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Any mentions yet of Wilhelm von Lenz's The Piano Virtuosos of Our Time? It's a great little read, full of humor and great anecdotes, chiefly about Liszt, Chopin, Tausig and Henselt. Lenz of course knew them all.

Likewise the Gottschalk (sp?) memoirs are a pretty insightful read.
 

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Schubert Songs - A Biographical Study by the great Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau has been my favorite sketch of the composer and his most returned-to form. The works that are considered minor by Dieskau don't receive much attention, unless their back story warrants the attention. But as long as one trusts the author/interpretor and his value on each song, you'll stay consistently interested. Fischer-Dieskau gives notes on performance, places specific songs in context of the time they were written, as well as their place in posterity. He compares Schubert's settings to those of other composers and gives a plenty of anecdotes of both larger, historical interest, as well as the impact they had in Schubert's own circle. An invaluable and eternally interesting read. I found much quiet entertainment listening to the singer's interpretation while reading his impetus behind it.
 

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Just wanted to alert people to the fact that amazon.co.uk is currently offering the Tippett biography in hardback for considerably less than a tenner. I paid £8.77 postage-paid for next-day delivery of a brand-new copy, but it's available for even less than that from other sellers (but with postage costs, so it's all a bit of a wash). Seems cheap to me, though, given it's normal list price of £25 or more.
 

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After years of resisting streaming services, I recently subscribed to Spotify. In these modern times, despite all my reservations, it looks like a great resource. Despite reading books, forums, blogs, and magazines—online and print—I was missing a lot it seems.

I went to Spotify to hear Mozart's K.356, Adagio for Glass Harmonica in C Major, and it puts me down in the middle of a multi-CD album, The Life and Works of Mozart, by Jeremy Siepmann, on Naxos. It seems Siepmann did a whole series of these audiobooks released about 2001 to 2005.

I have listened to "Mozart" and am now part way into "Beethoven". I am really impressed. Most of my previous experience with this sort of thing has been Robert Greenberg's Great Courses, formerly The Teaching Company, lectures. The Siepmann series are quite different. He is not a composer like Greenberg but his knowledge and perspectives are spot on. There is more of a tendency to present complete movements and Siepmann is witty and entertaining. He has the big broadcaster's voice and has found outstanding actors to read the composers' quotes.

I am very surprised I never heard of this series and it has received so little mention on talkclassical. I would highly recommend it to anyone wanting to learn more about a composer and their works. I haven't listened to any of his series beyond "The Life and Works" sets but I see "Classics Explained" albums dedicated to individual works like Beethoven's Sixth, and Brahmns' Piano Concerto No. 2.

A begrudged thank you to Spotify, I guess.
 

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Thank you I did not know this! I actually discussed Beethoven with him at a public talk&concert in NYC, he is incredibly knowledgeable and humble at that. Will order this book right away.
Let us know if it was as good as your expectations?
 

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I'm about halfway through Susan McClary's Modal Subjectivities: Self-Fashioning in the Italian Madrigal, and it's fair to say it's 'blowing my mind'. Her analyses, which are grounded in musicological rigor but not afraid to bring in sociocultural arguments as well, are just so lucid and compelling. Madrigals go so much farther than the cliche 'madrigalisms' that it may even be fair to say that 'madrigalisms' represent a small and insignificant portion of how madrigals work and what they are doing... Has anyone else read this? Does anyone have any other good books on madrigals or earlier modal forms?
 

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Peter Schmelz is an associate prof at Arizona State specializing in the Soviet "Thaw" composers of the '60s and beyond. Such Freedom is the best (only?) overview of the immediate post-Stalin scene, which saw the emergence of an underground that gave rise to Part, Schnittke, Gubaidulina, Denisov, et. al. It is very readable for general readers despite the academic pedigree (published by Oxford). Also a book on Schnittke's Concerto Grosso No. 1 (Oxford as well) that is the most insightful account of Schnittke's music I've read. Looking forward to Schmelz's next, which looks at polystylism in Schnittke's and Silvestrov's more mature work.
 

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After years of resisting streaming services, I recently subscribed to Spotify. In these modern times, despite all my reservations, it looks like a great resource. Despite reading books, forums, blogs, and magazines-online and print-I was missing a lot it seems.

I went to Spotify to hear Mozart's K.356, Adagio for Glass Harmonica in C Major, and it puts me down in the middle of a multi-CD album, The Life and Works of Mozart, by Jeremy Siepmann, on Naxos. It seems Siepmann did a whole series of these audiobooks released about 2001 to 2005.

I have listened to "Mozart" and am now part way into "Beethoven". I am really impressed. Most of my previous experience with this sort of thing has been Robert Greenberg's Great Courses, formerly The Teaching Company, lectures. The Siepmann series are quite different. He is not a composer like Greenberg but his knowledge and perspectives are spot on. There is more of a tendency to present complete movements and Siepmann is witty and entertaining. He has the big broadcaster's voice and has found outstanding actors to read the composers' quotes.

I am very surprised I never heard of this series and it has received so little mention on talkclassical. I would highly recommend it to anyone wanting to learn more about a composer and their works. I haven't listened to any of his series beyond "The Life and Works" sets but I see "Classics Explained" albums dedicated to individual works like Beethoven's Sixth, and Brahmns' Piano Concerto No. 2.

A begrudged thank you to Spotify, I guess.
I listened to all of the Siepmann Life and Works on Spotify. They were all very good. At home I still listen to go vinyl. I use Spotify when on the road. Lately, however, I've been using Primephonic, which is a streaming app like Spotify, but one that is exclusively for classical music lovers. As such, it is a lot better than Spotify. Its classical library is enormous compared to Spotify. If you mainly use Spotify for classical, I would definitely look into Primephonic. I'm still buying it by the month but I've decided to get a year subscription, I just haven't but the bullet yet.
 

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Some more book recommendations:
The Messiaen Companion by Peter Hill and Nigel Simeone (biography)
Michael Tippett: The Biography by Oliver Soden (biography)
Behind Bars by Elaine Gould (I guess this would probably go under composition)
Flûtes au Present by Jean-Yves Artaud (under instrument-specific, it's in French but also has a ton of useful multiphonic fingerings and other technical stuff)
The Techniques of Saxophone Playing by Marcus Weiss and Giorgio Netti (instrument specific)
The Contemporary Violin by Patricia Strange and Allen Strange (instrument specific)
Instrumentation and Orchestration by Alfred Blatter (theory and composition)
 

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Finishing this one soon. It's library copy. Still looking for a copy at a decent price. Highly Recommended.



The Letters of C.P.E. Bach, Translated and Edited by Stephen L. Clark (1997, Clarendon Press)

 
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