars. The book is thoroughly enjoyable and extremely informative. I strongly recommend it to anyone interested in learning more about Puccini, the man, and his music. Anyone who loves Verdi should also not hesitate to purchase the three volume Verdi books.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars well worth the money 10 Jan 2011
By Thomas Robertson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book offers a thorough biography, a thorough plot synopsis of each opera, and a thorough technical analysis.
It is enlightening to read the book while following along with the score of each opera.

In his technical analysis, however, he sometimes misses the forest for the trees. He neglects to tell us that the prelude to Manon Lescaut is in the rondo form, the prelude to Madama Butterfly is in the sonatina form, or that the waltz in Il Tabarro is in the rondo form.

Also, there is one question which the author leaves unanswered: What is the purpose of the mock funeral in Edgar? If you happen to know the answer to this question, please write back.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well researched book for anyone interested in Puccini 12 Oct 2010
By Ron Elguera - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is a must for all Puccini scholars and any Music Composition student. Budden's impressive knowledge covers the musical aspect of the Puccini operas in depth as well as his extensive musical innovations.
Being a great fan of Puccini's operas, I wished to deepen my appreciation of his genius by continuing to read more about him and Julian Budden does not disappoint. The major events of Puccini's life are covered, and the chapters are divided according to the chronological order of his operas. The interesting aspects of the background of each opera has been well researched and discussed in a refreshing manner. The backgrounds are then followed by technical observations of Puccini's innovations demonstrating with examples of his written music. These technical discussions are clearly designed for scholars of music composition and often difficult for the layman to grasp, but Budden has organized each chapter so that the layman may easily skim these technical sections.
Having created a fully illustrated libretto of Madama Butterfly in graphic novel form available exclusively at The Metropolitan Opera Gift Shop and here on Amazon, The Fully Illustrated Libretto of Puccini's Madama Butterfly I found it appropriate to delve more deeply into Puccini's great accomplishments. This book was very helpful to achieve this end and I highly recommend it.
Other fully illustrated librettos include: The Fully Illustrated Libretto of Ravel's L'Enfant et Les Sortileges (Librettos) The Fully Illustrated Libretto of Gian Carlo Menotti's the Medium
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