Earl Wild's Memoirs

Posted by: Mr. McFugue

Earl Wild's Memoirs - 06/04/11 09:17 AM

I just received "A Walk On The Wild Side", by the late Earl Wild. I've always enjoyed this type of book, and after reading just 2 chapters, I'm really fascinated, and amused by his frankness and storytelling ability. The book is almost 900 pages long, and includes a CD. It's available from his website or Ivory Classics. It covers a lot of music history in America during the last century, told by someone who was there. I highly recommend this book.
Posted by: stores

Re: Earl Wild's Memoirs - 06/04/11 10:18 AM

It's one I fully intend to pick up. I'm not sure how well it will read, but if it has any of Wild's ability to tell a story (which I hope everyone here has had the chance to hear at least once) then it will be excellent.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Earl Wild's Memoirs - 06/04/11 11:31 AM

I have heard Wild play around four times including his famous all transcription concert at Carnegie Halll:
http://www.nytimes.com/1981/11/03/arts/piano-earl-wild-presents-the-art-of-the-transcription.html

He can be very funny(intentionally) on stage. At Carnegie Hall he was playing encores to a very enthusiastic audience. On the last "encore", he came out and walked behind the piano, then continued walking around the tail of the piano to the front of the piano by the bench, made a slight pause ...and then continued walking off stage. The audience laughed a lot!

I heard two of his interviews with David Dubal after giving recitals at Mannes in NYC. I think Wild likes to shock his listeners with the sexual frankness of his stories...not sure if that's good or bad, appropriate or not.
Posted by: argerichfan

Re: Earl Wild's Memoirs - 06/04/11 12:08 PM

A self-recommending book if there ever was one. I will definitely order that, thanks to the OP for bringing it to my attention.

In the meantime, enjoy:
Posted by: bennevis

Re: Earl Wild's Memoirs - 06/04/11 01:31 PM

'The last of the great Romantic pianists' is a term that has been bandied around a lot, but I think Earl Wild fits the bill. I grew up on his Rachmaninoff Concerto set (on Reader's Digest LPs! - does anyone still read RD?), and still think it's still one of the best around. And as a fan of transcriptions myself, I loved his Rachmaninoff song transcriptions. Some of his own music (including a piano sonata) has recently been recorded by another pianist, and shows that he really is a Romantic through and through.
Posted by: louisrichards

Re: Earl Wild's Memoirs - 06/12/11 01:07 PM

I've read every pianists book from Mozart's "Letters" to Rubinstein's autobiographical duo and I MUST say:

Earl Wild's "Memoir" is more than I ever expected! Not only does he give us the wickedly delightful tidbits we have come to expect (which started on page 3 for me), he also gives us insightful ~ and priceless ~ information on HOW to approach the Art of Playing the Piano!

This is a Must Read for pianists of ALL levels and will also be highly entertaining for those who just love music. I must admit, however, that I am still only half-way though this thick tome; 3 months and I'm only half-finished. This is a book to be read, savored and digested!

Earl Wild has left the Musical World a recorded and written legacy virtually unmatched in the annals of the piano.
Posted by: Andromaque

Re: Earl Wild's Memoirs - 06/12/11 02:40 PM

I am looking forward to it. Love huge books.

I should say, now tat you mention them, that I really enjoyed Mozart's letters. Far more than I imagined I would. It gave me, probably the best insight into his music and his mind, despite the plethora of available biographies.
Posted by: Bech

Re: Earl Wild's Memoirs - 06/12/11 10:46 PM

Originally Posted By: argerichfan
A self-recommending book if there ever was one. I will definitely order that, thanks to the OP for bringing it to my attention.

In the meantime, enjoy:


argerichfan,

Thanks for the Earl Wild performance. On a Baldwin, no less.

At the conclusion of this performance I notice other performances of his available on YouTube.

Bech
Posted by: argerichfan

Re: Earl Wild's Memoirs - 07/19/11 11:54 AM

Sorry to bump (had to dig down to page 11 to find it), but I wanted to mention that the August issue of Gramophone has a deliciously enticing review by Jeremy Nicholas of 'A Walk on the Wild Side'. This is definitely a must-read!

I can't resist quoting the last sentence:

... the "author" emerges from the 886 pages as some wickedly indiscreet dinner guest who's been there, done it all and got the T-shirt, a waspish old queen with a twinkle in his eye, a great artist in love with the piano - and who really knew how to play it.

Irresistible. laugh
Posted by: David Boyce

Re: Earl Wild's Memoirs - 01/13/13 03:53 PM

I read it in a week when it arrived last year, and went on to read it three more times in fairly quick succession! I found myself doubled up with laughter at some of the stories. How I wish Mr Davis would issue a CD of the "Anna Von Steiner" recordings, just for fun!
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Earl Wild's Memoirs - 01/13/13 05:26 PM

I read it when it first was published and would give it a slightly mixed review. Many interesting stories, important comments about piano playing and music, but sometimes a bit nasty, outrageous, and too gossipy for my taste.

