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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How an orchestra really works, 25 May 2013
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This review is from: The Show Must Go On: On Tour with the LSO in 1912 and 2012 (Hardcover)
Gareth Davies is Principal Flute of the London Symphony Orchestra and also author of a much-followed blog about the LSO on tour. This book intersperses some of his blog from 2012 with chapters describing the LSO's first foreign tour, to the United States in 1912, based on diaries written by two of the members of the orchestra and also Mr Davies's own research.
The result is something of a gem. For a start, Mr Davies writes marvellously, with an irreverent sense of humour. His description of one famous Russian pianist is characteristic: "dressed all in black, with very short white hair, looking not dissimilar to a pint of Guinness". At the other end of the scale is his deeply moving reaction to the news of the death of his colleague Kieron Moore, in the context of the oboe solo in the Brahms Violin Concerto. The frantic life of a musician on tour is well captured - in 1912 the players spent six weeks sleeping mainly in trains to save the promoter money; in 2012 the biggest problems are jet lag and transport delays due to weather.
But most remarkable is Mr Davies's ability to describe exactly how the greatest conductors get their results. Many journalists and amateurs have tried to do this, and failed. As a top-class performing musician, working with the same team and different conductors from day to day, Mr Davies can readily hear the differences in sound, but he also has the skills to show how those differences arise from what the conductor says or, more often, does. In one magnificent page we see just how Bernard Haitink obtains a unique and superlative sound - and this is followed by a hilarious contrast with how Gordan Nikolich, the LSO leader, gets results in a very different way. Valery Gergiev, the LSO's Principal Conductor, is not universally liked by critics these days; they should read this book to see just why the LSO admire him so much.
Inevitably in a blog on the LSO's website there will be little criticism. Mr Davies is generous to his fellow musicians; no trace of the cynical old pro long bereft of any enthusiasm. But that is one of the most remarkable characteristics of today's LSO who as a whole show a huge respect for their conductors and soloists, as well as for each other.
There are a few examples of careless editorial work. But this book will bring pleasure and interest to anyone interested in orchestral music. More, please!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening, witty and brilliantly written, 23 Jun 2013
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I have to confess to having read a lot of the material in the LSO's On Tour blog and some of it is reproduced in the pages of The Show Must Go On. But the way the author has incorporated those memoirs alongside the diary entries from the two musicians of 1912, merging three - at times very personal narratives - into a well structured story is brilliant.

Davies stitches together the diary entries of two former members of the LSO seamlessly with his own and unobtrusively maintains a commentary on the circumstances surrounding the stories of the two musicians who wrote diaries on their first tour across the Atlantic. I found this book fascinating, very witty, endlessly informative and at times it has to be said heartbreakingly sad. Davies offers a brave, well balanced and personal insight into his own experiences and few have a more colourful set of stories to tell as him. Even fewer could tell their story as eloquently and entertaining as he does here.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a fantastic insight into the LSO!!, 6 Jun 2013
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Really enjoyed "The show must go on" It was fascinating to read all about the orchestra and its travels in 1912 and 2012 with so many intriguing characters. I feel compelled to find out more about how the 1912 members of the orchestra faired over the subsequent war years - maybe a sequel? The contrast with the LSO's travels in 2012 reveals as many similarities as differences.

It certainly makes you think how different the future of the LSO may have been had the 1912 tour left three weeks later .. a funny thing fate!

The book is wonderfully presented by Gareth Davies with a unique insight into the music and so much more. An fantastic flautist and a talented writer - some people can just do it all!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous read, 3 July 2013
This review is from: The Show Must Go On: On Tour with the LSO in 1912 and 2012 (Hardcover)
Well, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, from start to finish. I am a freelance musician, myself, and so much of this account rang true for me - the highs and lows of being on tour, and there were so many parallels between the present day and the past. Gareth Davies writes in a very approachable style, and gives a real insight into what it's like to be making real music with world-renowned conductors. Fascinating stuff. It is all so personal, too - you see the harder sides to orchestral life - separation from the family, illness and bereavement, written in an honest way. A non-musician would also find it a fascinating insight into the rather unorthodox life of a musician, I am sure. Well worth getting.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Regular concert go-er and LSO Friend, 16 Jun 2013
This review is from: The Show Must Go On: On Tour with the LSO in 1912 and 2012 (Hardcover)
I have been enjoying the book so much that I've purchased a 2nd copy for my brother (he got it in time for his birthday) and a 3rd copy for a sailing companion who lives near Birmingham and supports their band up there!

