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Stravinsky: The Second Exile: France and America, 1934-1971 Paperback – March 3, 2008

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 738 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (March 3, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520256158
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520256156
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,715,309 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In following Igor Stravinsky's journeys from Paris to America and from neoclassicism to serialism, critic and musicologist Walsh concludes his definitive two-volume account of the life of the most acclaimed composer of the 20th century. Details of the composition, performance, recording and reception of the works of this prolific period-neoclassical ones like Oedipus Rex, Orpheus and The Rake's Progress; serialist ones like The Flood, Agon and the Requiem Canticles-absorb the attention of both subject and author. Readers would benefit from some familiarity with Stravinsky's considerable oeuvre, as Walsh comments colorfully on the pieces, but he is mostly concerned with setting the record straight on dates, itineraries, motivations and who said what to whom. In doing so, he often takes issue with Robert Craft, Stravinsky's indispensable assistant, co-conductor and ghostwriter, whose published reminiscences have long stood as the most complete record of the composer's life. Walsh convincingly argues that Craft's intense personal involvement in Stravinsky's life-he describes their relationship as "a miniature ecosystem"-makes him a biased witness or imprecise observer, and Walsh's meticulous consideration makes for a valuable corrective. Amidst all the data, Walsh also demonstrates a gift for lively metaphor that brings his subject to life in flashes-a doer rather than a thinker, a composer devoted to the purity of his art and a perpetually surprising creative genius. Highly recommended. 16pp of halftones, not seen by PW.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From The New Yorker

The second volume of Walsh's remarkably thorough two-part biography begins with Stravinsky arriving in America—his European roots severed by the Second World War and the deaths of his mother, his wife, and his elder daughter—bringing with him a longtime mistress and a neoclassical style that soon goes out of fashion. The story gathers strength with the entry, in the late nineteen-forties, of Robert Craft, a young conductor of overpowering ambition. Craft made Stravinsky's later works possible, patiently introducing him to twelve-tone music, and eventually became such an intimate that a breach with Stravinsky's children was inevitable. Negotiating the ensuing web of lawsuits, wounded egos, and tax-avoidance schemes, Walsh, an academic musicologist who writes with the verve of a first-rate critic, never loses sight of the incandescent figure at its center, a man whose supposedly inexpressive music became "the best response to those terrifying years that brought it into being."
Copyright © 2006 The New Yorker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Format: Hardcover
Following up the wonderful first volume of his biography of Stravinsky, Cardiff University musicologist Stephen Walsh gives us a second and final volume that begins in 1934 and ends with Stravinsky's death in 1971. This takes us through the unsettled 1930s, his emigration to America and then the final years with his conversion to ultra-modern techniques. It would appear that Walsh has read and digested everything written about the composer during the times in question, and he has interviewed many people who knew and worked with him. At times the narrative is weighted down by 'and then he conducted X in Y' but his always graceful, indeed beautiful, prose makes even those laundry list sections interesting reading. There is some attention paid to the ins and outs of the works themselves but this does not pretend to be an analysis of Stravinsky's oeuvre; Walsh has already written such a book, the exceedingly valuable 'The Music of Stravinsky.'

There is, of course, a good deal of mention of that most important of late Stravinsky associates, Robert Craft, who has himself written extensively about the composer. There are some disagreements with Craft's published statements, but less than one might imagine and it is done with evenhandedness and tact. Nonetheless, he indicates that Craft's personal involvement with Stravinsky led to some imprecision in his observations and assessments.

For those who have read the earlier volume this is a must-have. For those who are tempted to get this volume without having read the earlier one, I'd suggest some caution. In the present volume there are many references to incidents and people whose importance is unexplained and which can only be gleaned from having first read the earlier volume, 'A Creative Spring.' But taken together these two volumes are indispensable for anyone wanting to understand Stravinsky the man.

Scott Morrison
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Format: Hardcover
Regardless of your opinion of his music, there is no doubt that Igor Stravinsky was one of the most significant composers of the twentieth century. I love his music and find his many changes in style fascinating. And while his big well-known masterworks (even the debate over which those are) are more widely appreciated, I also find his smaller works interesting and engaging. No matter what he did, Stravinsky created works that were among the most lively and engaging in whatever style he was using. He was fiercely independent and uncompromisingly himself. Given the course of the life he led and the multiple exiles alluded to in the subtitle, the strength he had to maintain that originality is possibly the most amazing thing about the man.

This very large and very detailed biography of Stravinsky's life from 1934 until his death in 1971 is fascinating on several levels. For me, the most interesting part and the primary reason I wanted to read the book is to read in more detail the circumstances of the birth of the compositions from this half of the composer's life. Who commissioned what, how the final composition was or was not what was originally discussed, what the considerations were for the resources used, and then Stravinsky's use of serial techniques (and how that developed and how the variety of approaches he took to serialism remained Stravinsky).

There is also the story of his life in Europe and then the move to the United States. The strange relationship between Stravinsky's first wife (whom he loved all his life even after she died) and his second wife, Vera, while his first wife was still alive and Vera was his mistress. Of course, this affected his relationship with his children, as did his life in Hollywood while they lived in Europe.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Steven Schwartz VINE VOICE on April 20, 2009
Format: Paperback
I normally HATE this type of bio. Most composers lead pretty dull lives. If you were to make a truthful movie of one, you'd have long stretches of Our Hero scratching on a piece of paper. In other words, it's not the life itself that's interesting, but the work that life produced. Of course Stravinsky's life lacks the excitement of Rite of Spring or Oedipus Rex or Agon. I can't think of any life that measures up. But Stravinsky was a more interesting personality than most, especially in light of the music he produced and the contradictory things he said about it. Without quite uncovering the mystery of genius, Walsh nevertheless manages to keep our attention and build suspense, mostly through explicating the course of the composer's life and offering shrewd guesses into the composer's character. I happen to love almost everything Stravinsky wrote, so naturally I'm interested in the man. However, Stravinsky's family and personal relations are so tangled that I'm confident this book would appeal to those who can leave the work alone. Even so, Walsh provides valuable "bird's-eye" insights into several major scores.

A fine historian, Walsh scrupulously separates fact from the notoriously wishful thinking of Craft's accounts. Of course, Craft becomes the second major player in the narrative. Walsh isn't interested in bashing Craft and in several places vigorously defends him against the charges of careerism and Svengali-ism. On the other hand, he doesn't overlook Craft's flaws. Walsh tends to see neither gods nor demons, but people. He also has the gift of tying often-mundane facts into a compelling story and of bright, elegant prose. I can't praise this book (and its predecessor) highly enough.
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