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Who Killed Classical Music?: Maestros, Managers, and Corporate Politics Hardcover – May, 1997


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

A sequel of sorts to The Maestro Myth: Great Conductors in Pursuit of Power, Who Killed Classical Music? continues British author and critic Norman Lebrecht's version of the saga of how presenting classical music evolved from the (at least ostensible) nurturing of art into a brutal and fairly sleazy business. Lebrecht finds plenty of heads on which to heap the blame, and more than a few minor deities are toppled from their thrones. He's not always altogether accurate in the small details, but he's eminently readable and he's got the big picture dead on. Like its predecessor, this is a must read for anyone concerned about the future of classical music.

From Library Journal

Shocking! Revealing! Frightening! These cliches from the promoter's vernacular may not be associated with most studies of art music, but they fit this expose of the dirty underside of the classical music world, first published in Britain in 1996 as When the Music Stops. A music writer for the Sunday Times and other publications, Lebrecht believes that the less-than-artistic motives and dealings of present-day star performers, managers, and corporate owners are ruining the art. He presents hard evidence of massive corruption and artistic sell-out in all facets of the field and charts the resultant decline in audience interest. He pulls no punches, naming and pointing his finger at the culprits. The writing is hard-hitting and engaging, although his apocalyptic view is ultimately depressing. Highly recommended.?Timothy J. McGee, Univ. of Toronto
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 455 pages
  • Publisher: Birch Lane Pr; 1st Printing edition (May 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1559724153
  • ISBN-13: 978-1559724159
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.6 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #731,717 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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See all 13 customer reviews
Such is the power of stardom, even in the world of classical music.
bill runyon
Although it requires some background from the reader, this book is a must-read for everyone interested in classical music!
L. Rosenstiel
One can see today what turmoil this has caused classical music and its starving artists.
Timothy Mikolay

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By bill runyon on August 21, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Here is the one book that needs to be read by anyone genuinely
curious about what has caused the decline in interest in classical music worldwide.
The situation is probably worse in the US than other places, but
there are world-wide trends at work, and this author explores
all the causes. Not only does he explore those causes in our
own time, he has reseached the history of the recording industry
to such an extent, you feel at times like you are reading a
scholarly publication. Then at other times, where the author
actually names some of the names who have caused the decline
of classical music and who cause this type music to be held in
contempt by many, and abandoned by most others, you have the feel of reading a supermarket tabloid.
The writer has researched all the pioneers in recording and radio, and he has seemingly interviewed all survivors of that
era, as well as most participants in the current music scene,
and there doesn't appear to be a stone unturned in his work.
Many of the names will be unfamiliar to most readers, but the
writer documents their contribution to both the rise and decline
of classical music.
And, as said, he actually names the names of some of the individual "stars" who have so abused the system, and the public
trust, we have to wonder who in the world continues supporting
such grasping, selfish, egomanical performers and agents, as
well as some of the corporate owners and sponsors. He even at
one point names the world-famous conductor who apparently abuses
children in his travels, and it's a wonder such a man can even
cross international borders. Such is the power of stardom, even
in the world of classical music.
Read more ›
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25 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Ron Simpson on January 11, 2000
Format: Hardcover
If you've watched the two-decade evolution in pop music industry exposé books-going from general veiled accusations and using pseudonyms, to the hard- hitting journalistic romps that are being written today, naming names, dates, companies, and places-then you'll appreciate the HIT MEN of the classical world, Norman Lebrecht's WHO KILLED CLASSICAL MUSIC, which, while it may not name vulnerable artist names in all the damning anecdotal situations in which Lebrecht places them, does explore the life and business of classical music in an alert, candid, and yet affectionate way, naming companies, managers, artists, salaries, and even top-echelon concert fees. Readers who may follow classical record-business entrepreneurship will be glad to find that the great independent- label success stories of our era, such as Naxos and Hyperion, are very much a part of Lebrecht's consciousness and research. There are no clear-cut classes of heroes and villains here, just a general sense of regret and fatigue about the current state of business in the classical world. Ron Simpson, School of Music, Brigham Young University. Author of MASTERING THE MUSIC BUSINESS
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By L. Rosenstiel on February 4, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Behind the media hype surrounding this or that performance or artist lie byzantine machinations. Kingmakers jockeying for position. Sexual politics. Mean actions taken by smallminded people temporarily in power. Some of mediocre talent are practically beatified while others with extraordinary gifts seem to wither away almost unnoticed. Sometimes it's a question of whose side the critics are on at any given moment or who has gotten more press--or even who requires fewer retakes in the recording studio, since that means the production will cost less. Lebrecht tells you all about the backroom ugliness that helps to create the uneven playing field that serious musicians find such an impediment to their survival. Although it requires some background from the reader, this book is a must-read for everyone interested in classical music!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 31, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This book takes a unique look at the classical music world of today. Norman Lebrecht has combined historical evidence as well as researched evidence to declare the truth about the condition of classical music today. It is, as a modern historical account, quite stunning. And for one overly romantic about classical music today, this book dispels much of that kind of though. You learn about Pavarotti's greed, the sexualization of female stars, and down-right dirty underhanded agents. It's a must-read for all classical music lovers.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Mikolay on February 10, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Isn't it amazing what money continues to do to some people and more so, to business? This excellent historical and recent account of how classical music has wound up monetarily suffocating itself is the best read that I've encountered. I could never figure out, until I read this book, why some popular artists' CDs would still be $16 EIGHT YEARS after their release. That's because the CD label still hasn't recovered from paying that artist's ridiculous fee and consequently, redirects the recording industry's funds away from our country's orchestras and lesser known talent. One can see today what turmoil this has caused classical music and its starving artists. Read this book, for if you love classical music, it can be a guide to help people better manage classical music towards a more fiscally sound future and most important of all, stop the greed.
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