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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars greatness and tragedy, 14 May 2014
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This review is from: Piano Man (Hardcover)
For greatness, Ogdon was a man of immense gifts and talent. His playing was, at its best, the equal of anyone music has seen. His ability to sight read, even from a full orchestral score, verged on the miraculous. His memory was phenomenal. with vast numbers of concerti and solo music at his fingertips. He devoted much of his energies to modern music, the cerebral and technical nature of which left many, myself included, wondering if it was worth the effort.

Tragedy sums up his life from more or less after his marriage. He was not a well man, and one wonders how he found the energy for his endless recitals and overseas tours. He was mentally fragile, and as the pressures of his life began to mount, became increasingly unstable, leading to suicide attempts and a number of total breakdowns. Much of the pressure arose from financial problems. Catering for his wife's desire for the high life was not cheap. In addition, there were school fees for his children, and his own wish to build a villa in Spain, which ended as an expensive fiasco.

He needed an efficient minder, someone to limit his huge number of annual engagements, and keep him in touch with the real world. His wife did her best at times, but his health, ability and engagements declined, and he died of a chest infection.

It is a fascinating if troubling story, and well told, although I could have done without the author's attempts at psychoanalysis. Ogdon's memory is fading. Many young pianists have not heard of him.He could, should, have been up with the very greatest, but has ended as Eliot might have said, not with a bang but a whimper.
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