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What are you reading, music or otherwise?


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Showing 276-300 of 587 posts in this discussion
Posted on 22 Jan 2011, 16:00:56 GMT
[Deleted by Amazon on 16 Nov 2011, 14:54:42 GMT]

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Jan 2011, 17:41:02 GMT
Last edited by the author on 27 Jan 2011, 14:59:19 GMT
Edgar Self says:
Beethoven's letters are as worthwhile and revealing as his music.

On inter-library loan, I'm reading a new book, "Samuel Barber Remembered", edited by Peter Dickinson, composer-pianist, emeritus professor Universities of Keele and London, who wrote books on Lennox Berkeley, Coplan, Cage, and Lord Berners, and in his spare time conducted the interviews with Virgil Thomson, Barber himself, pianist John Browning, Gian-Carlo Menotti and others on which his Barber memorial is based. University of Rochester Press, 200 pp., 2010.

Points: Barber deplored the funereal use of his "Adagio for Strings"; arranged it for chorus as "Agnus Dei" to forestall another's doing it (and for money); didn't think of himself as an American composer; played Bach every day at piano; and those close to him didn't see the "Adagio" as sad at all; in fact, Virgil Thomson calls it a love scene, which incidentally is how I first, ah, got to know it. Queries on this subject will not be answered! So much for BBC's poll of the world's saddest music, where I would have voted for Guilleaume Lekeu's "Adagio pour quatuor d'orchestre" (Bartholomee/Liege PO).

Posted on 24 Jan 2011, 11:01:56 GMT
As I have said elsewhere BBC polls have to be taken with a pinch of salt (or occasionally a Siberia-load). They have a tendency to ask one question and present the results in another way. So they might well have asked people for sad pieces of music and then billed it as 'the world's saddest music'. They also have a tendency restrict choice.

Rachmaninov also played Bach every day.

Posted on 27 Jan 2011, 15:02:51 GMT
Edgar Self says:
An enjoyable new Sherlock Holmes pastiche, "The Sherlockians" by young Graham Moore, intercutting from Conan Doyle's diary and rounds in 1900 with a present-day real murder at the annual convention of Baker Street Irregulars. Good fun and better than many such.

Posted on 20 Feb 2011, 22:07:00 GMT
Last edited by the author on 28 Feb 2011, 14:57:36 GMT
Edgar Self says:
"Reflections on Music" by Edwin Fischer, 47 pp., English translation 1951, Williams & Norgate, Ltd., Great Russell St., London. The only copy I have ever seen, in either Germany or English, just received from a London bookshop after a month and a day on the way by air. The chapters are: Address to Young Musicians; Art and Life; On Musical Interpretation; Mozart; Chopin; Schumann; Beethoven's Piano Works; Bach.

Written in 1927, 1929, 1932, 1937, 1943, 1947 as addresses to students, symposia, master-classes. I'd sought it for years in English at an affordable price. German editions were expensive and English also. Reading it slowly reinforces the regard for Fischer by Alfred Brendel, Joerg Demus, Daniel Barenboim, Paul Badura-Skoda, Harry Datymer, Reine Gianoli, Adrian Aschbacher, Alfred Cortot, Artur Schnabel, Eugen Jocum, and Wilhelm Furtwaengler.

Posted on 21 Feb 2011, 06:06:11 GMT
A wonderful current read is another Christmas present: the Oxford Illustrated History of Opera. In typical Oxford press fashion, the book presents a comprehensive and highly expert dissection of all the stages of opera history (going back as far as the fifteenth century). Illustrations are gorgeous and just when you didn't think there could be more: there is, a presentation of the history of staging opera. Quite excellent.

Apart from that, I have been consulting my Karajan biography (by Richard Osborne, 1999) for references on his recording of Pelleas et Melisande, for the pending arrival of my new set.

Posted on 27 Feb 2011, 12:48:25 GMT
Last edited by the author on 27 Feb 2011, 12:52:06 GMT
A Schnittke Reader (Russian Music Studies) reveals the man to be a thoroughgoing mystic who perceived the world in intensely manichean terms, with every action and decision playing out in realms extending way beyond the physical. A panpsychic who saw the symbolic aspects of existence as more real than the brute matter from which things are constructed. This framework completely conditioned his life and music in every detail. All his music is intimately concerned with the struggle between good and evil at every level, from the cosmic to the mundane. Whatever one might think about the music, there is no doubt that there have been few composers whose intentions were so serious, and so carefully structured by philosophical principles. I suppose Wagner is a relatively close, if somewhat skewed, point of comparison.

He has interesting things to say about pop music. He makes a strong distinction between evil as 'broken-good' and actual evil. In his music he represents actual evil with pop music. His thinking is that actual evil is like Mephistopheles, beguiling, something that is easily absorbed and that invades our being in a gradual and barely perceptible way. It is something that prevents us from seeing beyond ourselves, and paralyses us from reaching for something better in ourselves, In the end it ties us down to banality, inauthenticity and unreflecting conformity. How better to represent this in a musical context than pop music?

