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A Grand Opera for the Twenty-first Century
Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer’s grand opera Moby-Dick was a stunning success in the world premiere production by the Dallas Opera in 2010. Robert K. Wallace attended the final performance of the Dallas production and has written this book so readers can experience the process by which this contemporary masterpiece was created and performed on stage. Interviews with the creative team and draft revisions of the libretto and score show the opera in the process of being born. Interviews with the principal singers and the production staff follow the five-week rehearsal period into the world premiere production, each step of the way illustrated by more than two hundred color photographs by Karen Almond. Opera fans, lovers of Moby-Dick, and students of American and global culture will welcome this book as highly readable and visually enthralling account of the creation of a remarkable new opera that does full justice to its celebrated literary source. Just as Heggie and Scheer’s opera is enjoyed by operagoers with no direct knowledge of Moby-Dick, so will this book be enjoyed by opera fans unaware of Melville and by Melville fans unaware of opera.
The Life of Pee Wee King
Pee Wee King's birth on February 18, 1914, into a Milwaukee working-class Polish family named Kuczynski was hardly an indicator that he would grow up to become a pioneer and superstar of country and western music. Certainly no one in the Polish-German community of his youth could have foreseen his influence on the direction of American popular music or his enduring fame on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry. Even Pee Wee King himself is incredulous at the unlikely twists and turns of his life and career.
Pee Wee King is best remembered today as the co-writer of the most popular country music song of all time, The Tennessee Waltz. He is just as important, however, for his vital role in expanding the horizons, and the market potential, of country and western music. He took the polka and waltz rhythms of his youth, mixed them with the sounds of the big bands of the thirties and forties, and flavored it all with the balladry and moods of the Western cowboy. He combined this new sound with folk and country traditions rooted in places like Louisville, Knoxville, and Nashville. The result was a smooth, listenable, danceable, up-to-date sound that has become the most popular form of music in the United States.
Recipient of numerous awards, including induction into both the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Country Music Hall of Fame, Pee Wee King has been one of the most important figures in country music for over sixty years. Told in King's own voice and words, this biography, based on many hours of taped conversations, is the first account of King's incredible life and career. Featuring a star-studded cast of characters from the history of music -- Eddy Arnold, Minnie Pearl, Roy Acuff, Hank Williams, Gene Autry, Patti Page, and many others -- this memorable book is a must-read for any fan of country music.
Reinventing Film Music
Through film composer Henry Mancini, mere background music in movies became part of pop culture--an expression of sophistication and wit with a modern sense of cool and a lasting lyricism that has not dated. The first comprehensive study of Mancini's music, Henry Mancini: Reinventing Film Music describes how the composer served as a bridge between the Big Band period of World War II and the impatient eclecticism of the Baby Boomer generation, between the grand formal orchestral film scores of the past and a modern American minimalist approach. Mancini's sound seemed to capture the bright, confident, welcoming voice of the middle class's new efficient life: interested in pop songs and jazz, in movie and television, in outreach politics but also conventional stay-at-home comforts. As John Caps shows, Mancini easily combined it all in his music._x000B__x000B_Mancini wielded influence in Hollywood and around the world with his iconic scores: dynamic jazz for the noirish detective TV show Peter Gunn, the sly theme from The Pink Panther, and his wistful folk song "Moon River" from Breakfast at Tiffany's. Through insightful close readings of key films, Caps traces Mancini's collaborations with important directors and shows how he homed in on specific dramatic or comic aspects of the film to create musical effects through clever instrumentation, eloquent musical gestures, and meaningful resonances and continuities in his scores. Accessible and engaging, this fresh view of Mancini's oeuvre and influence will delight and inform fans of film and popular music.
Bob Dylan’s Road from Minnesota to the World
Memoirs of a Babe in Toyland
Babes in Toyland burst onto the Minneapolis music scene in the late 1980s and quickly established itself at the forefront of punk/alternative rock. The all-female trio featured a shy, seventeen-year-old Jewish teen from the suburbs on bass guitar—an instrument she had never played before joining the band. Over the next few years, Michelle Leon lived the rock-and-roll lifestyle—playing live concerts, recording in studios, touring across the United States and Europe, and spending endless hours in stuffy vans, staying in two-star motels, and sleeping on strangers’ couches in town after town. The grind and drama of life in the band gradually wore on Leon, however, and a heartbreaking tragedy led her to rethink her commitment to the band and the music scene. Leon’s sensitive, sensory prose puts readers right on stage with Babes in Toyland while also conveying the uncertainty, vulnerability, and courage needed by a girl who never felt like she fit in to somehow find her place in the world.
