- Series: Otto Klemperer, His Life and Times (Book 2)
- Hardcover: 500 pages
- Publisher: Cambridge University Press (February 23, 1996)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0521244889
- ISBN-13: 978-0521244886
- Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 1.3 x 9.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,469,782 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Otto Klemperer: Volume 2, 1933-1973: His Life and Times (Otto Klemperer, His Life and Times) Hardcover – February 23, 1996
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In this, the second and final volume of his landmark biography of conductor Otto Klemperer, author Peter Heyworth takes his subject from his exile from Germany in 1933 to his death at the age of 88 in 1973. The book covers Klemperer's difficult years in America and his return to Europe, his problems with Roman Catholicism and his return to Judaism, his encounter with Stalinism, his struggles with manic depression, and his efforts to be recognized as a composer ("Do you like my compositions, Mr. Barenboim?" he asked the then-rising young pianist; "No, Dr. Klemperer," was the reply); all is handled forthrightly and with a high level of scholarship. Heyworth died just before completing the book, which was seamlessly finished by his friend and colleague John Lucas. This is an invaluable portrait of an important musical figure, and the complete discography in the back will be particularly useful to anyone seeking to understand Klemperer and his contributions.
From Publishers Weekly
This second volume of the definitive life of the great German conductor, for which British musicologist and critic Heyworth finished most of the research and writing before his death four years ago (the work was completed by his colleague John Lucas), is likely to be of far more interest to American readers than the first. For one thing, Klemperer (1885-1973) spent the first 12 years, so painstakingly documented here, in the U.S.; and the many recordings with London's Philharmonia Orchestra, which dazzled American music lovers, came from his last 20 years, a golden autumn crowning an exceptionally hard life. After a conventional start, gradually rising through German opera houses and concert halls, but with a more than usual instinct for new music, Klemperer fled the Nazis in 1933 and went to California. For several years he conducted the Los Angeles Philharmonic, beginning to make a name with his sturdy performances of the classics and his remarkable power over orchestras. But, a manic-depressive, he seems to have been thrown into overdrive by a brain operation in 1939, and for much of the war years was in a manic phase, staying out all night in bars, behaving with wild eccentricity?at one point the police even threw him in jail?and seeing a major career slip away. Virtually unemployable by 1945, he took refuge in Budapest, where he revived postwar musical life until the Communists drove him away. A small American record company used him with scratch orchestras until powerhouse Walter Legge of Britain's EMI took him on as principal conductor of his fine new orchestra?and the rest is history. Klemperer's dramatic story, full of wrenching reverses, is told with a wealth of absorbing detail, and there is a wonderfully complete discography. Illustrated.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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In any case, this is a remarkable biography, well-written with judicious judgment of detail and a high degree pf understanding of Klemperer as both musician and man.
That Klemperer was able to accomplish so much while suffering from manic-depressive disease his entire life is almost unbelievable. Given the number of manic episodes which involved unending erotic pursuits (some lasting for years, not months) it's quite amazing that he wasn't murdered by some irate lover or husband.
One detail we're never given that I'd like to know: Klemperer is described with various terms as very tall, but his actual height isn't mentioned. Was he 6 feet 4? That would be my guess from the photos taken with others (he dwarves Schoenberg). The only conductor who looks as tall in his photos is Knappertsbusch.
That Klemperer was a great conductor would be immediately apparent to anyone who's heard his recordings. His Beethoven symphonies are probably his greatest achievement, both the studio and "live" performances, but he was also superb in Mahler (one of the best LIEDs
ever with Wunderlich and Ludwig), and Brahms (his Angel LPs were my first experience of his musicianship).
I wish he'd had a smoother part in life. Being a manic-depressive before there were effective medications for the disease must have been hellish, as much for his family and friends as for him, as the bio makes clear.
Very much worth reading as one of the best conductor biographies ever, but I wish it would be reissued in paperback so that a prospective reader didn't need to pay a fortune to own it.