They composed music no one else had ever heard. They created musical forms that never existed before. They touch our lives daily centuries after their deaths. How did they do this? Explore the lives of some of the great composers of the last three hundred years and see if any of these questions can ever be answered.
"Franz Schubert's tragically short life was lived in one of Europe's most richly musical cities: a Vienna that worshipped Beethoven and where Rossini and Paganini drew crowds. Christopher Gibbs considers how and what Schubert composed, taking a fresh look at this misunderstood composer, particularly the unfolding of his professional career, his relationship to Beethoven, the growth of his reputation and public image and his darker side of drinking, depression and sexual ambiguity. This searching and sympathetic biography questions the customary sentimental clichés and the recent revisionist views concerning this elusive genius."
Robert Craft was Stravinsky's closest friend during the last twenty-three years of the composer's life. He kept detailed diaries which provide a glimpse of Stravinsky's life, work and social circle. The greats of twentieth century music, art and literature make appearances throughout this book as they interact with the great musical innovator.
Also available as an eBook.
The prolific creator of such classic popular works as Romeo and Juliet, Peter and the Wolf, and Cinderella, Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) was one of the most important and influential composers of the twentieth century. In this definitive biography of Prokofiev, Harlow Robinson provides a richly detailed portrait of a man whose complex character, like his music, combined the traditional and the contemporary in odd and unexpected ways. Drawing on previously unknown or unavailable Russian-language sources, including extensive archival material, Robinson traces Prokofiev's extraordinary life from the fairy-tale world of Czarist Russia, through his many years abroad in America and Europe, to his perplexing permanent return to Moscow in 1936 under the Soviet Regime. That Prokofiev died on the very day as Josef Stalin, his principal persecutor, was the final irony of his intense and enigmatic career.
The turbulent personal and professional life of the musical genius Richard Wagneris a subject that has intrigued many writers. In this biography, Robert W. Gutman has related Wagner's life and work to the history of ideas and the many currents of thought that converged in this fascinating man. Wagner's art reflected the finest and worse elements of the nineteenth century, many of which exercised a fateful influence on our own times. This book examines the darker regions of nationalism and racism from which Wagner drew his most powerful symbols.
Puccini's operas are among the most popular and widely performed in the world, yet few books have examined his body of work from an analytical perspective. This volume remedies that lack in lively prose accessible to scholars and opera enthusiasts alike. Although the emphasis is on the compositions there is a full examination of Puccini's life, family, musical influences and society.
The Romantic era was the cradle for artists who lived life to the fullest and loved without restraint, and Robert Schumann and his wife, Clara, were the epitome of this unbounded period. Robert shocked and confused listeners with music that heralded the beginning of the modern era while he drove both his mind and his body to their limit. Clara was the most acclaimed female pianist of her time--a time that included Liszt, Chopin, Mendelssohn, and later, Brahms, whom Clara and Robert loved more than any other man. With characters of surpassing vitality, Longing delineates the most intimate details of the relationships between men and women with a surpassing precision, sympathy, and wisdom.
Composer, pianist, author, television lecturer, Harvard lecturer, cultural icon and conductor without peer, Leonard Bernstein was one of the most flamboyant and multifaceted musical giants of the twentieth century. His versatility and boundless energy were legendary. He captivated Broadway with such hits as On the Town and West Side Story, wrested and cajoled out of the world's best orchestras the most inspired performances ever heard, and introduced several generations of Americans to classical music with his "Omnibus" and Young People's Concerts television shows. This detailed and in-depth biography brings to life this controversial and contradictory figure.
"A landmark biography of Bach on the 250th anniversary of the composer's death, written by the leading Bach scholar of our age. Although we have heard the music of J. S. Bach in countless performances and recordings, the composer himself still comes across only as an enigmatic figure in a single familiar portrait. Author Christoph Wolff presents a new picture that brings to life this towering figure of the Baroque era.
"This engaging new biography portrays Bach as the living, breathing, and sometimes imperfect human being that he was, while bringing to bear all the advances of the last half-century of Bach scholarship. Wolff demonstrates the intimate connection between the composer's life and his music, showing how Bach's superb inventiveness pervaded his career as musician, composer, performer, scholar, and teacher. And throughout, we see Bach in the broader context of his time: its institutions, traditions, and influences."
One of the Great Courses series of recorded lectures, this is a biographical and musical study of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791), who composed more than 600 works of beauty and brilliance in just over 20 years. Mozart combined the pure lyricism of song with dramatic timing, depth of expression, and a technical mastery of the complexities of phrase structure and harmony to create a body of work unique in the repertoire. His personal life has generated nearly as much interest. Was Mozart the horse-laughing idiot of theater and cinema? Was he borderline autistic or musical freak? And how did he really die? Professor Robert Greenberg of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music states that,"The goal of these lectures is to show Mozart to be a person: a talented, hard-working, ambitious man who had friends and enemies and whose music was subject to criticism in his own day."
Drawing on diaries, correspondence, and musical manuscripts, this book captures the complex personality of the great English composer Edward Elgar, tracing the preoccupations that bind together his life and works and describing the society and culture of his day. Elgar expressed a heartfelt religious faith in works such as the oratorio The Dream of Gerontius. He was an inveterate lovers of riddle and codes; his famous "Enigma Variations" puzzle musicologists to this day. His uncomplicated patriotism inspired him to honor the military greatness of England with the famous set of concert marches Pomp and Circumstance.