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Feb 2011, 14:52:04 GMT
Edgar Self says:
Good report, John, thanks. I must look that book up as I don't know it. I have cellist Ivan Ivashkin's "Alfred Schnittke", 240 pp., in Phaidon Press's 20th-century composers series. Excellent, many photographs. George Cross for writing two good paragraphs about Schnittke (especially your second) without use of the word "poly-stylistic", which otherwise has become almost mandatory.

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Feb 2011, 15:15:43 GMT
The Schnittke Reader book includes fairly large chunks from Ivashkin, but also many of Schnittke's own essays and then the observations of some who knew him.

Posted on 1 Mar 2011, 17:29:28 GMT
Edgar Self says:
Tully Potter's two-volume magnum opus, "Adolf Busch: The Life of an Honest Musician", arrived yesterday, 1400 pp., ten pounds, copiously illustrated, 40 years in the making. Adolf Busch, with his brothers Fritz and Hermann, and son-in-law Rudolf Serkin, was a great influence on my musical education. His Brandenburg Concertos and especially Bach's double-violin concerto, with string-quartets of Schubert and Beethoven, and unsurpassed recording of Schubert's second piano trio in E-flat, Op. 100 (his second recording, in 1951), milestones and guides.

Those familiar with Tully Potter from his editorship of "Classical Recordings" and epistolary jeremiads to the hapless editors of other, less astute, publications will justifiably expect a truculent examination of his fellow anti-Fascist.

Posted on 1 Mar 2011, 17:58:58 GMT
Tully Potter certainly seems to have some forthright views. He has contributed a number of the booklet notes for Testament recordings, for example: 'The influence of Mstislav Rostropovitch has led to a gross distortion of this beautiful score [Dvorak Cello Concerto] by most cellists, as Rostropovitch's interpretation has become more bizarre and self-indulgent by the year'

Posted on 1 Mar 2011, 18:09:22 GMT
Last edited by the author on 2 Mar 2011, 00:12:01 GMT
Edgar Self says:
Geoffrey: The well-named Tully Potter, a South African, is nothing if not forthright. His letters to editors of other music journals are breath-takingly excoriating, right up there with Donald Manildi of U. Maryland and the International Piano Library. They are both school of Sam'l. Johnson, Voltaire, and the equally well-named Walter Savage Landor, and do not tolerate fools gladly, recalling a frequent contributor to this Forum! Tully also recalls his partial coeval Walter Legge: One of Legge's benigner examples: "I tried to make it foolproof, not anticipating it must be bloody foolproof.")

Posted on 1 Mar 2011, 23:57:10 GMT
Last edited by the author on 1 Mar 2011, 23:58:14 GMT
pfvll says:
Oh, joy!

I came across this, part of a dissertation on Rachmaninoff, written by a student at a music school at a University in one of the northern Pacific states. And it's on line! I hope it isn't his thesis ........

" He soon was offered to tour the United States of which he composed the Third Piano Concerto (Op. 30, 1909). Rachmaninoff performed the piece himself after only being able to practice it on the plan(e) ride over, which is just unthinkable considering it is one of the hardest concertos ever written for piano"

Worth a D.Mus.?

But he(?)'s right about one thing - unthinkable.

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Mar 2011, 13:54:38 GMT
Edgar Self says:
pfvll, that Rachmaninoff dissertation writer must also pen Cyprien Katsaris's advertisements, which include this: "He wrote an elegy for either composer after their respective deaths."

Posted on 2 Mar 2011, 14:03:32 GMT
Most precious, both examples. It's something one sees more of in these days when everyone must have university qualifications, regardless of aptitude, while sources of finance are drying up. I don't blame the students but their supervisors. Why would anyone be allowed to write a thesis in a language of which they have inadequate mastery, unless it be from academia's growing desperation for funds.

Posted on 3 Mar 2011, 00:49:44 GMT
pfvll says:
EMS/JF-

I think I'm going to get him to write my obituary. It will be so wrong as to be entirely laudatory!

I have an image of a Ken Russell-style movie, with Rachmaninoff playing a concert Steinway crammed into a Vickers Vimy-type biplane, bucking its way across a stormy Atlantic as he irons the final snags out of the hand-written score, with that cigarette drooping out of the corner of his mouth, a la CD cover! With a hole cut in the top of the fuselage to accomodate his height, of course.

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Mar 2011, 01:02:43 GMT
pfvll says:
EMS -
Cute!

By the way, there is a very pleasant clip on YouTube of Katsaris playing a Scarlatti Sonata - K470 - on a lovely old Erard. I often play it when I need cheering up! Recommended.

