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I have read a great deal about the cultural history of 19th-century America. And in particular I have tried to learn more about what was going on musically in our country during those times. Pianist/musicologist Vera Brodsky Lawrence happened upon George Templeton Strong's extensive diaries perhaps twenty years ago and realized that he was a true cultural man about town in New York during the middle years of the century and that his comments on musical goings-on were invaluable. So she extracted his musical observations, collected them into three volumes, of which this is the first, and wrote extensive footnotes that explain references that would have little meaning to modern readers. In the process she has written what may be the definitive musical history of the time in New York. A side note: George Templeton Strong's son, who has the same name, became an important composer of his own era and Naxos is currently recording some of his hitherto ignored orchestral music. I'm not one given to this sort of thing, but after I read this volume I wrote a fan letter to Ms. Lawrence.
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