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A Deeper Blue Cover

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A Deeper Blue

The Life and Music of Townes Van Zandt

Robert Earl Hardy

This is the first serious biography of a man widely considered one of Texas’—and America’s—greatest songwriters. Like Jimmie Rodgers, Woody Guthrie, Robert Johnson, and Hank Williams, Townes Van Zandt was the embodiment of that mythic American figure, the troubled troubadour. A Deeper Blue traces Van Zandt’s background as the scion of a prominent Texas family; his troubled early years and his transformation from promising pre-law student to wandering folk singer; his life on the road and the demons that pursued and were pursued by him; the women who loved and inspired him; and the brilliance and enduring beauty of his songs, which are explored in depth. The author draws on eight years’ extensive research and interviews with Townes’ family and closest friends and colleagues. He looks beyond the legend and paints a colorful portrait of a complex man who embraced the darkness of demons and myth as well as the light of deep compassion and humanity, all “for the sake of the song.”

Dennis Brain Cover

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Dennis Brain

A Life in Music

Stephen Gamble and William Lynch

The British horn player Dennis Brain (1921–1957) is commonly described by such statements as “the greatest horn player of the 20th Century,” “a genius,” and “a legend.” He was both a prodigy and popularizer, famously performing a concerto on a garden hose in perfect pitch. On his usual concert instrument his tone was of unsurpassed beauty and clarity, complemented by a flawless technique. The recordings he made with Herbert von Karajan of Mozart’s horn concerti are considered the definitive interpretations. Brain enlisted in the English armed forces during World War II for seven years, joining the National Symphony Orchestra in wartime in 1942. After the war he filled the principal horn positions in both the Philharmonia and Royal Philharmonic Orchestras. He later formed his own wind quintet and began conducting. Composers including Benjamin Britten and Paul Hindemith lined up to write music for him. Even fifty years after his tragic death at the age of 36 in an auto accident in 1957, Peter Maxwell Davies was commissioned to write a piece in his honor. Stephen Gamble and William Lynch have conducted numerous interviews with family, friends, and colleagues and uncovered information in the BBC archives and other lesser known sources about recordings that were previously unknown. This volume describes Brain’s life and analyzes in depth his musical career. Its appendices of information on performances will appeal to music historians, and its details on Brain’s instruments and equipment will be useful to horn players. “A pleasure to read: serious but personable, unaffected, unpretentious—conversational in tone. The character of the prose can be said to reflect the character of the book’s subject. Eminently satisfying.”—Robert Marshall, author of Dennis Brain on Record

Doc Cover

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Doc

The Story of a Birmingham Jazz Man

Frank Adams

Doc is the autobiography of jazz elder statesman Frank “Doc” Adams, highlighting his role in Birmingham, Alabama’s, historic jazz scene and tracing his personal adventure that parallels, in many ways, the story and spirit of jazz itself.
 
Doc tells the story of an accomplished jazz master, from his musical apprenticeship under John T. “Fess” Whatley and his time touring with Sun Ra and Duke Ellington to his own inspiring work as an educator and bandleader.
Central to this narrative is the often-overlooked story of Birmingham’s unique jazz tradition and community. From the very beginnings of jazz, Birmingham was home to an active network of jazz practitioners and a remarkable system of jazz apprenticeship rooted in the city’s segregated schools. Birmingham musicians spread across the country to populate the sidelines of the nation’s bestknown bands. Local musicians, like Erskine Hawkins and members of his celebrated orchestra, returned home heroes. Frank “Doc” Adams explores, through first-hand experience, the history of this community, introducing readers to a large and colorful cast of characters— including “Fess” Whatley, the legendary “maker of musicians” who trained legions of Birmingham players and made a significant mark on the larger history of jazz. Adams’s interactions with the young Sun Ra, meanwhile, reveal life-changing lessons from one of American music’s most innovative personalities.

Along the way, Adams reflects on his notable family, including his father, Oscar, editor of the Birmingham Reporter and an outspoken civic leader in the African American community, and Adams’s brother, Oscar Jr., who would become Alabama’s first black supreme court justice. Adams’s story offers a valuable window into the world of Birmingham’s black middle class in the days before the civil rights movement and integration. Throughout, Adams demonstrates the ways in which jazz professionalism became a source of pride within this community, and he offers his thoughts on the continued relevance of jazz education in the twenty-first century.


