New books address orchestras’ role in society

Posted on: November 29, 2012

In Sunday’s (11/25) Philadelphia Inquirer, Peter Dobrin writes, “Would the symphony orchestra be better off if it somehow could be sequestered from such outside concerns as politics and money—the greatest idealization of humanity cut off from humanity itself? Such compartmentalization was not possible for Arturo Toscanini. On the day Hitler’s troops entered Vienna in 1938, the great Italian conductor stormed out of rehearsal with his NBC Symphony and into his dressing room. ‘There he barred the door to his family and friends,’ according to a story retold in Cesare Civetta’s recently released The Real Toscanini: Musicians Reveal the Maestro (Amadeus Press). … The political, free-associating liberated spirit [of Leonard Bernstein] comes through lyrically in Jonathan Cott’s Dinner With Lenny: The Last Long Interview With Leonard Bernstein (Oxford University Press), set for publication Jan. 8. The book grew out of a 12-hour visit to Bernstein’s Connecticut country home. … In The Orchestra: A Very Short Introduction by D. Kern Holoman (also from Oxford), you don’t hear the music as much as you sense the way it gets moved around by patrons, money, labor strife, and society at large. The title shortchanges the 158-page paperback’s scope, which is broad (if not always deep) and, by focusing on why and how the music we hear gets to the stage, perceptive.”

Posted November 29, 2012