Reading list, May 2017

Posted on: June 1, 2017

Amadeus Press has published Gerard Schwarz’s Behind the Baton: An American Icon Talks Music (375 pp., $27.99). Co-authored with journalist Maxine Frost, the book is a wide-ranging biography of Schwarz’s life and career as trumpeter, conductor, festival director, and more. Among the book’s chapters are “Freelance Trumpet Playing,” “Mostly Mozart,” “Waterloo Music Festival,” “The Seattle Years,” “The Eastern Music Festival,” and “The All-Star Orchestra.” Included are an index, 36 pages of photos, and two appendixes listing Schwarz’s awards and recordings. Jan Swafford’s Language of the Spirit: An Introduction to Classical Music has been released by Basic Books (331 pp., $28). Swafford’s latest work is intended for a general reader and is “not a scholarly work,” he notes, unlike his previously published biographies of Beethoven, Brahms, and Charles Ives. Five parts cover “Music from the Beginning” (up through 1600); a section apiece on the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic periods; and “Modernism and Beyond,” which covers everyone from Debussy and Ravel to Arnold Schoenberg and György Ligeti. Listening recommendations are provided for each musical era, and the book includes an index and suggestions for further reading. Stuart Isacoff’s When the World Stopped to Listen: Van Cliburn’s Cold War Triumph and Its Aftermath has been published by Alfred A. Knopf (290 pp., $27.95). Isacoff, a pianist, writer, and founder/editor of Piano Today magazine, takes an in-depth look at the year 1958, when American pianist Van Cliburn unexpectedly won the Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition in Moscow. Included are a bibliography, index, and sixteen pages of black-and-white photos of Cliburn at home and abroad, including fans and flower-strewn stages in Moscow at the height of his fame there. University of Chicago Press has published Stewart Spencer’s English translation of Beethoven’s Symphonies: Nine Approaches to Art and Ideas (197 pp., $26) by Martin Geck, a professor emeritus of musicology at Germany’s Technical University of Dortmund. Topics covered in the book’s first two sections range from Napoleon themes in the Third (“Eroica”) Symphony, the composer’s use of forte and sforzato markings, and the meaning behind the “outbursts of violence” in Beethoven symphonies. The third section consists of ten pages of combined history and analysis for each of the nine symphonies.

Posted June 1, 2017