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An Operatic Journey
Lotfi Mansouri has lived a full life in opera: triumphs and near disasters, divas and divos, moneymen and true artists, he has known them all. In this entertaining and engaging memoir, Mansouri lifts the curtain and invites the reader to see how magic is created on stage. He has lived a storied life: early years in Iran, move to America, long stays in Europe and Canada, directing tasks on several continents, and a brilliant final act as the general director of the San Francisco Opera, all the while continuing to mount productions worldwide. He has known virtually everybody in the opera world over the past fifty years, and has collaborated with some of the greatest. Mansouri was also a central figure in the recent rejuvenation of opera through innovations such as supertitles and, perhaps more important, the staging and commissioning of new works that would appeal to a contemporary audience, such as SFO's production of The Death of Klinghoffer, A Streetcar Named Desire, and Dead Man Walking. Mansouri isn't shy about dropping names and bruising some egos (even his own). Anyone who wants to know what the opera world is really like can now find out in the company of a charming and expert guide.
Music's inclusivity--its potential to unite cultures, disciplines, and individuals--defined the life and career of Lou Harrison (1917-2003). Beyond studying with leading composers of the avant-garde such as Henry Cowell and Arnold Schoenberg, conducting Charles Ives's Pulitzer Prize-winning Third Symphony, and staging high-profile percussion concerts with John Cage, Harrison has achieved fame for his distinctive blending of cultures--from the Chinese opera, Indonesian gamelan, and the music of Native Americans to modernist dissonant counterpoint. Miller and Lieberman also pull readers into Harrison's rich world of cross-fertilization through an exploration of his outspoken stance on pacifism, gay rights, ecology, and respect for minorities--all of which directly impacted his musical works. Though Harrison was sometimes accused by contemporaries of "cultural appropriation," Miller and Lieberman's brisk study makes it clear why he is now lauded as an imaginative pioneer for his integration of Asian and Western musics, as well as for his work in the development of the percussion ensemble, his use of found and invented instruments, and his explorations of alternative tuning systems. Harrison's compositions are examined in detail through reference to an accompanying CD of representative recordings.
Noise, Visual Arts, and the Occult
Luigi Russolo (1885–1947)—painter, composer, builder of musical instruments, and first-hour member of the Italian Futurist movement—was a crucial figure in the evolution of twentieth-century aesthetics. As creator of the first systematic poetics of noise and inventor of what has been considered the first mechanical sound synthesizer, Russolo looms large in the development of twentieth-century music. In the first English language study of Russolo, Luciano Chessa emphasizes the futurist’s interest in the occult, showing it to be a leitmotif for his life and a foundation for his art of noises. Chessa shows that Russolo’s aesthetics of noise, and the machines he called the intonarumori, were intended to boost practitioners into higher states of spiritual consciousness. His analysis reveals a multifaceted man in whom the drive to keep up with the latest scientific trends coexisted with an embrace of the irrational, and a critique of materialism and positivism.
Charles Ives, the Nostalgic Rebel
Mad Music is the story of Charles Edward Ives (1874-1954), the innovative American composer who achieved international recognition, but only after he'd stopped making music. While many of his best works received little attention in his lifetime, Ives is now appreciated as perhaps the most important American composer of the twentieth century and father of the diverse lines of Aaron Copland and John Cage. Ives was also a famously wealthy crank who made millions in the insurance business and tried hard to establish a reputation as a crusty New Englander. To Stephen Budiansky, Ives's life story is a personification of America emerging as a world power: confident and successful, yet unsure of the role of art and culture in a modernizing nation. Though Ives steadfastly remained an outsider in many ways, his life and times inform us of subjects beyond music, including the mystic movement, progressive anticapitalism, and the initial hesitancy of turn-of-the-century-America modernist intellectuals. Deeply researched and elegantly written, this accessible biography tells a uniquely American story of a hidden genius, disparaged as a dilettante, who would shape the history of music in a profound way.
Making use of newly published letters--and previously undiscovered archival sources bearing on the longstanding mystery of Ives's health and creative decline--this absorbing volume provides a definitive look at the life and times of a true American original.
John Philip Sousa's Washington Years, 1854-1893
John Philip Sousa's mature career as the indomitable leader of the United States Marine Band and his own touring Sousa Band is well known, but the years leading up to his emergence as a celebrity have escaped serious attention. In this revealing biography, Patrick Warfield explains the making of the March King by documenting Sousa's early life and career. Covering the period 1854 to 1893, this study focuses on the community and training that created Sousa, exploring the musical life of late nineteenth-century Washington D.C. and Philadelphia as a context for Sousa's development. Warfield examines Sousa's wide-ranging experience composing, conducting, and performing in the theater, opera house, concert hall, and salons, as well as his leadership of the United States Marine Band and the later Sousa Band, early twentieth-century America's most famous and successful ensemble. Sousa composed not only marches during this period but also parlor, minstrel, and art songs; parade, concert, and medley marches; schottisches, waltzes, and polkas; and incidental music, operettas, and descriptive pieces. Warfield's examination of Sousa's output reveals a versatile composer much broader in stylistic range than the bandmaster extraordinaire remembered as the March King. Warfield presents the story of Sousa as a self-made business success, a gifted performer and composer who deftly capitalized on his talents to create one of the most entertaining, enduring figures in American music.
