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Lost in the Stars: The Forgotten Musical Life of Alexander Siloti Hardcover – December 1, 2002

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Editorial Reviews


To most people who listen to and read about classical music, Siloti is at best a name in a footnote to a program note about his cousin Rachmaninoff. But an immense public force and presence in his great years, Siloti was a remarkable musician--pianist, conductor, composer, teacher, editor, impresario--whose life-path intersected with those of a multitude of characters from Liszt to Eugene Istomin by way of Tchaikovsky, all three piano-playing Rubinsteins, Elgar, Scriabin, Schoenberg, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Ysaÿe, and Casals, to list just a few of the most famous. Charles Barber, scrupulous researcher, intelligent interpreter, and commanding story-teller here does justice to an artist too long and unjustly obscured. (Michael Steinberg, musicologist)

Thanks to Dr. Charles Barber's amazing research we now can read the fascinating story of Alexander Siloti, one of the most important and influential musicians in pre-revolutionary Russia. Astonishingly he appears to have been entirely overlooked since that time. This book provides a wonderful insight into artistic life in St. Petersburg and the important influence on many famous names of the period by this remarkable polymath of a musician. Essential reading for anyone interested in Russian music and theatre. (Sir Charles Mackerras)

How extraordinarily wonderful that Charles Barber has been the musical-archeologist able to bring the great career and music of Alexander Siloti to light for all musicians. I, for one, am fascinated by Siloti and look forward to hearing his music and reading more about him. (Marilyn Horne)

Alexander Siloti was probably the greatest pianist who could have made records but didn't, and so his greatness has been forgotten. Charles Barber has made a heroic rescue effort, and if even he cannot bring back the lost sounds, he does offer the compensations of exhaustive research into Siloti's many-faceted career, a vivid store of descriptive quotes, and an irresistibly unabashed devotion to his subject. Regarded during his lifetime as the last link to a glorious past, Siloti regains that aura in these fascinating pages. (Professor Richard Taruskin)

I remember very well—during my student years at the Moscow Conservatory that the name Alexander Siloti was pronounced with the utmost reverence. His reputation as teacher, pianist, conductor and composer was legendary. I am very happy that there is now a well-researched book on this extraordinary musician. (Vladimir Ashkenazy)

A thorough study of Siloti and his accomplishments, as well as his life and times, involving as it does so many close relationships with the most important musicians from Liszt to Rachmaninoff, is long overdue. (Gray Graffman)

Alexander Siloti was one of my predecessors at the Kirov Marinsky Opera and one of Russia's greatest musicians. It is a tragedy that he has been forgotten. This new book is a wonderful contribution to our understanding of Siloti's life and work and the people in his orbit. If you want to understand music in St. Petersburg prior to 1917, read it. (Valery Gergiev)

A very well researched and well written, interesting and informative book which I truly enjoyed reading and would recommend to everybody who loves music. Although Alexander Ziloti had to leave Russia, his star always shone brightly for us there. Now that Charles Barber has rediscovered this star and introduced it to the musicians and music lovers in the West, I hope that they will always find inspiration in its beautiful and mysterious radiance. (Evgeny Kissin, pianist)

This is a fascinating book – as absorbing in its detail of Russian upper class life at the turn of the century as it is about the musical politics and rivalries of the great cities of St. Petersburg and Moscow. (Lyn Bronson American Music Teacher) important contribution to the legacy of Franz Liszt, Siloti's teacher and inspiration. Charles Barber has achieved something extraordinary in returning from oblivion the memory and artistry of Alexander Siloti. In short: highly recommended. (Gordon Rumson Music & Vision)

Of all the biographies resurrecting unfamiliar names from the musical past which have passed across my desk over the years, few have plugged such a yawning gap in our knowledge as this one . . . Barber tells the story persuasively, achieving a nice balance between erudition, concision and readability. (Classical Music)

New book of note. (Symphony)

An admirable attempt to recover from the past a shadowy figure, one whose historical importance in the musical life of Russia and later America must not be underestimated...Charles Barber marshals his information (two full pages of acknowledgments denote the magnitude of the task) with lucidity and a writing style that carries you forward, satisfying for the general reader equally as for academics. The book is a pleasure to handle... (Peter Grahame Woolf)

...opens [a new window] on the musical culture of the era....[Barber] succeeds in presenting the grand sweep of Siloti's life and Lost in the Stars is a fascinating read... (vol. 60 Notes)

About the Author

Charles Barber is a conductor active in concert, opera, and recordings. He has authored several articles on various subjects in conducting, and his teachers include George Corwin, Andor Toth, and Carlos Kleiber.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Scarecrow Press (December 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810841088
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810841086
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,450,567 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jim Fellows on July 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Why write a review of a book which Amazon lists as out of print and which is rarely available on the used market? Partly because there is no good reason for this book to be out of print. It belongs in any serious library of any size and in the collection of any musician interested in the history of music. Perhaps after reading this review you will help pester the publisher, who still lists the book as available, ("due to arrive at the warehouse within a few months" for several years now) to actually put the book back into circulation.

This 2002 biography of Siloti, titled "Lost in the Stars," was widely acclaimed by such musicians as Vladimir Ashkenazy, Evgeny Kissin, Valery Gergiev, and Marilyn Horne, to name just a few whose names appear on the jacket of the 2002 edition. Moreover, it is the only book written about Siloti. "Lost in the Stars" is so well researched, so complete, and so well written, that it is unlikely that any future work on Siloti could tell us more than Charles Barber already has. Barber arranged with Carl Fischer to simultaneously publish a collection of Siloti's forty surviving scores as "The Alexander Siloti Collection." That outstanding volume was still available at the time this review was written (see my Amazon review). Besides the scores, it contains some excerpts from Barber's biography and six photos.

Why would we care about Alexander Siloti (1863-1945)? Since most of us today haven't heard of Siloti it is hard for us to understand that one of the greatest musical figures of all times has vanished from our memory and our libraries. "Lost in the Stars" is both an enigmatic and accurate title for this volume. Barber provides a detailed and compelling look inside a man, a time, a family, and a city. With so much intimate detail about St.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 4, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I gave a copy of his book to a retired piano professor who studied at Julliard 50 years ago. At the old Julliard school before moving to the current location, there was a Siloti's statue. This book reminds us of a master in the golden age of piano era.He also thinks Barbagallo's CD is superb comparing to other two other big name recordings of Bach/Siloti transcriptions.

Please also consider Siloti's complete compositions for sale at There are many good pieces for you or your advanced children to play. Some of Bach's transcriptions are among best.
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