The book is eminently "dippable-into & -out-of" (sorry about the poor use of English) and I keep my copy at my bedside (good to read a few paragraphs, a little story or a complete chapter just before dropping off to sleep). It highlights the joys and strains of the life of a professional musician. Thank you Gareth,(and all of the band "portrayed within") for the love, dedication, professionalism and sheer bloody-mindedness that is portrayed in the book.

It is a fascinating insight as to how things work (and sometimes don't work) on an orchestral tour. The logistics of moving a 100 piece orchestra plus instruments and other assorted support personnel are brilliantly talked through in a light-hearted and moving way.

Having come from the same part of the world as the author's father, I was particularly amused by the story of the concert series featuring émigré composers and his chat about this with Valery Gergiev - I totally empathise with the sentiments expressed. There are so many little gems in the book that make it very enjoyable and informative reading.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Play it again, Gareth., 17 Jan 2014
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Mrs Curzon Tussaud (London, U.K.) - See all my reviews
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This book nearly took a very different course, since the LSO was booked to cross the Atlantic on Titanic; fortunately this was changed in the nick of time. The book provides a glimpse into orchestral life (and tours) both then and now. I loved it and could hardly put it down, and recommend it warmly to anyone with an interest in music, its performance, and the personalities and stories to be found within an orchestra.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Informative, enjoyable, 8 Jan 2014
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For anyone with an interest in the Classical Music world, this is worthwhile reading.

Easy to dip in and out of, the form can be a bit disjointed - but sometimes out of necessity - between the LSO in 1912 & 2012.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I couldn't put this book down., 16 Dec 2013
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peter2305 (Northumberland, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Show Must Go On: On Tour with the LSO in 1912 and 2012 (Hardcover)
I have just finished reading Gareth Davies' brilliant and fascinating book....I didn't want it to end. He is a very fluent and skilful writer and is obviously a perfectionist not only in flute-playing but in his literary output. The LSO are indeed fortunate to have such a multi-talented musician in their ranks.

There is humour, pathos, passion and a deep knowledge of music and musicians; this is no lightweight day-by-day calendar of life in a famous orchestra but a moving and in many ways, personal story. Life in a famous orchestra is no sinecure. Gareth writes with candour and emotion about how a professional career as a musician on tour with the LSO impacts on family life not only in the present day, but in the LSO of 100 years ago. He has obviously researched his subject very thoroughly. He deals with such diverse matters such as keeping fit whilst on tour and dealing with the various ways in which the orchestra's conductors approach the works they perform. I found the two accounts in Ch.17 of colleagues who had passed away particularly poignant as were the effects of illness which Gareth has also had to endure.

If nothing else, this book ought to ensure we don't take our wonderful orchestras for granted. This is a real page-turner of a book and one which I'm sure will appeal to musicians and music lovers across the spectrum.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful, 14 Dec 2013
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M. D. Holley (Kent, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Show Must Go On: On Tour with the LSO in 1912 and 2012 (Hardcover)
This book is such a page turner it almost read itself!

The author has an excellent writing style and a great sense of humour. I couldn't help chuckling out loud throughout.

There are also many insights into the life of a performing musician. The anecdotes about the LSO's conductors are very interesting. I also enjoyed hearing about Gareth's likes and dislikes within the orchestral repertoire. The links back to the 1912 tour worked well as a narrative structure, and provided variety against the longer contemporary sections.

I have already book another copy as a gift. Thoroughly recommended!
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Show Must Go On, 18 Sep 2013
A lovely book which had me close to tears sometimes and roaring with laughter at others.I loved it. More please
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The Show Must Go On: On Tour with the LSO in 1912 and 2012
The Show Must Go On: On Tour with the LSO in 1912 and 2012 by Gareth Davies (Hardcover - 30 May 2013)
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