Tag Archives: biography

Humphrey Carpenter’s Benjamin Britten: A Biography

Whatever one may think of Benjamin Britten’s place in the history of music, there is no doubt that his life provides a fascinating and insightful look into the place of the artist in the twentieth century. In Humphrey Carpenter’s biography, … Continue reading

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Jack Vance’s This Is Me, Jack Vance! (Or, More Properly, This is I)

Jack Vance has been one of the most continuously productive and popular and arguably one of the most influential writers of science-fiction. He’s also a mystery writer of note. (His is a name that I see popping up again and … Continue reading

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Luis Ortiz’ Emshwiller: Infinity x Two — The Art and Life of Ed and Carol Emshwiller

“I like the idea of going through different careers. It’s like being reborn a number of times.” That is probably the best summation of Ed Emshwiller’s life, from the horse’s mouth. Known to science-fiction fans of the 1950s, ’60s and … Continue reading

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Colin McPhee’s A House in Bali

Colin McPhee, a Canadian-American composer who had much more influence on American music than the body of his music might indicate (see Colin McPhee: Composer in Two Worlds by Carol J. Oja), left behind two books that were as influential, … Continue reading

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Carol J. Oja’s Colin McPhee: Composer in Two Worlds

The music of the East, particularly the gamelan of Indonesia, and even more particularly that of Bali, has a longer history of interaction with the music of the West than many might imagine. Claude Debussy first encountered the gamelan in … Continue reading

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Jean-Marie Déguignet’s Memoirs of a Breton Peasant [ed. Bernez Rouz; English trans. Linda Asher]

It is not often that one gets to read the memoirs of a peasant, because it’s not often that a peasant writes a memoir. This particular peasant was Breton, which is, for those fascinated by a part of the world … Continue reading

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Joseph Bristow, ed.: Oscar Wilde and Modern Culture: The Making of a Legend

From the vantage of a century later, it’s hard for us to understand the last years of Oscar Wilde’s life and those immediately after his death. His disgrace after his conviction for committing acts of “gross indecency” with another man … Continue reading

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Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey

I’ve been reading Joseph Campbell’s books for decades, beginning with the massive, four volume The Masks of God in the late 1960s or 1970s. (I’m not sure what it says about me that I would jump right into a 2,000 … Continue reading

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Arnold Steinhardt’s Violin Dreams

I run across a fair number of musical biographies, autobiographies, reminiscences, and the like, all the way from Berlioz as seen by his contemporaries to Ned Rorem’s somewhat scandalous diaries. The common thread, of course, is that they are about … Continue reading

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Michael Rose: Berlioz Remembered; Hector Berlioz (trans.and ed. by Alastair Bruce): The Musical Madhouse (Les Grotesques de la musique)

If the Paris of the 19th century was considered the cultural capital of the world, it was with good reason: of the major artistic and intellectual figures of the age, those who did not live there made a point of … Continue reading

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Judith Tick’s Ruth Crawford Seeger’s A Composer’s Search for American Music

Ruth Crawford Seeger is a pivotal but little-known figure of American music in the 20th Century. Judith Tick’s biography is a suitable monument to Crawford’s life and work. A pianist, composer, teacher and folklorist, Crawford straddled the worlds of modernist … Continue reading

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