- Paperback: 264 pages
- Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (August 15, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1533395993
- ISBN-13: 978-1533395993
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 20 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,189,099 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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THEME and Variations: My Life's Journey Paperback – August 15, 2016
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Early on , the personality traits that characterize the man today became evident: A deep sense of purpose, very good organizational skills, a strong work ethic, self discipline, a sense of perfect pitch, a sense of humor, and last but not least, a love of food.
Miropolsky experienced both challenges and losses during the course of his career and personal life. He tells us about them, explains how he coped and then moved on, always looking forward. He intersperses his story with humorous vignettes, which lightens the mood.
As he guides us through his story, he explains the political scene in Russia from the 1940's to 1990. Due to increasingly oppressive legislation which curtailed their social, artistic and economic rights , Miropolsky, his wife Larisa, and her parents emigrated to the United States inFebruary, 1990. They settled initially in San Francisco for a short time. Subsequently he interviewed with Gerard Schwarz, , competed for , and earned his current position as Assistant Second Principal Violinist with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra which he holds to this day.
After a few years in this position, he felt the need to grow musically. He began to pursue his earlier dream of becoming a conductor. He founded the Seattle Violin Virtuosi which consisted of 11 violinists and a pianist. Miropolsky handled all aspects of organizing a concert e.g. recruitng the musicians , to determning the program and ordering dresses for the women performers. He rented the Benaroya Recital Hall and they began practicing, Their Inaugural Concert was an outstanding success, and they received very good reviews. This was the first of many successful musical groups that he established.
Subsequently Miropolsky became the conductor for many local orchestras: the Cascade Symphony , the Bellevue Philharmonic, Lake Washington Symphony and the Thalia Symphony. He explains that a good conductor can bring out the best in an orchestra. One way in which he does this is to treat the members with respect and understanding. He engages his audiences by speaking with them. This makes them feel that they are participants in a performance. The author also provides insights into the musicians themselves. He describes their personalities, their attitudes toward their work, and the physical challenges of their profession.
When his children Evelina and Alex were in their early teens, the family prematurely lost their wife and mother, Larisa, to cancer at the age of 50 years.. She was a courageous woman. Prior to her death she discussed with Miropolsky how he should raise their children. He susccesfully acomplished this as a single parent. Today he speaks with pride of all his children and their careers. Yulia has become a violinst, Evelina is a psychologist, and Alex works in the field of computer science.
Miropolsky's story makes us realize how fortunate we are to have the opportunities that we do in America. It points out that your attitude toward life is very important; it colors how you get along with people and how you make the most of opportunities you identify. It is a testimony to the strength of character needed to achieve success in this life. If success is measured by the degree to which you implement a dream that you hold most dearly, then Mr. Miropolsky has accomplished this very well.
Impeccably told by an author who learned English during much harsher times in Russia than, perhaps, today; Miropolsky charms his readers with his humor-laced memoir written in his conversational style which has come to endear the maestro to his orchestras, his colleagues, his students, fans and followers.
A sweeping illumination of Russian life from his earlier life (1955 and even before) Theme and Variations is a literary journey that brings together the experiences of a young boy whose only way out of abject poverty and rationing is through a demanding music school curriculum at the prestigious Gnessin State Musical College. Ultimately recognized for his musicianship by benefactors who recognize Miropolsky’s commitment to his music he is propelled onto the world stage at an early age.
In the vein of Mozart in the Jungle, and even Dr. Zhivago, this memoir leaves no life-of-a-musican nuance to the reader’s imagination. Questions are answered as to: How competitive are orchestra members, what is the genealogy of teacher-to-stage success – what happens to those who fail – and what happens to those who succeed the heady world of classical music?
Miropolsky’s beginnings reflect the privilege of have a school principal father; but those privileges are dimmed by rationed food and clothes adapted from the fabric of his older sister’s wardrobe.
When Miropolsky arrives for his music at Gnessin, and because of housing assignments by the State, he finds himself sharing the bedroom of an elderly widow in a partitioned corner of her apartment.
Still he remains committed to his schooling, trudging to the subway and onto three buses to make it his coveted classes each day. He delights the reader with stories of the antics of his classmates, such as the Stolichnaya vodka hidden away in suitcases for out-of-town engagements, the girls to fall in love with, and more -- written as a great adventure under oppressive times.
Miropolsky regales his star-crossed first love and the great and enduring beauty of his second love. In exquisite terms he writes of his three children and how their lives have evolved as they each face the realities of their adulthood.
Seattle-area readers (and fans of behind-the-scenes orchestra politics) will be fascinated by the intrigue of musician’s interviews, auditions and performance schedules as explained by Miropolsky in his witty style.
A highly recommended read for orchestra enthusiasts, patrons of the symphony, Russian scholars and aficionados of great memoir. A well deserved 5-stars!
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In some points is remind detective stories, sometimes-drama and of course, romance.
Because I am from Russia and musician, this story is very close to my heart .
This book (thanks to the author's sense of humor and wonderful personality) is a delightful reading.
Thank you, Michael
The book is full of funny and poignant stories about the author’s life in former USSR, immigration to United States and establishing himself in his new homeland. Michael tells us about the life of a musician in both counties and what is involved in playing and conducting classical music in both former Soviet Union and United States.
But this book is more than that: it is a story about finding your place in this world. And about music. And mostly a story of persistence, vision and human spirit. Well done, Michael!