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Violin Dreams Paperback – October 15, 2008


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Paperback, October 15, 2008
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Pap/Com Re edition (October 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547086008
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547086002
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 6.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #994,706 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Steinhardt (Indivisible by Four: A String Quartet in Pursuit of Harmony) turns this memoir about becoming a classical concert performer into an adventure. Beyond the specifics of a lifetime spent learning music (Steinhardt hated to practice but remembers swooning to Beethoven as a six-year-old), the first violinist of the celebrated Guarneri Quartet shapes his story with a series of almost mythical odysseys and visions that parallel his technical and intellectual progress. There is the search for the right teacher and the right violin, as well as quirky impressions of such virtuosos as Heifetz and Swigeti. But above all is Steinhardt's ultimate challenge: interpreting J.S. Bach's Chaconne, the most moving but inscrutable of all violin solos. Throughout, Bach is the standard by which Steinhardt measures himself, the artist whose "interlocking qualities of intelligence and sensitivity" he emulates. He knows Bach's history, deconstructs his music, even dreams about the man. When Steinhardt writes of his own fondness for mountain climbing or playfully labels an 18th-century instrument crafted by Sanctus Seraphim "the violin's answer to a fashion model—slender, high-arched, shapely," his subtext is, inevitably, the effect on playing Bach. Watching this accomplished violinist take on the master is riveting; the feeling of immediacy he creates in its telling is an opus at once heroic and brillante. (Oct.)
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.

Review

"Entrancing...There are marvelous stories here...this is a delightful and deeply touching book." --Richard Goode, pianist

"My heart soared while I read this book. I actually was moved both to laughter and tears." --Alan Alda

"Arnold Steinhardt has written a rapturous, witty and passionate memoir of his life-long search for the perfect violin." --John Guare, playwright

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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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As others have said, this is a good read.
M. Rael
I just sent the book to a good friend to read, and recommend it to anyone who is interested in music.
Peter J. Schoenbach
Arnold Steinhardt is as engaging an author as he is a great chamber musician.
S. Chisholm

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Nathaniel R. Brown on September 9, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Violin Dreams, on the surface, is a simple book, recounting Arnold Steinhardt's life as a violinist from his first days of playing, up to his career as first violin of the Guarneri Quartet - the quartet, by the way, from whom I first "learned" the Beethoven quartets. The book also tells of Steinhardt's lifelong quest for the "perfect" violin. But this is only the surface of the book. Intentionally or not, Steinhardt's very simple prose conceals a sub-stratum of deep feeling, musical insight, and a man's search for meaning in his own life.

As a sports professional, I found Steinhardt's confrontation of the possible loss of his ability to play at all deeply moving. What are we, when the thing we have lived for is taken away? If we are nothing without our profession and our tools, then we are nothing with them - as Steinhardt points out.

Arnold Steinhardt, it turns out, is a great deal more than just his violin. He grows increasingly curious about the music behind the music - repeatedly, we return to the Bach Partita for Violin solo No. 2 in D minor, from which the chaconne becomes a touchstone of Steinhardt's "journey towards music", as Victor Gollancz once memorably put it. He travels to wonderful places such as Machu Pichu (on foot, which says something about the man). He pays homage to the luthiers of Cremona. He grows through friendships with some of the world's great musicians, and from friends less musically exalted. And each journey brings Steinhardt, and the reader, closer to music, and to something both basic and ennobling.

At the end the book, I was taken by surprise at how emotionally engaged I had become. John Steen has pointed out that the real purpose of the critic is to make us hear music better and to lead us to deeper engagement with it.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on December 13, 2006
Format: Paperback
A cd of the author playing Bach's Partita in D Minor forty years ago at the beginning of his career and recently on his Storioni violin accompanies VIOLIN DREAMS, a blend of memoir and violin history which recounts the author's affection for the instrument. From his first violin and early teachers to his rise to professional status, his journey accompanies a survey of the history and backgrounds of the world's great violin makers in a powerful and fine account.

Diane C. Donovan

California Bookwatch
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Michael Davis on February 6, 2007
Format: Paperback
This eminently readable book is a beautiful insight into the mind of one of America's most outstanding musicians and, coupled with the idee fixe of the great Bach Chaconne for Solo Violin it moves freely through centuries of great violins and a lifetime of contacts with many outstanding musicians of yesteryear. It is both inspiring and heartwarming!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Howard Osborn on March 20, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is the second of Steinhardt's autobiographical books, following "Indivisible by Four". Both books are warm personal accounts of the life of a gifted American musician who remains throughout an honest human being without pretense. Considering the wonderful contributions he has made to music and to the teaching of music, it is a pleasure to read more details written in his own conversational style. This book, with the accompanying CD of the Bach D-minor Chaconne, is a treasure.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Peter J. Schoenbach on April 10, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As an old friend and colleague of Mr. Steinhardt, it was a special treat to read this, his second book. He combines the autobiographical story of his development as a top-notch violinist, with interesting facts about the violin.

One can glimpse the wonderfully good-natured, modest person behind the scenes, and place him both with the long line of great violinists on whom he drew, and the current generation of great musicians with whom he interacted.

I just sent the book to a good friend to read, and recommend it to anyone who is interested in music.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Newton Malerman on March 8, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have been a chamber music fan for over 50 years, and Arnold Steinhardt's playing has contributed to my enjoyment of the art over many of those years.

His first book gave me an appreciation of the challanges faced by chamber musicians. This new book is so much more! Here he puts into words just what music does for the soul, and (who thought it possible) greatly increased my appreciation of what I was hearing.

An added bonus is the CD! It amplifies much of the discussion in the book, though the book itself is a virtuosic performance! Thank you Arnold Steinhardt, for again enriching our lives!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Anthony Skey on September 18, 2007
Format: Paperback
I read Mr. Steinhardt's book in almost a single sitting. His explication of Bach's D minor partita, and particularly its final movement "chaconne" should be required reading for every serious, classical violinist. Despite my many years of involvement with the instrument, both as a dealer and amateur player, I was fascinated with Mr. Steinhardt's search for a suitable violin. Having heard the Budapest Quartet, it was a revelation to me that he acquired Joseph Roisman's fiddle; so appropriate that it would pass from one great quartet leader to another. A small error in the book was the date given for Jascha Heifetz's memorable Carnegie Hall debut; it was in October of 1917, not 1918. Aside from that
the book is a page turner, beautifully written and very personal.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By stemper on July 26, 2007
Format: Paperback
Charming and engrossing book about playing the violin and trying to come to terms with one of Bach's great masterpieces. In my opinion the book is at its best when it is about music and the violin - which is most of the time. I'm less convinced by the sections designed to give it universal appeal and at times the style gets a little too folksy. However, it is full of wonderful detail and has got me playing the Chaconne (in Steinhardt's impassioned performance on the CD) in the car all the time. And given me an entirely new understanding of what a violin is. And we see the true apostolic succession - that of the artist - the present standing upon the achievements of the past - we see that at work. The idea of dancing the Chaconne suffuses the book with a feeling of what it means to be human and mortal. A lovely work.
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