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Double Life Hardcover – October, 1989

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Like all classical composers, the young Rozsa faced the problem of how to make a living writing serious music. At the suggestion of famed French composer Arthur Honegger, he turned to film music, and thus began a "double life." Well-known for his movie scores, including Spellbound , The Lost Weekend , The Thief of Baghdad and Ben-Hur , Rozsa has also written numerous classical works that have been performed by major orchestras the world over. In this serviceable, straightforward autobiography he chronicles his rise to success, from his childhood in a small Hungarian town to the film studios of Hollywood. He tells an uncomplicated tale of a life of accomplishment, filled with reminiscences of his friendships with the rich and famous. Now in his 80s, Rozsa looks back with justifiable satisfaction on a career in which he has composed in two styles without compromising either. Illustrations not seen by PW.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Wynwood Pr (October 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0922066175
  • ISBN-13: 978-0922066179
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #215,352 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Avram Hern on May 19, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Miklos Rozsa, Hungarian-born composer (1907-1995), confesses in these pages that he never much liked the cinema, though somehow, he almost effortlessly managed to enrich it with an endless flow of melodies, at turns romantic, spine-chilling, or thrilling. All his music derived from the Magyar folk songs he sought and catalogued in his youth, and this grounding enabled him to do something which few of his contemporaries understood -- and which almost none of the current crop of "film composers" understand: how to tell a dramatic story in music, a third level beyond the images and words we typically think of as being the sum of the "talking motion picture." Rozsa's first love was his so-called "absolute music," that written for the concert hall (which includes his Violin Concerto in D, Op. 24, one of the 20th Century's most ravishingly beautiful compositions); his work for Hollywood's major film studios merely paid the bills, so he claimed, allowing him the luxury of writing personal music without having to starve for the privilege, as have many talented composers and artists before and since. Though Rozsa remained resolutely Old World, with Hungarian his first language, his is an engaging memoir of the long-gone feudal kingdoms, princes and foot-soldiers of Hollywood's Golden Age, whose walls he entered and paths he crossed, inluding producers Alexander Korda and David O. Selznick, actors Burt Lancaster and Elizabeth Taylor, and directors Fritz Lang, Billy Wilder and William Wyler...as well as memorable names -- some infamous -- outside the worlds of music and film, such as Aldous Huxley, Pope Pius XII, and even Adolf Hitler. "A Double Life" is, in all, a valuable document of a thoughtful man's life and the fascinating world he inhabited.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lou B. on August 14, 2011
Format: Hardcover
who ever lived. Miklos Rozsa was, like my late father, a Hungarian proud of his heritage and this may be a small part of why he has always been one of my favorite composers.
But it was the man's music that truly moves me. There is no doubt that his first love was writing music for the
concert hall and even while its true he may not have liked Hollywood he certainly gave it a greatness it would not
have had were it not for him. When I saw the first edition of his book I read it hungrily and was captivated by his
sense of humor and candor. The many anecdotes he presents to us are full of humor and warmth and he mentions some of his film scoring colleagues (Franz Waxman, Bernard Herrmann, and Jerry Goldsmith) with affection and respect---some of the funniest stories center on the cantankerous Herrmann---as well as some world famous musicians that he either met or worked with. People like Bruno Walter, Bela Bartok, Eugene Ormandy, Jascha Heifetz, Igor Stravinsky and others are a virtual who's who of the great musicians of the world and all with their own little story.
Needless to say this is one of the few books I will never part with. I first became aware of Rozsa through his film music which natrally led me to his concert works which shows that his film work was an extension of his own personal style. Miklos Rozsa wrote lasting and important, vital music that deserves to survive. And his own definition of what music is probably the best summation I've ever read. A great book written by a great man.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Carmelo Galea on September 16, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I learned a lot about Miklos Rozsa's film music career that I did not know before. I'm referring to the initial stages of his life in film music, to achieving the highest in this field. It shows Dr Rozsa as a humble person, though resolute in his beliefs. There is a bit of humour in this book too, also thanks to Dr Rozsa, who I suppose makes him even more a down to earth person.
I have once written to Dr Rozsa back in 1970, and to my surpise I received a reply back, very quickly, in his own handwriting. I am of course very proud of being one of the people that actually received correspondence from the Supremo himself.
All in all, a wonderful book, which I could not stop reading. Showed me how such a famous man, perhaps the most famous of film music composers, can be also humble and have a sense of homour.
Of course there is another side of Dr Rozsa, that of his symphonic works (reason of Double Life book title). I am not familiar with the works of this other side of his life, though I am sure it is very important.
Thank you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By mac on October 7, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was doing some research on the composer, Miklos Rozsa. He is known for his film work on epics like Ben Hur, Quo Vadis, El Cid to name a few of the movies he scored, and he also was a serious concert composer. He came to America before WWII with the Korda brothers and became one of the great Hollywood movie composers. His book, "Double Life" is a great account of his career in film & and the concert hall. A very enjoyable read for me. Besides biblical or epic, historical pictures, he also scored some American film noir movies in the 40's. He also wrote a great score for the remake by Korda of "The Thief of Bagdad." His life story added to my knowledge of 20th century music. He was familar with the great composers & conductors of his time. He also left us some great film scores that are timeless.
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