Classical Music Biographies - Books

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Istvan
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Location: France

Re: Classical Music Biographies - Books

Post by Istvan » Thu Oct 10, 2013 7:29 am

The Cosima Wagner Diaries should never go out of the catalogue but I bet they have. They certainly don't deal in trivia: the couple's mealtime conversation was on the highest level, discussing the great philosophers, world affairs, politics and the arts. We learn a great deal about their individual characters too: Cosima was more anti-Semitic than her husband and also very over-sensitive: her short-tempered husband (he suffered from insomnia and worseneing heart disease, which he mistook for indigestion) often had her in tears. Most interesting of all are the remarks about Wagner's composing methods and motivations. There are many valuable pages about the first "Ring" performances - RW was none too pleased with Richter's "unimaginative" conducting and categorically stated that he did not want over-slow tempi.

Definitely recommended.
Cheers

Istvan

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Dimma
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Re: Classical Music Biographies - Books

Post by Dimma » Sat Oct 12, 2013 3:25 pm

Istvan wrote:The Cosima Wagner Diaries should never go out of the catalogue but I bet they have. They certainly don't deal in trivia: the couple's mealtime conversation was on the highest level, discussing the great philosophers, world affairs, politics and the arts. We learn a great deal about their individual characters too: Cosima was more anti-Semitic than her husband and also very over-sensitive: her short-tempered husband (he suffered from insomnia and worseneing heart disease, which he mistook for indigestion) often had her in tears. Most interesting of all are the remarks about Wagner's composing methods and motivations. There are many valuable pages about the first "Ring" performances - RW was none too pleased with Richter's "unimaginative" conducting and categorically stated that he did not want over-slow tempi.

Definitely recommended.
Thanks for the input. Yes, they are certainly OOP at this point, but affordable used copies show up here and there. This also includes an abridged version from the late 90s (I am generally not in favor of any type of abridgment). I have been reading a bit in the diaries and one certainly feels like a fly on the wall, but that is obviously the nature of these types of documents. Do you think that Cosima Wagner had a sense of writing for prosperity or were these truly "personal" diaries?

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Istvan
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Re: Classical Music Biographies - Books

Post by Istvan » Sun Oct 13, 2013 7:25 am

I'm afraid I can't give an expert answer but Cosima was obviously aware of her husband's greatness and became an ardent carrier of the flame after his death so these diaries were almost certainly written with posterity in mind.
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Istvan

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Steinway
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Re: Classical Music Biographies - Books

Post by Steinway » Sun Oct 13, 2013 11:30 am

Here's a list of biographies I thoroughly enjoyed and would highly recommend...

Robert Schumann..John Worthen

Franz Liszt..the Weimar Years..Alan Walker

Beethoven..Lewis Lockwood

Shostakovich..A Life Remembered..Elizabeth Wilson

Gustav Mahler..letters to his wife..LeGrange & Lewis..Cornell Univ.Press

Johann Sebastion Bach..Martin Beck

Leonard Bernstein..Humphrey Burton


Not a biography but an amazing read..

The Twisted Muse..Michael H.Kater

Mookalafalas
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Location: Taiwan

Re: Classical Music Biographies - Books

Post by Mookalafalas » Sun Oct 13, 2013 9:41 pm

Thanks for the list, Steinway.
Call me Al (cuz its my name)

Wallingford
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Re: Classical Music Biographies - Books

Post by Wallingford » Mon Oct 14, 2013 5:20 pm

In Impressionist music, it's always handy to have good verbal descriptions of the works involved. This is why, for a Ravel biography,I find Norman Demuth's book valuable. It's part of the "Master Muscians" series.
If I could tell my mom and dad
That the things we never had
Never mattered we were always ok
Getting ready for Christmas day
--Paul Simon

Klipspringer
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Re: Classical Music Biographies - Books

Post by Klipspringer » Wed Oct 16, 2013 1:27 pm

I would like to read a biography of Clara Haskil. There are two available in French:

Clara Haskil by Martin Melkonian

Clara Haskil by Jérôme Spycket

Any opinions of either of these?

I believe that Spycket had access to a great many of Haskil's extant letters so I suspect his is the more authoritative biography. Does anyone know who the "keeper" of these letters is?

Thanks for any insights!

Chris

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