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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating and enjoyable book!
I was prompted to read this book by a good friend. I'll start by saying that I'm not a great reader of books, not least biographies, but this book by Michael Ainger may have changed that - I found it a fascinating and compelling read. I will register an interest though, as Gilbert and Sullivan does hold many fond memories for me both watching their shows as a young child...
Published on 22 July 2011 by TC

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3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
rather heavy going .Too much detail.
Published 8 months ago by R.J.Haynes


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating and enjoyable book!, 22 July 2011
This review is from: Gilbert and Sullivan: A Dual Biography (Paperback)
I was prompted to read this book by a good friend. I'll start by saying that I'm not a great reader of books, not least biographies, but this book by Michael Ainger may have changed that - I found it a fascinating and compelling read. I will register an interest though, as Gilbert and Sullivan does hold many fond memories for me both watching their shows as a young child and, more recently, accompanying them as a member of the orchestra.

The book appeals in a number of ways and at a number of levels. It provides an insight into the work of the two men and how they wrote and composed their operas together; such as the organisation of Gilbert and the last minute cramming of Sullivan! I found it fascinating to learn about such things as how the music required the words to be changed, how Sullivan would often sketch out the overtures leaving it to someone else to complete the composition and how music was sometimes recycled in order to meet difficult timescales...and much more. The book also recounts what was going on in their personal lives, from letters and diaries, giving a real insight into the personalities of both of the men.

But this book wouldn't have had the same impact if it were just an account of the lives and works of Gilbert and Sullivan. It seems to me that Michael Ainger has, through his research, come to understand the characters so well, which enables him to carry out some 'detective work' and speculate in areas where there is no definitive documentary evidence. He starts the book by describing the backgrounds of each of the men in order to help the reader understand what they become and how they behave during their lives. The book also displays the author's passion for the subject and often seems to convey a touching affection for his two main characters. When Sullivan dies I personally felt a deep sadness as, from reading this book, I feel that I had gained an almost intimate understanding of the man and the difficulties and disappointments of his final years. Gilbert is a more difficult character to like, but both characters are treated even handedly and sympathetically by the author. There are also moments of humour (I liked "If [Oscar] Wilde had not already said something similar, he soon would" - I wished I'd said that ;-).

Well I've finished the book now, and I can genuinely say that I will miss having it to read - something I never imagined I would say about a biography! You don't need to have more than a passing interest in Gilbert and Sullivan to appreciate this hugely enjoyable book. I recommend it thoroughly!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars, 7 Aug. 2014
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rather heavy going .Too much detail.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much appreciated, 12 May 2012
This review is from: Gilbert and Sullivan: A Dual Biography (Paperback)
This item was a gift that I made to the Musical Director of HMS Pinafore- an operetta that I recently directed in Switzerland. It was much appreciated giving insight to the immense impact that both Gilbert and Sullivan had imposed on their era of writing.
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Gilbert and Sullivan: A Dual Biography
Gilbert and Sullivan: A Dual Biography by Michael Ainger (Paperback - 1 Feb. 2009)
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