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Books on Classical Music & Opera

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Nicolai Gedda My Life & Art

Translated by TOM GEDDES

This autobiography is the first full-length book in English on Nicolai Gedda, born in Sweden in 1925 but deeply influenced by his Russian father, a member of the Kuban Don Cossack Choir. A leading tenor throughout the latter half of the 20th century, Gedda was acclaimed both for the beauty of his voice and the rare intelligence with which he used it; he was perhaps the most versatile of tenors, equally at home in opera and song, and the master of nine languages, and a wide range of musical styles. His repertoire included more than sixty roles, plus a large body of oratorios, and he made more than 200 recordings. His final operatic appearance was at Covent Garden in 1997, but he still gives occasional recitals. These memoirs, written in collaboration with his wife, comment frankly on the events of his life and on the international music scene, revealing both his serious devotion to his art and his indifference to fame and celebrity. They also include anecdotes and reflections on a variety of subjects, from literature and film to marriage and parenting, in addition to musical matters.

Lily Pons A Centennial Portrait

Edited by James A. Drake and Kristan Beall Ludecke

Foreword by Beverley Sills

The popular opera star Lily Pons (1898-1976) was the reigning coloratura at the Metropolitan Opera from 1931 to 1959. Born in France she made her debut there before going on to an international career that included several Hollywood films. She was as beautiful and charming as she was talented, which combination made her a true celebrity. James Drake, author of two biographies of Rosa Ponselle, and Kristen Beall Ludecke, herself a coloratura soprano, have created a portrait of the gifted and glamorous Pons through her own words and those of key opera historians. Ludecke and her family own the Lily Pons Collection which encompasses the diva's photographic archives, scrapbooks and other memorabilia; many of these rare photographs are appearing for the first time in this book

Mario Lanza Tenor In Exile

Roland L Bessette

Over 40 years after his premature death, the mystique of Mario Lanza continues. He remains a legendary figure, a crossover icon embraced and remembered by an entire generation for bridging the gap Owen popular and classical music. The acknowledged inspiration of today's Three Tenors, Lanza introduced the operatic and Neapolitan repertoire to a wide and adoring audience, with - as José Carreras put it - a "glorious, ringing tenor, that .... was his and his alone."

He was born Alfred Arnold Cocozza in South Philadelphia where his youth foreshadowed the promise and the problems of his brief life. Undisciplined and self-indulgent, he was spoiled by his adoring parents - and set apart by the natural gift of his voice. His musical training was sporadic but sufficient: he sang for Serge Koussevitzky at the age of 19, and the notoriously demanding conductor immediately arranged for the young Italian-American to sing at Tanglewood.

Opera In Context

Essays on Historical Staging from the Late Renaissance to the Times of Puccini

Edited by Mark A. Radice

Until quite recently, most composers of opera wrote their works with specific circumstances in mind, with direct knowledge of the singers, dancers and musicians who would perform them, as well as of the characteristics and features of the theatres in which they would be staged.

These essays by respected scholars examine representative operatic productions from diverse national schools and periods - from Purcell to Mozart, Verdi, Wagner and Puccini. Historical performance practice and other musical matters are considered as well as the elements of stagecraft including scenery, costumes and lighting

410 pp, 14 tables 75 b/w photos - hardcover

A Pianist's Landscape

Carol Montparker

These perceptive essays explore the author's life as a pianist - practising, performing, teaching and writing - but they reflect the experience of any artist. With humour and warmth, the essays tell of quiet domestic delights, the frustrations of performing on poor instruments in cold halls, the satisfactions of sharing one's understanding of a favourite piece with an eager student, and unforgettable encounters with great pianists such as Rubenstein, Gould, Arrau and Cherkassky.

How To Be Tremendously Tuned In To Opera

Edited by E.O. Parrott : Foreword by Jeremy Isaacs

Whether you are an opera buff or one of the incognoscenti, this delightful collection of parodies, satires and pastiches will inform and enlighten you about all aspects of the art form.

