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Talks With Great Composers Paperback – August 4, 1998


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Talks With Great Composers + Spiritual Lives of the Great Composers + The Gift of Music (Expanded and Revised, 3rd Edition): Great Composers and Their Influence
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Citadel (August 4, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0806515651
  • ISBN-13: 978-0806515656
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 5.7 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #741,703 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Kenneth R. Sundberg on September 27, 2000
Format: Paperback
I have to give this little book very high marks. It taught me a lot. The prose can be stilted, it can be repetitive, and it was astonishing for me. I recommend it to anyone interested in the workings of great minds. I have no works with which to compare it, but one needs to start somewhere.
I want to honest about this. I was astonished when I read the Brahms interview. The prospect of a creative man, however great, consciously and deliberately asking God to speak through him to the man's audience floors me. Basically all of the composers whom Abell treats carried out the same or similar invocation, so perhaps I shouldn't be surprised. I was though.
I've given the book to others, and I've asked for their reactions to it. Remarkably, for me at least, no one else admitted to surprise on finding that Brahms speaks with the authority of the almighty Himself. That was a really cool revelation too,in it's own way. We must live in a world with a lot more mystic connections than a reprobate such as me appreciates. Many people in this second audience I created wished to dispute Brahms on his theology, but no one seemed surprised by his activities or reacted to them as a first response. I had to drag responses out of these individuals, and they gave them up with reluctance. Something really personal is going on here, and if you read this little book, you can get in on it.
I'm currently in a position to lead a discussion group at a university. For fun I'm going to speak on spirituality in teaching and in the classroom, and I'm going to try to do an end run around the syllabus and introduce the Brahms conversation from this little book. I'm sure it's going to be interesting, and I may come away from the event not only surprised but also a little better informed. Wish me luck.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By T. Berner on April 3, 2011
Format: Paperback
The skeptics raise ligitimate questions about the accuracy of this work, but they are overwrought in their judgment. For the last 2000 years, almost all of the great artists have believed that their inspiration came from God. Why should they be so upset that Arthur Abell claims that Brahms was part of this tradition?

True, Brahms was very reticent about his religious beliefs and the Cambridge Companion to Brahms says that "most" Brahms scholars "question" the account solely because of that reticence, but Abell met Brahms near the end of his life and some people become garrulous as they sense the end coming. Also, Abell was introduced to Brahms by a very close friend which may have loosened him up a bit. What's more, the Cambridge Companion concludes that accounts of other composers in this book are correct. And Patrick Kavanaugh reaches the same conclusion as this book about Brahm's spirituality without relying on Abell, so there is plenty of material to suggest that Abell's account is accurate in its main premise.

Abell was a prominent music critic for more than 20 years and got to know many composeers very well. He wrote this book from memory many years after his conversations with these composers, with all the unreliability that creates. But that's different than fabrication.

This book is charming, instructive and covers more than the spiritual values of the composers. Puccini's account about his first meeting with Caruso is alone worth the price of the book.

One should be skeptical of everything one reads, but don't pass this one up.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By dodo on January 9, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a musician, I had been looking for this book for some time. It was over my best expectations, and I recommend it to music lovers, artists and anybody that wants to understand how genuine art is brought to us.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ryan on March 25, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
To those people who criticize this book, there is just as much evidence that this book is true that there is that it's not. The fact that this book exists is a testimony that these conversations happened. Brahms avoided biographers? That would explain why he made Mr. Abell wait to publish this book. This book is riveting, and full of incredible insights. To him who believes in God, and is used to defending the faith, don't worry about the critics of this book. People faulted Jesus and said he had a devil. Criticism has always been the devil's first choice of attack. Brahms insights into the Spiritual world are unique, full, and at times quirky. All the makings of man who had grand truth, and sought for it wherever he could find it. Whether you agree that a man levitated or not is beside the point. Brahms was talking about what was on him mind, and we must leave it at that. If you take this book for what it teaches about how to draw inspiration from the almighty you will be richly blessed. If you choose to criticize then you fall victim to the ash heap of history that is most atheist composers, and creative sorts.
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10 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Erica R. on December 25, 2008
Format: Paperback
This patently fraudulent book was concocted by its author with a clear agenda. Its bogus-ness is clarified by the scholarly article by Jan Swafford "Did the Young Brahms Play Piano in Waterfront Bars?". Do not get taken in by its nonsense as it has no root in authenticity whatsoever. How convenient that not one of the composers could argue what is written here; there is not a single document other than the mythical discussions this charlatan is posing as truth that supports that these composers had any position such as those written here.
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