- Hardcover: 576 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc (23 Mar. 1995)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0195072375
- ISBN-13: 978-0195072372
- Product Dimensions: 16.4 x 4.7 x 24.1 cm
- Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,646,374 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Bamboula!: Life and Times of Louis Moreau Gottschalk Hardcover – 23 Mar 1995
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About the Author
About the Author: S. Frederick Starr is President of The Aspen Institute . An authority on Russian history and an accomplished musician, Starr is the author of Red and Hot: The Fate of Jazz in the Soviet Union. He is a clarinetist with the Louisiana Repertory Jazz Ensemble.
Top Customer Reviews
The book is badly flawed, and this time Frederick Starr has no excuse. When Vernon Loggins wrote "Where the words end" in the 1950s, the first ever attempt to a serious biography of Gottschalk, he was desperately searching for the notebooks and letters of the musician. He suspected that they should be somewhere, but could not find them. They appear in the early 1980s, thanks to the tenacity of Robert Oggerfeld, who was a collector of memorabilia of the pianist. They are currently in the New York Library but Starr did not consult them probably because he discovered that Gottschalk writes in French to his family (even letters to his father, when Gottschalk is ten years old, are in French).
Musicologists in the U.S want Gottschalk to be the first known American composer, so they go to great lengths to have biographies focused on the American years of the wandering pianist. Starr published his book in 2000. In 1985, the first French book about Gottschalk, using all the letters discovered in the 1980s, revealed that the mother of Gottschalk was a Brusley de Beaubert. Her grand-father was the first judge of Nouvelle-Orleans. Gottschalk was sent to Paris when ten, to live with his cousins: the Fauque de Jonquières. That well-connected aristocratic family pathed the way for Gottschalk to be received at the Spanish court, where Liszt, a commoner, could not.
There is no mention in Starr's biography of this family background and he can't even get the name of Gottschalk's mother right.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The book follows Gottschalk as a prodigy in Paris, his European travels as a virtuoso pianist and his triumphant return to New Orleans as a young man only to find disappointment as he played in such cultural bastions as Boston. Gottschalk was a traveler and he ceaselessly journeyed during his short life to much acclaim and adoration. Financially, he was challenged by having to provide for his family on the death of his father, his own bad judgment and the need to rely on managers.
Perhaps one of the more eye-opening chapters was the numbing performance schedule he kept during the Civil War when he traveled from one engagement to another mostly sleeping on trains and having to endure the extreme discomfort of the trains themselves and the people that were packed into them. Reading Mr. Starr's book has led me to listen to more of Gottschalk's music and wish that more of his music survived. This is an important contribution to the understanding of America's first true composer and as such is a great achievement. As I said, the text could use a bit of spicing up here and there but if you want to know about Gottschalk look no further.
Some of this might stem from the biographer himself not being a pianist, and not a composer (at least one of any distinction). Perhaps Starr lacked the neccessary insight for more musical opinions, or perhaps too much of Gottschalk's life is still relatively unknown. I'll perhaps give a pass to author on the latter point, and give book 4 stars because it is the best biography on him yet written.
I was never bored reading this biography. The information gathered on New Orleans, Cuba and South America alone were of great interest to me and dove tailed nicely with my other reading. It covers a lot of territory geographically and musically. References to coffee houses in Spain where piano and guitar music was being improvised is of great interest to musicologists.
Another reviewer was concerned about references to Gottschalk and Congo Square. Not only do I not recall the statements he cites, I seem to recall just the opposite! I don't understand the supposed controversy. Plenty of information was provided on the subject and considering the nature of the subject and with no first hand accounts of Gottschalk at Congo Square, it's a wonder any information survives. Gottschalk would have been a young boy. Whether he peeked over the fence, stood face to face with slave musicians or simply heard the unavoidable influences of Congo Square on everyday music up and down Esplanade Avenue is really a moot point.
If this reviewer felt BAMBOUZALLED then for the life of me I don't know what he thought this book was about and if he had any interest in Gottschalk, should have appreciated every tid bit, each with it's proper place and value.
After reading BAMBOULA I doubt there is much more I care to learn about L.M.Gottschalk. Very thorough. It also provided new insights into certain Gottscalk compositions and provided a whole new listening perspective.
Whether there was more information than warranted, considering the subject, I leave to you and your relative interest in L.M. Gottschalk. Again, if not gathered together here, then where? I recommend it and found it informative and enjoyable.