Customer Reviews


5 Reviews
5 star:
 (3)
4 star:
 (1)
3 star:    (0)
2 star:
 (1)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Zig-zag: "A cuckoo among composers"
Zig-zag: "A cuckoo among composers".

The cuckoo reference is that of Peter Heyworth, writing in the Observer in 1956; the zig-zag is Walsh's own description of Stravinsky's constant compositional turning in his endeavour to be ever fresh: Writing of the 1960s, Walsh says, "As ever, others wanted his old music, [but] he was interested in the new". And yet,...
Published on 9 Aug 2009 by Nicholas Casley

versus
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Wood and Trees
Nobody would seriously gainsay Walsh's wonderful research credentials.However, I found trouble gaining a cogent sense of the man as the narrative format (on this day he did this, on the next day he did that) truly wearisome. Perhaps this is essentially an organisational issue although I am also perturbed by the writer's stance as (essentially) an apologist.For...
Published on 14 May 2012 by Mr. J. S. Joseph


Most Helpful First | Newest First

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Zig-zag: "A cuckoo among composers", 9 Aug 2009
By 
Nicholas Casley (Plymouth, Devon, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Stravinsky (Volume 2): The Second Exile - France and America, 1934 - 1971 (Paperback)
Zig-zag: "A cuckoo among composers".

The cuckoo reference is that of Peter Heyworth, writing in the Observer in 1956; the zig-zag is Walsh's own description of Stravinsky's constant compositional turning in his endeavour to be ever fresh: Writing of the 1960s, Walsh says, "As ever, others wanted his old music, [but] he was interested in the new". And yet, remarkable as it may now seem, by 1935 one critic could conclude that "the great revolutionary had become an establishment icon."

Walsh begins his second and final volume of Stravinsky's life with an entr-acte, revisiting concisely the story so far of "a house divided". He then dives back in to the life, during its predominantly French phase in the 1930s. Of course, this was a politically sensitive time for all Europeans. No one in the public eye could seemingly not take sides. So what do we make of Stravinsky conducting the Berlin Philharmonic in 1938? Walsh is equivocal: "The question of whether it was or was not ethical to appear to endorse a regime that was openly violating and humiliating Jews like his own daughter's husband seems not have occupied him to any noticeable extent. It was more important that the thousand-mark fee would help pay for that daughter's urgently needed medical treatment."

And so, from France to America, and the composition of his Symphony in Three Movements - Walsh's discussion of this work has forever changed my view of this work: apparently, the clucking of chickens is a leading influence - and then the great (and not so great) revisions that the composer undertook for financial gain. Walsh calls this a myth, but "like all the best myths, a half-truth at the very most."

Walsh covers Stravinsky's life in great detail and with style. To give a flavour of the magnitude of this biography, here are some random notes made by me when reading this second volume. They include Walsh's noting of the parallels with WH Auden in his addiction to clarity and precision; Stravinsky's failure to appreciate the music of Mahler (or `malheur', as he called him); and the composer's disparaging remarks about Shostakovich's eleventh symphony. But whose music is played more today in the concert halls of the world?

The shadow cast by Robert Craft still means that Walsh has to be careful to some degree. Of Craft's Parisian meeting with Souvtchinsky in the 1950s Walsh writes, "Craft's account of the meeting is one of the best half-dozen pages in his published diary." All well and good, but then at the end of the following paragraph, Walsh laments that "In no sense is it a reliable account." And yet, and yet, Walsh knows the value of Craft: "The one thing Craft never seems to have done in Stravinsky's name is write his music, and yet the mere existence of the works of the 1950s and 60s is beyond question his greatest justification." Whilst Walsh may often be critical of Craft's role, he also gives him his due and empathises with the often difficult position in which he was placed.

And so we come to the composer's restless schedule in the last years of his life, an amazingly hectic schedule of travelling, performing, and composing. By never resting on his laurels, his life seems to have been lengthened. The book's final chapter acts like an appendix, as the main players of his life - his second wife, the children of his first, and Craft - battle over his legacy.

This book is a must-read for any serious student of Stravinsky or for anyone who adores his works. I am neither, and yet I enjoyed the book a great deal and feel inspired to savour some of the lesser-known later works of the composer. For Walsh ends his work with a beautiful yet brutally honest and crisp description of the late Stravinsky: "... the unpleasantness is something sharp and invigorating, it grows on you as the taste of beer grows on an adolescent boy ... this music that supposedly expresses nothing, and always seemed studiously, impenetrably deaf to the world around it, has turned out to be the most exact echo and the best response to those terrifying years that brought it into being." But is this of the man as well as his music?

Again, there are some interesting plates provided. A list of Stravinsky's works, endnotes, a bibliography and index bring up the rear.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Wood and Trees, 14 May 2012
By 
Mr. J. S. Joseph (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Nobody would seriously gainsay Walsh's wonderful research credentials.However, I found trouble gaining a cogent sense of the man as the narrative format (on this day he did this, on the next day he did that) truly wearisome. Perhaps this is essentially an organisational issue although I am also perturbed by the writer's stance as (essentially) an apologist.For Stravinsky's personality was in many ways deeply unedifying and the book would have benefited,I feel, from some highlighting of the old man/artist dichotomy;actually,I'm not convinced that such an approach was not a bit of an imperative in this particular case.
I don't doubt that,given the prevailing positivism,I will be inviting some waspish replies;but, I can't help it - this all seems miscalulatedat some quite fundamental level.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars masterfuil, 18 Sep 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
how did i come so late to this? Even better than the first volume. Searing and uncompromising, unafraid to challenge
Stravinsky orthodoxy, (Craft gets it in the nuts, and quite right too) beautifully written , researched immaculately. True scholarship

jeremy sams
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars A triumph, 9 Mar 2012
To have the 700 pages of this outstanding biography in a kindle version is a pleasure. I have read it already in book form, but it was awkward to carry around. Walsh is a superb biographer in that he actually loves his subject and writes about it with warmth and knowledge. Can we now have a kindle version of volume one?
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly gripping and beautifully constructed book tracking the life of the prolific composer ..., 1 Sep 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Stravinsky (Volume 2): The Second Exile - France and America, 1934 - 1971 (Paperback)
Utterly gripping and beautifully constructed book tracking the life of the prolific composer and how his art evolves.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Stravinsky (Volume 2): The Second Exile - France and America, 1934 - 1971
£21.47
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews