- Unknown Binding
- Publisher: Greenwood Press (1970)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0837126266
- ISBN-13: 978-0837126265
- Package Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.7 x 1.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,744,773 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The other side of the record Unknown Binding – 1970
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Top customer reviews
The best reason for owning this book, besides containing a plethora of words I'd not seen in print in many years, is his excoriation of Arturo Toscanini. I never knew anyone who knowingly insulted the man to his face; after reading his side of the story I'm rather glad he did! He makes it clear that Toscanini was concerned with Arturo Toscanini, period. I've known two men that produced for the tyrannical conductor and they agreed with O'Connell, one of them did so quite fiercely . Of course they were younger and saw that O'Connell lost his job, for example, by referring to Toscanini as "Mr., not "Maestro" as the short Italian demanded from everyone. O'Connell felt simply because people bought RCA's "spin" about the glories of the old Italian's orchestral leadership, that didn't mean he was special in any way. But Toscanini had bought his own hype decades before and inveighed against his rival until the man was forced out about 10 years after he took over the classical division of RCA records. O'Connell further claims Toscanini's famous outburst's, the kind of abuse that wouldn't be tolerated by any musicians today, was little more than a "calculated show of temper".
A side story here. In 1952 John Pfeiffer, the legendary producer who followed in O'Connell's footsteps at RCA Red Seal, told me a story of being a guest at the Connecticut home of Fritz Reiner, another conductor who honed the Chicago Symphony into arguably the best orchestra in the USA at the time. Pfeiffer and his boss, Richard Mohr were talking to Reiner about their upcoming projects. Pfeiffer, not thinking fast enough, said, "We're recording "Maestro" in New York tomorrow morning". Reiner lowered his head to see over his spectacles and asked rather sharply, "Maestro WHO?" Both the RCA men blanched and fumbled for a reply as Reiner's glance grew more stern until he let out a brief chuckle. Pfieffer maintained it was one of the biggest lessons he ever learned in his early career that lasted well over 50 years.
O'Connell beat out many people who went after Toscanini's status as "the greatest conductor ever to live", etc. in the '70's - '90's. He also exposes the hype many other musicians on the RCA label, including Vladimir Horowitz, who was still a relatively young man when the book was written. To O'Connell people like Horowitz were changing the raison d'etre of the piano, which in the writer's mind was a "singing tone". He felt that players such as Horowitz were all about rhythmic precision and loud, louder and loudest as well as playing faster than the music needed or required, thus ruining concerti such as the Tchaikovsky. Goodness knows if he heard most of what was out there today O'Connell would probably cover his ears. I believe he most admired the playing of Sergei Rachmaninoff and writes a wonderful section about the Russian composer/performer.
This book makes reference to many musicians who never made it to the LP era except as "historic artists". When reading it one must remember that O'Connell was born in 1910 meaning that he heard a large number of great 19th century singers, soloists and conductors. "The Other Side of the Record" is about the end of what may have been the greatest period of recorded classical music. No doubt the 1950's through the 1970's saw many great performers, but as with so many professions, specialization had already taken over. There's far more to mention, but I suggest you read it yourself. Very few people care about the artists mentioned in this 1948 tome. Thankfully, I still do and thus enjoyed the book, even with O'Connell's tendency to overwrite being demonstrated on almost every page.