The Life of Alma Mahler
Of all the colorful figures on the twentieth-century European cultural scene, hardly anyone has provoked more polarity than Alma Schindler Mahler Gropius Werfel (1879–1964), mistress to a long succession of brilliant men and wife of three of the best known: composer Gustav Mahler, architect Walter Gropius and writer Franz Werfel. To her admirers Alma was a self-sacrificing socialite who inspired many great artists. Her detractors found her a self-aggrandizing social climber and an alcoholic, bigoted, vengeful harlot—as one contemporary put it, “a cross between a grande dame and a cesspool.”
So who was she really? When historian Oliver Hilmes discovered a treasure-trove of unpublished material, much of it in Alma’s own words, he used it as the basis for his first biography, setting the record straight while evoking the atmosphere of intellectual life in Europe and then in émigré communities on both coasts of the United States after the Nazi takeover of their home territories. First published in German in 2004, the book was hailed as a rare combination of meticulously researched scholarship and entertaining writing, making it a runaway bestseller and advancing Oliver Hilmes to his position as a household name in contemporary literature.
Alma Mahler was one of the twentieth century’s rare originals, worthy of her immortalization in song. Oliver Hilmes has provided us with an even-handed yet tantalizingly detailed account of her life, bringing Alma’s singular story to a whole new audience.
Selected Writings of Helmut Kallmann
Mapping Canada’s Music is a selection of writings by the late Canadian music librarian and historian Helmut Kallmann (1922–2012). Most of the essays deal with aspects of Canadian music, but some are also autobiographical, including one written during retirement in which Kallmann recalls growing up in a middle-class Jewish family in 1930s Berlin under the spectre of Nazism.
Of the seventeen selected writings by Kallmann, five have never before been published; many of the others are from difficult-to-locate sources. They include critical and research essays, reports, reflections, and memoirs. Each chapter is prefaced with an introduction by the editors. Two initial chapters offer a biography of Kallmann and an assessment of his contributions to Canadian music.
The variety, breadth, and scope of these writings confirm Kallmann’s pioneering role in Canadian music research and the importance of his legacy to the cultural life of his adopted country. In the current climate of cuts to archival collections and services, the publication of these essays by and about a pre-eminent collector and historian serves as a timely reminder of the importance of cultural memory.
This is the first full-length introduction to the life and works of significant American composer Marga Richter (born 1926), who has written more than one hundred works for orchestra, chamber ensemble, dance, opera, voice, chorus, piano, organ, and harpsichord. Still actively composing in her eighties, Richter is particularly known for her large-scale works performed by ensembles such as the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and for other pieces performed by prominent artists including pianist Menahem Pressler, conductor Izler Solomon, and violinist Daniel Heifetz. _x000B__x000B_Interspersing consideration of Richter's musical works with discussion of her life, her musical style, and the origins and performances of her works, Sharon Mirchandani documents a successful composer's professional and private life throughout the twentieth century. Mirchandani covers Richter's formative years, her influences, and the phases of her career from the 1950s to the present. Drawing extensively on interviews with the composer, Mirchandani also provides detailed descriptions of Richter's scores and uses reviews and other secondary sources to provide contexts for her works, including their relationship to modern dance, to other musical styles, and to 1970s feminism._x000B_
Described by New York Times critic John Rockwell as "one of the best non-famous composers this country has to offer," Ben Johnston reconceives familiar idioms--ranging from neoclassicism and serialism to jazz and southern hymnody--using just intonation. Johnston studied with Darius Milhaud, Harry Partch, and John Cage, and is best known for his String Quartet No. 4, a complex series of variations on Amazing Grace. This collection of Johnston's writings spans his whole career and shows him to be a truly literate composer who writes about music, his own and that of others, with eloquence and charm. _x000B__x000B_"Maximum Clarity" and Other Writings on Music spans forty years and brings together forty-one of Johnston's most important writings, including many rare and several previously unpublished selections. They include position papers, theoretical treatises, program notes, historical reflections, lectures, excerpts from interviews, and letters, and they cover a broad spectrum of concerns--from the technical exegesis of microtonality to the personal and the broadly humanistic. The volume concludes with a discography of all commercially available recordings of Johnston's music.
Throughout his prolific career, John Mellencamp has performed more than twenty Top 40 hits, has been nominated for thirteen Grammy Awards, and has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Hits like "Jack and Diane," "Small Town," and "Cherry Bomb" are iconic American songs that have played an important role in defining midwestern music and developing the rock genre. Despite his critical and commercial success, however, the rough guy from a small town writing songs about everything he "learned about living" is often omitted from the ranks of America's songwriting elite.
In Mellencamp, David Masciotra explores the life and career of one of America's most important and underrated songwriters, persuasively arguing that he deserves to be celebrated alongside artists like Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, and Bob Dylan. Beginning with his modest beginnings in Seymour, Indiana, Masciotra details Mellencamp's road to fame, examining his struggles with the music industry and his persistent dedication to his midwestern roots. Shaking off the shortsighted "regionalist" stereotype and dismissing his assumed pop-star persona, Mellencamp found success by remaining true to where he came from.
This thoughtful analysis highlights four decades of the artist's music, which has consistently elevated the dignity of everyday people and honored the quiet heroism of raising families and working hard. This first serious biography of the legendary musician will charm fans and music enthusiasts who are interested in the development of roots rock and Americana music.