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Rubinstein: A Life Hardcover – October 19, 1995

4.7 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Pianist Arthur Rubinstein (1887-1982), apart from being a world-renowned performer for more than 65 years, also wrote a bestselling autobiography, My Young Years. Sachs, author of an admired study of Toscanini, is therefore up against formidable competition?and comes out of it with great credit. His study is detailed, fair-minded and vivid. Rubinstein was vastly egocentric in his private life, yet appeared genuinely transformed by his music-making, which seemed often to come across better on recordings than in person and helped make him the bestselling classical pianist ever. A tireless womanizer, he was middle-aged before he married a woman 22 years his junior and had children. In the last decade of his life, he began a liaison with a young English concert promoter, Annabelle Whitestone (now married to British publisher Sir George Weidenfeld). Rubinstein seems never to have overcome his sad childhood, but the pleasure he gave and continues to give to millions was his true legacy. The book includes an outstanding review, by the author, of Rubinstein's recordings and a fine discography by Donald Manildi. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

For decades people who were fortunate enough to see and hear esteemed pianist Artur Rubinstein (1887-1982) perform left concert halls spellbound. Rubinstein went for the soul of the audience as he wrapped his soaring and spirited playing around each listener. His magnificent interpretation of Chopin remains without equal. Biographer and music historian Sachs (Toscanini, LJ 11/1/78; Music in Fascist Italy, Norton, 1988. o.p.) first heard Rubinstein play in 1959, but it was not until 1986 that he seriously considered writing a biography of Rubinstein. Not having primary source material from the musician's first 53 years was an obstacle (Rubenstein's papers were destroyed or lost when the Germans occupied his house during the war), but Sachs had the full cooperation of Rubinstein's wife, Nela, and access to a huge amount of source material that had accumulated after the Rubinsteins came to the United States. Since in his memoirs (My Young Years, LJ 2/15/73. o.p., and My Many Years, LJ 1/15/80. o.p.) Rubinstein occasionally changed some dates and facts, Sachs realized an added necessity of thoroughness in his research. The resultant biography is definitive and belongs on the shelf alongside those memoirs. Recommended for music collections in both public and academic libraries.
Kathleen Sparkman, Baylor Univ., Waco, Tex.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; 1st edition (October 19, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802115799
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802115799
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.8 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #928,373 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
Arthur Rubinstein (1887-1982) was a complicated man. His two-volume autobiography was an interesting read, but only revealed the portions of the pianist's life which he wanted known, was filled with numerous omissions and errors, contained a great deal of petty score settling (his comments about Heifetz, Schnabel and Horowitz were especially cutting), and remarkably little discussion of music.
Harvey Sachs, whose acclaimed biography of Arturo Toscanini is required reading for all musicians, has produced a meticulously researched and balanced look at the pianist's life and music.
As Sachs recounts Rubinstein's unusual childhood and early musical progress, it's clear that the pianist's early years (he left his parents before adolescence) set a pattern of devotion and abandonment which would scar his entire life.
Rubinstein had difficult relations with his entire family, particularly his wife and children. His eldest son had no communication with his father from 1969 onward, and in 1976, at the age of 89, Rubinstein left Nela, his wife of 44 years, for a woman young enough to be his granddaughter. In a sense, Rubinstein considered his adoring public to be his family, and when his biological family was not equally adoring, the pianist's reaction could be volcanic (he once loudly castigated his son, Paul--who was ill--for dozing in the green room during one of his concerts). The book reveals a man who was fundamentally generous (in 1960, he gave a series of ten recitals entirely for charity), but highly insecure, obsessed with position, and always needing to be at the center of attention-onstage or off.
Sachs has reconciled the frequent errors in Rubinstein's memoirs with regard to names, dates, and events. He also interviewed nearly everyone still alive who knew Rubinstein.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Those of you who would like an insight into artur rubinstein's life apart from his autobiographies, this is an excellent book with photographs included.Also there is a lot of information written which rubinstein himself didn't include in his autobiographies A great book of one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century. A must read for all music lovers.
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Format: Hardcover
A well written book on one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century.
However, I prefer Rubinsteins autobiographies, they are filled with life and humour.
Quel bon viveur. We miss people with such charm and charisma today!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Fascinating biography of a tortured artist.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
very good ---pleased with book
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