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Thomas Beecham: An Obsession with Music Hardcover – July 14, 2009

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Thomas Beecham: An Obsession with Music changes the way we view this complex personality and will remain the standard biography for years to come. For anyone at all interested in a genuine human enigma and who cares about British music, I cannot recommend it highly enough. THE LIGHT MUSIC SOCIETY MAGAZINEThis is the best biography of a musician I have read for a very long time... one which all genuine music lovers should possess. INTERNATIONAL RECORD REVIEWBeecham's insensitivities... have to be seen in the context of his kindnesses, which were numerous and generous. Lucas holds the two in balance, which is an asset of his enthralling book. GLASGOW HERALDJohn Lucas's brimming biography... reminds us just how much... we owe him. SUNDAY TIMESLucas has excelled himself: this is in every way a magnificent achievement. CLASSIC FM MAGAZINRImpeccably researched... Lucas is excellent on the visits to Australia and America. SPECTATOR(Beecham's) rackety private life makes for many an entertaining page in... (this) thorough study of a man who changed the face of British music for ever. MAIL ON SUNDAYEin faszinierendes Buch... unbedingt empfehlenswert. ORPHEUSNot only a very good biography, it is, in the circumstances, an extraordinarily concise one. THE OLDIE(Beecham) meets his match in his engaging and erudite biographer. OPERALucas' thorough, exhaustive and often highly amusing biography will... re-establish Beecham as one of the foremost musical personalities of the last hundred years. CLASSICAL MUSICRemarkably thorough... A good read... and a solidly informative biography. BBC MUSIC MAGAZINELucas (expands upon Beecham's international reputation) with the sort of balanced judgments and care for detail that bring fresh perspective. FINANCIAL TIMESA fully comprehensive chronicle of... an extraordinary life... in a wealth of mesmerising detail, whole swathes of which have previously been completely unknown. CLASSIC RECORD COLLECTORA masterly combination of elegantly presented research and keen insight... a biography that is in every way worthy of him. WAGNER JOURNALA detailed, well-written, and generous biography and it will stand for some time. FANFARE

About the Author

JOHN LUCAS was on the staff of the Observer for 25 years, completed Peter Heyworth's monumental biography of Otto Klemperer, wrote the biography of Reginald Goodall, and is responsible for the current entries on Beecham and Klemperer on the New Grove BEECHAM IN REHEARSAL: This book will include a full-length CD of Beecham rehearsing the RPO. It features music by Haydn, Mozart, Handel, Liszt and a remarkable movement from Beethoven's 5th Symphony.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Boydell Press; Har/Com edition (July 14, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1843834022
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843834021
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #581,224 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I saw this book reviewed in Gramophone magazine. I'm not a music expert, just a music lover, but I thought it looked fascinating - no disappointment there! Written in a scholarly and at the same time wryly humorous style, it's a great read, with surprises at every turn of the page.
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Format: Hardcover
John Lucas has provided a biography of Thomas Beecham that incorporates an informative history of the times and places that he lived in as well as the various people that he associated with in his long life. This biography is very thorough and detailed in all respects yet it also manages to provide an almost compulsive reading experience and turns what could be a a dry narrative into a very personal account.

What comes over very strongly throughout this book is that Beecham, as a musician, stood head and shoulders above his contemporary colleagues. In particular he had the ability to transform any group of musicians in front of him into performers of a much higher standard largely by force of his own personality. This ability to inspire performers to deliver well beyond their normal level was there at the start of his career and stayed with him until the end of his life.

Beecham was an obsessive man and there were considerable costs paid by many others for his obsessions and these are made clear in the course of the book. He constantly ran up huge debts, often funded by others, which he failed to honour. He regularly made promises on a range of subjects both financial or not which he clearly had little or no intention of fulfilling. He was dismissive of vast numbers of people and cared little for the sensitivities of almost everyone. His treatment of the women in his life was particularly self-centred and cruel in its casual carelessness which ultimately caused them unending grief with the exception of his young last wife of just 19 months.

His famed witticisms were frequently delivered from a position of strength to those who were not in a position to reply. He eventually became a political liability in what he thoughtlessly proclaimed when abroad during the war.
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