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The Maestro Myth: Great Conductors in Pursuit of Power Paperback – January 1, 2001
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Top customer reviews
It has numerous anecdotes on several conductors, though it sometimes skims over a conductor. For example, in the chapter discussing Great Conductorial Dictators (a list which comprised of Toscanini, Furtwangler, Szell, and Reiner), it covered in detail the lives of Toscanini and Furtwangler, but had a short paragraph on Szell and Reiner, though all four were listed in the chapter for discussion.
The book moves quickly and efficiently, never staying on a topic, really, longer then it really needs to, though it may ramble a while on a particular conductor (devoting, for example, an entire chapter bashing on Karajan). He accuses many and congratulates few, but Lebrecht offers his opinion convincingly.
It's an interesting read and many will be surprised to read about their favorite conductor.
Timely delivery and for those who like music, this book is a voyage into another world.
Well-written small talk, even pure invective, can be entertaining on its own level, but Lebrecht fails even in this. Other reviewers seem to find entertainment in his style, if not his substance. I do not share that view. Lebrecht piles tired cliche upon cliche, hack metaphor upon metaphor, and peppers the text with the kind of childish alliteration you read only in school essays and tabloid press. His imagery is frequently ugly and not a little suspect (CD buyers browsing in shops are apparently lined up like men standing at urinals).
One is left wondering what target audience Lebrecht had in mind: people interested in serious music? Hardly. People who enjoy empty celebrity biography? Unlikely. One is left with the impression that Lebrecht is writing for his own idle amusement, or apparently with envy that his own musical gifts seem to be in inverse proportion to his propensity to write gossip about the abilities of others. He is welcome to it. For the rest of us, there are finer, more penetrating, more cogently argued and simply better written books on conductors available.
I bought the book on a whim and became deeply entrenched in its pages within minutes (this is not to say that this reads like Clancy but it is very interesting). But the more I read the more frustrated I became at the mindless and senseless editing that was done here. For instance, on one page alone there are 3 different spellings of Mahler's name:
1: The correct way appears- Mahler
2: Then this- Maler
3: And finally this- Mabler
The latter really bowled me over. And the further I read the worse it became. There are also misrepresented facts (such as the stockyards in Chicago) throughout.
In short, if you are looking for scholarship and true presentations, look elsewhere. If you are interested in various interesting anecdotes and trivia-like facts about conductors and you dont mind sifting through misspellings and foreign words with no interpretation, then you will enjoy this book. But I must warn you...any book with a typo on its back cover (The Maesto Myth) may be more of a hassle than good informal reading.