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Mark the Music: The Life and Work of Marc Blitzstein

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
ISBN-13: 978-0595092482
ISBN-10: 0595092489
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Historian Gordon presents a thorough account of the life and works of the composer best known for his American stage adaptation of Bertold Brecht's The Threepenny Opera. In his own compositions, not well received in their own time and not often performed today, Blitzstein expressed his preoccupation with the political and social issues of his day. His operas of the 1930s (for example, The Cradle Will Rock and No for an Answer ) are statements of his commitment to the labor movement and to left-wing causes, and all of his later works contain bold social commentary. Gordon gives exhaustive synopses of the plots of Blitzstein's operas and theater pieces and discusses his life at length, especially his personal relationships and his homosexuality. The result is a detailed picture of a composer who used his music as a vehicle for propaganda long before the political protest music of the 1960s and '70s. A list of Blitzstein's compositions is included. Photographs not seen by PW.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Blitzstein has suffered years of unjust neglect, but lately his star has been on the ascendant, and this excellent biography will further boost his reputation. A socially conscious composer who strove to write serious yet accessible classical music for the American masses, Blitzstein produced an oeuvre that overall is uneven, though his greatest success, The Cradle Will Rock , is a landmark work in populist American musical theater. Historian Gordon has written an extraordinarily detailed and well-researched account of Blitzstein's life and achievements. The book is an invaluable socio-musical document as well, particularly in chronicling the activities of New York-based artists and literati during the Depression era. Gordon's style is crisp and compelling throughout. Highly recommended.
- Lar ry Lipkis, Moravian Coll., Bethlehem, Pa.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 644 pages
  • Publisher: iUniverse (June 19, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0595092489
  • ISBN-13: 978-0595092482
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,485,144 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
The name of Marc Blitstein -- an extrordinarily talented and nearly forgotten 20th cnetury American composer -- resurfaced last year when Tim Robbins' film "Cradle Will Rock" lovingly resurrected the New York cultural scene during the Depression. The film builds to the glorious moment in 1937 when Orson Welles, John Housman and a bunch of courageous performers (all of whom risked forfeiting their W.P.A. paychecks and rejoining the breadlines) defied the Government's lockout and marched 20 blocks to a hastily rented theater for the opening performance of Blitzstein's delightful agitprop musical. The film doesn't tell us much about Blitstein, who comes across a driven, somewhat strange songwriter who recently lost his wife. Eric Gordon's remarkable biography fills in the blamks.
Marc Blitstein was a superbly trained classical composer whose serious music is largely forgotten (the only instrumental work available on CD via Amazon.com is his 1931 piano concerto; the CD his magnificent opera "Regina," based on Lillian Hellman's play "The Little Foxes," is not to be found; his agitprop opera, "No For an Answer," which was first performed in 1939, has never been releaded on CD; his "Airborne Symphony" largely written while on duty in the Army Air Force." has also unavailable.)
Blitzstein was raised in Philadelphia, the son of Russian Jewish immagrants. His family was comfortably middle class (they operated a bank that served the immigrant community) but never lost touch with their socialist roots. Marc was a prodigy who scratched out a living during the 1920's from lecturing and writing on the new music.
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