The Songwriting Legacy of Townes Van Zandt
The writer of such influential songs as “Pancho and Lefty,” “To Live’s to Fly,” “If I Needed You,” and “For the Sake of the Song,” Townes Van Zandt exerted an influence on at least two generations of Texas musicians that belies his relatively brief, deeply troubled life. Indeed, Van Zandt has influenced millions worldwide in the years since his death, and his impact is growing rapidly. Respected singer/songwriter John Gorka speaks for many when he says, “‘Pancho and Lefty’ changed—it unchained—my idea of what a song could be.” In this tightly woven, intelligently written book, Brian T. Atkinson interviews both well-known musicians and up-and-coming artists to reveal, in the performers’ own words, how their creative careers have been shaped by the life and work of Townes Van Zandt. Kris Kristofferson, Guy Clark, Billy Joe Shaver, Rodney Crowell, Lucinda Williams, and Lyle Lovett are just a few of the established musicians who share their impressions of the breathtakingly beautiful tunes and lyrics he created, along with their humorous, poignant, painful, and indelible memories of witnessing Van Zandt’s rise and fall. Atkinson balances the reminiscences of seasoned veterans with the observations of relative newcomers to the international music scene, such as Jim James (My Morning Jacket), Josh Ritter, and Scott Avett (the Avett Brothers), presenting a nuanced view of Van Zandt’s singular body of work, his reckless lifestyle, and his long-lasting influence. Forewords by “Cowboy” Jack Clement and longtime Van Zandt manager and friend Harold F. Eggers Jr. open the book, and each chapter begins with an introduction in which Atkinson provides context and background, linking each interviewee to Van Zandt’s legacy. Historians, students, and fans of all music from country and folk to rock and grunge will find new insights and recall familiar pleasures as they read I’ll Be Here in the Morning: The Songwriting Legacy of Townes Van Zandt.
On the Road with Legends of Rock 'n' Roll
In the years that followed, the Upsetters became the backing band for Sam Cooke and crisscrossed the country as the go-to-band for revue-style tours featuring James Brown, Gladys Knight and the Pips, the Supremes, Jackie Wilson, Little Willie John, and Etta James.
In I’ve Been Out There, the Houston blues and R&B legend Grady Gaines speaks candidly about his sixty-year music career and life on the road supporting some of the biggest names in blues, soul, and R&B. This annotated autobiographical account details Gaines's professional triumphs and personal sacrifices.
The book contains anecdotes about life on the road and in the studio during a period when the entertainment industry was vastly different, affording readers a glimpse into the creative makeup of a man whose distinctive sax playing powered some of the most popular songs of the era, helped define the genre, and mesmerized countless audiences.
The Autobiography of Hawaii's Gabe Baltazar Jr.
Romantic Master Pianist
Allan Evans's groundbreaking biography of Ignaz Friedman gives the reader the behind and the between of the life and career of this extraordinary pianist. Friedman's repertory emphasized the major works of Beethoven, Schumann, Liszt, and Brahms, but he was perhaps best known for his interpretation of the Chopin mazurkas, which by all accounts he played with the same rhythmic nuance as their composer. Evans examines Friedman's life as a cultured Jewish musician from Poland; his studies in Leipzig and Vienna; his marriage to Manya Schidlowsky -- a Russian countess and relative of Tolstoy; and his performing career, teaching, and retirement in Australia.
Giacomo Puccini is one of the most frequently performed and best loved of all operatic composers. In Il Trittico, Turandot, and Puccini's Late Style, Andrew Davis takes on the subject of Puccini's last two works to better understand how the composer creates meaning through the juxtaposition of the conventional and the unfamiliar -- situating Puccini in past operatic traditions and modern European musical theater. Davis asserts that hearing Puccini's late works within the context of la solita forma allows listeners to interpret the composer's expressive strategies. He examines Puccini's compositional language, with insightful analyses of melody, orchestration, harmony, voice-leading, and rhythm and meter.