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The Life and Death of Classical Music: Featuring the 100 Best and 20 Worst Recordings Ever Made Paperback – April 10, 2007
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Top Customer Reviews
Lebrecht's book sheds light on all the vanities, egos, and personalities in the industry--past and present. Here is Karajan--masestro grandioso--feared but respected, whose net worth at his death was estimated at over $500 million with most of it derived from reissues of his earlier and better performances. Here is Bernstein, who, considered a somewhat of a second-tier conductor, plagued with insecurities and pretentious self-doubt, would often exasperate orchestras without punctuality or form (often forcing entire orchestras to wait an hour or more before he took to the podium) with his disdain for the inviolate nature of some works that are an inherent part of a country's national identity. Although venerated as a national treasure, Lebrecht paints another dimension to Bernstein; he recalls how the conductor completely botched a recording session with BBC Orchestra to produce one of the "worst classical recordings of all time"--Elgar's Enigma Variations in 1982. A very sloppy and unprofessional approach to a job overall and a personal insult to the dead composer's memory and the English.Read more ›
My major criticism of this book (and indeed most of Lebrecht's books) is that it's sloppy. He could use a good editor and fact-checker to catch such obvious errors as saying that around 1970 the Boston Symphony was still a non-union orchestra that worked "cheap." He also criticizes companies for continuing to issue new performances of the same repertory (fair enough), but then also ridicules them when they make recordings of less familiar repertoire that fail to sell in order to satisfy egomaniac conductors. Also, he often strings together anecdotes with very little thematic context or chronological coherence, often jumping several decades in the space of a sentence or two; if you aren't at least vaguely aware of a lot of these events, you'll be entirely lost (then again, if you're not vaguely aware of them, you probably won't be reading this book).
As for his 100 best/20 worst list, his 100 best has a few whose significance I would question, and excludes some others I would add.Read more ›
It has been pointed out that the title is off-kilter, since the book focuses on the vicissitudes of classical RECORDING rather than those of classical music as such. A similar criticism can be leveled against Lebrecht's THE MAESTRO MYTH: the title invites one to expect that the author will do something courageously revolutionary, viz., make a case against the importance of the conductor for the performance of concerted music; but what he actually delivers is a very-UNrevolutionary broadside against the personality cults that have developed around certain celebrity conductors. And THE LIFE AND DEATH OF CLASSICAL MUSIC supplies much the same unflattering, now-get-a-load-of-this gossip about classical music celebrities in general but about Herbert von Karajan in particular.
Lebrecht plays fast and loose with his facts. Speaking of Caruso as of 1902, he claims on p. 11: "Short, fat and ugly, Caruso was an unlikely star...." This judgment can be tested against 1902 photographs of Caruso in Francis Robinson, CARUSO, HIS LIFE IN PICTURES. After recounting how the sales of Caruso's G & T recordings from April, 1902, jump-started the commercial recording industry, Lebrecht states on page 12: "The last Golden Ager to hold out [on making records] was...Feodor Chaliapin." This is very mistaken: Chaliapin recorded cylinders as early as 1898 and recorded discs for Emil Berliner as early as 1901.
Lebrecht's facile dismissal of the acoustical recording era (roughly, the interval 1888 - 1925) is equally bone-headed. P.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book is a trainwreck. The first half of the book is basically a casual recollection of classical recording industry history. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Phillip Huang
Lebrecht has been placing lilies on the grave of classical music for some time now. A more accurate title would be "The Life and Death of Classical Recording," as classical... Read morePublished on June 8, 2014 by Larry Benjamin
The book, in great depth, describes what I have seen, felt and feared for sometime: the not-so-slow demise of the classical music recording industry as well as the dwindling... Read morePublished on June 14, 2013 by W. R. Jenkinson
Kindle version almost same price as printed!
ARE YOU "KINDLING" ME, AMAZON?
The book itself is five stars, even though lacking of schoolarship sometimes, nevertless... Read more
Biritsh entertainment journalist Norman Lebrecht is to classical music what Leonard Maltin is to the American film industry: a cultural commentator, part historian, part critic,... Read morePublished on June 22, 2012 by Larry VanDeSande
N. Lebrecht es mordaz en su particular vision del mundo de la música. Este libro aunque me ha gustado menos que su "El mito del maestro" es interesante para ver cómo... Read morePublished on June 15, 2011 by Carlos Urtasun Estanga
I was intrigued to read this book after hearing Norman Lebrecht on the radio when I was in the UK last summer. Then he was speaking about his new book on Mahler: Why Mahler? Read morePublished on April 14, 2011 by HRH
In principle, I'm all for the provocative and challenging opinion - provided that it has substance. If it is only provocative for the sake of provocation, if its only goal is to... Read morePublished on December 13, 2010 by Discophage