 

Eagle Minds Cover

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Eagle Minds

Selected Correspondence of Istvan Anhalt and George Rochberg (1961-2005)

Eagle Minds—a selection from the correspondence between the Canadian composer and scholar Istvan Anhalt and his American counterpart George Rochberg—is a splendid chronicle and a penetrating analysis of the swerving socio-cultural movements of a volatile half-century as observed by two highly gifted individuals.

Beginning in 1961 and spanning forty-four years, their conversation embraces not only music but other forms of contemporary art, as well as politics, philosophy, religion, and mysticism. The letters chronicle the deepening of their friendship over the years, and the openness, honesty, and genuine warmth between them provide the reader with an intimate look at their personalities. A fascinating intellectual tension emerges between the two men as they record their individual responses to musical modernism, to changing political and social realities, and to their Jewish heritage and sense of place, one as a son of Ukrainian immigrants to the United States, the other as a refugee from war-torn Hungary.

Allowing us a privileged glimpse into the private lives and thoughts of these fascinating men, Eagle Minds is a valuable tool for scholars interested in North American composers in the late twentieth century and essential reading for anyone interested in the cultural and social history of that era.

Earl Hooker, Blues Master Cover

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Earl Hooker, Blues Master

Sebastian Danchin

<p class="red">The life and early death of a South Side guitar genius, the greatest unheralded Chicago blues-maker

Jimi Hendrix called Earl Hooker "the master of the wah-wah pedal." Buddy Guy slept with one of Hooker's slides beneath his pillow hoping to tap some of the elder bluesman's power. And B. B. King has said repeatedly that, for his money, Hooker was the best guitar player he ever met.

Tragically, Earl Hooker died of tuberculosis in 1970 when he was on the verge of international success just as the Blues Revival of the late sixties and early seventies was reaching full volume.

Second cousin to now-famous bluesman John Lee Hooker, Earl Hooker was born in Mississippi in 1929, and reared in black South Side Chicago where his parents settled in 1930. From the late 1940s on, he was recognized as the most creative electric blues guitarist of his generation. He was a "musician's musician," defining the art of blues slide guitar and playing in sessions and shows with blues greats Muddy Waters, Junior Wells, and B. B. King.

A favorite of black club and neighborhood bar audiences in the Midwest, and a seasoned entertainer in the rural states of the Deep South, Hooker spent over twenty-five years of his short existence burning up U.S. highways, making brilliant appearances wherever he played.

Until the last year of his life, Hooker had only a few singles on obscure labels to show for all the hard work. The situation changed in his last few months when his following expanded dramatically. Droves of young whites were seeking American blues tunes and causing a blues album boom. When he died, his star's rise was extinguished. Known primarily as a guitarist rather than a vocalist, Hooker did not leave a songbook for his biographer to mine. Only his peers remained to praise his talent and pass on his legend.

"Earl Hooker's life may tell us a lot about the blues," biographer Sebastian Danchin says, "but it also tells us a great deal about his milieu. This book documents the culture of the ghetto through the example of a central character, someone who is to be regarded as a catalyst of the characteristic traits of his community."

Like the tales of so many other unheralded talents among bluesmen, Earl Hooker, Blues Master, Hooker's life story, has all the elements of a great blues song -- late nights, long roads, poverty, trouble, and a soul-felt pining for what could have been.

Sebastian Danchin is a freelance writer and record producer. He also creates programs for France's leading radio network, Radio-France, and is the blues editor for France's leading jazz magazine, Jazzman. His previous books, among others, include Les Dieux du Blues (Paris: Editions Atlas, 1995) and Blues Boy: The Life and Music of B. B. King (University Press of Mississippi, 1998).

Edward Elgar and His World Cover

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Edward Elgar and His World

Byron Adams

Edward Elgar (1857-1934) is undoubtedly one of the most fascinating, important, and influential figures in the history of British music. He rose from humble beginnings and achieved fame with music that to this day is beloved by audiences in England, and his work has secured an enduring legacy worldwide. Leading scholars examine the composer's life in Edward Elgar and His World, presenting a comprehensive portrait of both the man and the age in which he lived.

Elgar's achievement is remarkably varied and wide-ranging, from immensely popular works like the famous Pomp and Circumstance March no. 1--a standard feature of American graduations--to sweeping masterpieces like his great oratorio The Dream of Gerontius. The contributors explore Elgar's Catholicism, which put him at odds with the prejudices of Protestant Britain; his glorification of British colonialism; his populist tendencies; his inner life as an inspired autodidact; the aristocratic London drawing rooms where his reputation was made; the class prejudice with which he contended throughout his career; and his anguished reaction to World War I. Published in conjunction with the 2007 Bard Music Festival and the 150th anniversary of Elgar's birth, this elegant and thought-provoking volume illuminates the greatness of this accomplished English composer and brings vividly to life the rich panorama of Victorian and Edwardian Britain.