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Apr 2011, 22:26:45 BST
Last edited by the author on 5 Apr 2011, 22:32:10 BST
Edgar Self says:
I hope our sometime contributor, the pianist Raymond Clarke sees this, for I am re-reading his revision of Ian Macdonald's "The New Shostakovich" along with the second edition of Elizabeth Wilson's "Shostakovich Remembered", both with much new material.

Mr. Clarke I believe has recorded three CDs of Shostakovich's music, and another of Ronald Stevenson's gargantuan "Passacaglia on D.S.C.H", all admirable and often with his own notes. Your description of Rachmaninoff in flight over the Atlantic cannot be improved upon.

PFVLL -- With you on Hemingway's "Old Man and the Sea", and even "Moby Dick", even the parts that Melville copied out of cetacean encyclopaedias.

Posted on 6 Apr 2011, 23:25:14 BST
Just now it's ten past midnight and I'm still reading . I ought to go to bed and have a good night's sleep as my dear wife tells me, but I can't put this book down. I think it's one of the best descriptions of the common soldier's life in the fifteenth century in England. The book is written by Bernard Cornwell and is his best book yet. The title of the book is of course AZINCOURT". Go and get it.
Good night at last I wish you from Denmark.

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Apr 2011, 01:25:37 BST
Last edited by the author on 7 Apr 2011, 01:29:08 BST
Edgar Self says:
Good night, Hans Daugaard, "may flights of angels sing thee to thy rest." Evidently you are reading about the Field of Agincourt, and the great battle fought there in 1415 between Henry V of England and Charles VI of France. By coincidence, my wife and I saw last night Kenneth Branagh's film of Shakespeare's play about it, "Henry V", and were talking about it today. The soldier's life, and his battles, were horrific.

By coincidence, Henry and Charles both lived until 1422, and were succeeded by their heirs, who, also coincidentally, both lived until 1461. And so it goes. Next week, Hamlet and Elsinore? Good night.

Posted on 11 Apr 2011, 16:03:14 BST
Edgar Self says:
Re-reading Thomas Manshardt's book "Aspects of Cortot" about his studies from 1953-1962 with the great pianist, with side-glances at Amy Fay's memoir "Music Study in Germany" describing concerts she attended in Berlin by Clara Schumann, Wagner, Tausig, and Anton Rubinstein, and her lessons with Kullak, Deppe, Tausig, and Liszt.

A typical lesson with Tausig: the student plays while Tausig shouts "Terrible! Shocking! Dreadful! O God! O GOD!". Then Tausig pushes the student off the bench, plays the piece himself, and runs out of the room saying "Now, play it like that."

Posted on 11 Apr 2011, 16:03:23 BST
[Deleted by the author on 13 Apr 2011, 16:01:01 BST]

Posted on 13 Apr 2011, 16:08:04 BST
Last edited by the author on 2 May 2011, 20:31:08 BST
Edgar Self says:
A book I learned about only recently from the Forum, Antal Dorati's memoir "Notes of Seven Decades" covering his UK activities, the complete Haydn symphonies project. his Mercury "Living Stereo" records for producer-engineer Wilma Cozart (I didn't know she had been his secretary in Dallas and again in Minneapolis), and his tenures in Dallas, where I first heard him, Minneapolis, and Detroit. He got his start as a ballet conductor, like Vladimir Golschmann, Anatole Fistoulari, Walter Susskind I think,Efrem Kurtz, and many another. His book reads like an honest chronicle. Like all Hungarian musicians, he knew Kodaly, Bartok, and the elder Dohnanyi. His father played violin in the Budapest orchestra under Vaclav Talich.

Dorati was the first prominent conductor I heard in concert. An "Eroica" and Tchaikovsky concerto with Rubinstein I remember well. Then Stokowski came as guest (Brahms First), and Toscanini visited on the 1950 NBCSO's transcontinental rail tour (Tchaikovsky Pathetique). Those were good years. Enjoyable reading, and an exercise in recalling and re-constructing my mis-spent youth.

Gerhard Samuel was his assistant conductor in Minneapolis, and Walter Hendl, assistant to Fritz Reiner, succeeded him in Dallas.

I'm posting this at risk of redundancy, to break 24-hours' silence on the Forum, hoping not to wake anyone up.

In reply to an earlier post on 13 Apr 2011, 17:33:02 BST
pfvll says:
Piso -

ALWAYS good to hear from you! Sounds a good book. A girlfiend of mine is best friends with Dorati's mistress in the UK!! Within the six degrees of separation..........

In reply to an earlier post on 13 Apr 2011, 18:01:44 BST
Edgar Self says:
pfvl -- I don't know if Dorati's memoir is THAT honest or not. I'm only up to his second wife, the pianist Ilse von Alpenheim. Sometimes six degrees of separation isn't quite enough.
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