Learn, for example, to deduce the plot of Turandot from the curtain call; read what the Italian police had to say about Tosca and discover Jane Austen's view of Il Seraglio. Here is a poem that John Betjeman may have written about a visit to Glyndebourne, several new libretti for Gilbert and Sullivan and a song against operas as G.K. Chesterton might have composed it.

If you would like to become familiar with a large number of operas without the customary exertion or cost, this sparkling and witty anthology is just what the doctor ordered.

Unfortunately, this book is now out of print although you may be able to find it in the "out-of-print" section of on-line bookstores

The Musical From the Inside Out

Stephen Citron

Part anecdote, part text book, part practical advice from those who have been there, THE MUSICAL is required reading for professional or amateur involved in the creation of a musical. It will also fascinate the aficionado who would enjoy being witness to the unbelievable drama that producing a musical for Broadway or the West End implies.

In THE MUSICAL from the Inside Out, Stephen Citron examines the musical from the creator's point of view, from basic training through to finding and securing material, writing the libretto, adding the songs, auditioning, work-shopping, rehearsals, previews and the excitement of the first night, to reveal the secrets of success as well as the attendant pitfalls of failure.

Including hitherto unpublished interviews with well known directors, producers, lyricists, composers, librettists, stage managers, scenic artists and comments from musical luminaries such as Stephen Sondheim, John Kander and Fred Ebb, Jerry Herman, Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Hal Prince and Jerome Robbins, THE MUSICAL answers at the same time all the questions anyone may have about one of the major theatrical forms of the twentieth century.

Gerard Hoffnung


Annetta Hoffnung : Foreword by Peter Ustinov

Gerard Hoffnung, creator of the inspired lunacy of the Hoffnung Interplanetary Music Festivals, witty cartoonist of the foibles of musicians and cats, inimitable raconteur, and passionate devotee of the tuba, died at the tragically young age of 34. This book is a tribute to his life and art, written by his widow, Annetta. A delightful sketch of Hoffnung's life from his boyhood in Nazi Germany through his school days in England to his working career, the book is illustrated with his own drawings and other memorabilia, making it a wonderful introduction to this light-hearted genius.

 "Written with heartwarming simplicity . . . the Hoffnung biography reveals . . . a man who was just as lovable, eccentric, and joyous as his drawings and concerts had led us to believe." Symphony Magazine

0-931340-73-X, 176 pages, 38 color illustrations, 101 b/w illustrations, 52 b/w photos, 7 x 10", paperback © 1994

Musical Prodigies: Perilous Journeys, Remarkable Lives

by Claude Kenneson

with a foreword by Van Cliburn

What must it be like to start composing music at age two and create an opera at age ten as Samuel Barber did? Or to go deaf at age eight and yet become a world-renowned percussionist as Evelyn Glennie has? This is a celebration of the remarkable lives of forty-four musical prodigies from the eighteenth century to the present, including the amazing stories of Mozart and Paganini, Andrés Segovia and Samuel Barber, Van Cliburn and Ruggiero Ricci, Shauna Rolston and Yo-Yo Ma, to name only a few.

The author explores early family life, first teachers, the importance of peers, and the inevitable struggles for independence and acceptance as an adult musician. For some, the promise of childhood was borne out, the difficult passage through adolescence successfully weathered. For others, fate dealt a different hand. In a fascinating conclusion to the volume, Bejun Mehta offers an insider's view.

His is the remarkable story of a celebrated boy soprano who struggled to find his muse again after his voice changed. His insights illuminate many wondrous elements of the prodigy's experience. Parents and families of gifted children in all the arts will welcome these insights into the many wondrous elements of the prodigy's experience.

Claude Kenneson is a cellist and professor emeritus of the University of Alberta who has nurtured several prodigies among his own cello students. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta.

"It's beyond our imagination how fraught the journey can be," says Claude Kenneson. "These children belong half to the world of adults, half to the world of children. In view of the enormous gifts and fascinating abilities, there's almost no parent that isn't eager to see it happen. But they're sometimes badly informed how to carry out their role in nurturing this kind of child." David Patrick Stearns, USA Today, 6 April, 1999

1-57467-046-8, 386 pp, 33 b/w photos, 3 line drawings, 6 x 9", hardcover, ©1999