The contributors are Byron Adams, Leon Botstein, Rachel Cowgill, Sophie Fuller, Daniel M. Grimley, Nalini Ghuman Gwynne, Deborah Heckert, Charles Edward McGuire, Matthew Riley, Alison I. Shiel, and Aidan J. Thomson.

Some images inside the book are unavailable due to digital copyright restrictions.

Elliott Carter Cover

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Elliott Carter

James Wierzbicki

This compact study provides a fresh perspective on one of the most significant American composers of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. A leading voice of the American classical music tradition and a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Music, Elliott Carter was initially encouraged to become a composer by Charles Ives, and he went on to learn from Walter Piston at Harvard University and Nadia Boulanger in Paris. Drawing on Carter's voluminous writings and compositions, James Wierzbicki provides a clear discussion of Carter's evolving understanding of musical time and the influence of film on his work. Celebrating his 100th birthday in 2008 by premiering a number of new compositions, Carter has been a powerful presence on the American new music scene, an important connection to American music's foundational figures, and a dynamic force in its continuing evolution.

Ernst von Dohnányi Cover

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Ernst von Dohnányi

A Song of Life

Ilona von Dohnányi. Edited by James A. Grymes

"... a rare kind of biography and autobiography: a clear and elegant exposition of fact, as well as a humane portrait of a great piano virtuoso, composer, teacher, and democratic soul, as told to and seen through the eyes of one close to him." -- Mark Mitchell

Ernst von Dohnányi (1877--1960) was one of the most highly respected musicians of his time. The young Dohnányi enjoyed an international prestige that brought him into contact with such 19th-century masters as Johannes Brahms and Eugène d'Albert. He is remembered for his technique and interpretive skills as a pianist and conductor, as well as for the masterpieces he composed for piano, chamber ensembles, and orchestra. As a teacher and administrator, Dohnányi was responsible for the training of an entire generation of musicians in Hungary, and for helping to shape the country's musical culture. After World War II, his career foundered when he was falsely accused of being a Nazi sympathizer. In 1953, at the age of 76, Dohnányi returned to international prominence with a triumphant "re-debut" at Carnegie Hall. Ernst von Dohnányi: A Song of Life, written from a firsthand perspective by Dohnányi's widow, is the first full English-language biography of the artist.

Expressive Intersections in Brahms Cover

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Expressive Intersections in Brahms

Essays in Analysis and Meaning

Edited by Heather Platt and Peter H. Smith

Contributors to this exciting new volume examine the intersection of structure and meaning in Brahms's music, utilizing a wide range of approaches, from the theories of Schenker to the most recent analytical techniques. They combine various viewpoints with the semiotic-based approaches of Robert Hatten, and address many of the most important genres in which Brahms composed. The essays reveal the expressive power of a work through the comparison of specific passages in one piece to similar works and through other artistic realms such as literature and painting. The result of this intertextual re-framing is a new awareness of the meaningfulness of even Brahms's most "absolute" works.

Fannie Bloomfield-Zeisler Cover

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Fannie Bloomfield-Zeisler

The Life and Times of a Piano Virtuoso

Beth Abelson Macleod

One of the foremost piano virtuosi of her time, Fannie Bloomfield-Zeisler reliably filled Carnegie Hall. As a "new woman," she simultaneously embraced family life and forged an independent career built around a repertoire of the German music she tirelessly championed. Yet after her death she faded into obscurity. In this first book-length biography, Beth Abelson Macleod reintroduces a figure long, and unjustly, overlooked by music history. Trained in Vienna, Bloomfield-Zeisler significantly advanced the development of classical music in the United States. Her powerful and sensitive performances, both in recital and with major orchestras, won her followers across the United States and Europe and often provided her American audiences with their first exposure to the pieces she played. The European-style salon in her Chicago home welcomed musicians, scientists, authors, artists, and politicians, while her marriage to attorney Sigmund Zeisler placed her at the center of a historical moment when Sigmund defended the anarchists in the 1886 Haymarket trial. In its re-creation of a musical and social milieu, Fannie Bloomfield-Zeisler paints a vivid portrait of a dynamic artistic life.

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