I heard one of his last concerts at the Mannes IKIF a few years before he died. The program included(I may be combining parts of two of his recital programs here) his transcription of Marcello's Adagio, Beethoven Sonata Op.10 No.3, Chopin Ballade No.1, Etincelles, and his transcription of the Mexican Hat Dance as an encore. He also gave a long interview with David Dubal afterwards.

He gave Alicia de Laroccha a copy of his Mexican Hat Dance while she was sitting outside the concert hall before the concert.
Posted by: Jeff Clef

Re: Earl Wild's Memoirs - 01/14/13 11:46 AM

"...a bit nasty, outrageous, and too gossipy for my taste..."

They never like competition.
Posted by: Hank Drake

Re: Earl Wild's Memoirs - 01/14/13 01:56 PM

I'll likely receive brickbats for this, but here is my review:

http://hankdrake.blogspot.com/2011/09/my-review-of-earl-wilds-memoirs.html
Posted by: argerichfan

Re: Earl Wild's Memoirs - 01/14/13 02:44 PM

Originally Posted By: Hank Drake
I'll likely receive brickbats for this, but here is my review...

Hank, thanks for the link. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, particularly the concluding paragraph.

After that, and several other mentions elsewhere of the book, I'd say it is much less of a priority for me. (Besides, too many other books on the waiting list.)
Posted by: Hank Drake

Re: Earl Wild's Memoirs - 01/14/13 03:00 PM

I really wish Wild's chapter on playing the piano would be published separately - say in a magazine or online. It's one of the best overviews on how to play the piano I've ever read.
Posted by: Jeff Clef

Re: Earl Wild's Memoirs - 01/14/13 07:20 PM

It was a thoughtful and honest review, Hank--- I'm sorry you've gotten grief for it, but that is the daily bread of the critical writer.

'Biographies of musicians' happens to be one of my favorite book species. I think maybe I'll take your advice and see if the library has this one, and make some careful selections from among Wild's Ivory Classics releases for my music library.
Posted by: RealPlayer

Re: Earl Wild's Memoirs - 01/14/13 08:16 PM

The book sounds like a must-read. Alas, there's so much reading to catch up on!

Rosen first...
Posted by: ronde des sylphes

Re: Earl Wild's Memoirs - 01/20/13 10:29 AM

I saw this thread last week whilst browsing but didn't have time to reply.

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
I read it when it first was published and would give it a slightly mixed review. Many interesting stories, important comments about piano playing and music, but sometimes a bit nasty, outrageous, and too gossipy for my taste.


I know what you mean, though I think it's not outright nasty. I like the book a lot, but I don't think it would necessarily be to everyone's taste.

I wrote a brief review of it last year, so I'll quote that:

"Firstly, two warnings! The book is not cheap (you do get over 800 pages!), and it's probably not for those of a prudish disposition either. There is a vast amount of scurrilous gossip within, written in an often waspish, though not malicious, tone. Horowitz getting caught stealing vegetables from his neighbour's garden, Virgil Thomson being arrested in a raid on a gay brothel, Lazar Berman rudely stuffing his face at a buffet, a flatulent conductor: it's all there, and much, much more! Personally, I think it's an absolute hoot, but some might find it a bit much. There is also name-dropping on a truly epic level.

The book is written in a conversational vein, liberally peppered with exclamation marks. I've seen some reviews where people have said it is crying out for a decent editor: personally I didn't mind the informal style, but it did nag me that he doesn't appear to know what a limerick is (not that his poetry is any better than doggerel).

He offers forthright opinions on a vast array of musicians, especially pianists and conductors. (In passing, there is a short chapter devoted to having a really serious go at Isaac Stern). I was amused to read his comments on "Al" "Brendull" and "ugh-text" (Urtext) but he is preaching to the converted in this department. Jorge Bolet, on the other hand, had a very fine military uniform, of which he was deeply jealous! Lang Lang is described as "the J-Lo of the piano".

Probably the best chapter is that on piano technique, phrasing and sound production (characteristically entitled "Banging is for the bedroom"!). I'll be reading that long after the tittle-tattle has outlived its amusement value.

In summary, 4/5: a great read which sometimes becomes too much. An inimitable account of one of the piano's individualists. Recommended to lovers of romantic pianism, with a few reservations."
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Earl Wild's Memoirs - 01/20/13 01:12 PM

Originally Posted By: ronde des sylphes
I saw this thread last week whilst browsing but didn't have time to reply.

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
I read it when it first was published and would give it a slightly mixed review. Many interesting stories, important comments about piano playing and music, but sometimes a bit nasty, outrageous, and too gossipy for my taste.


I know what you mean, though I think it's not outright nasty. I like the book a lot, but I don't think it would necessarily be to everyone's taste.

I wrote a brief review of it last year, so I'll quote that:

"Firstly, two warnings! The book is not cheap (you do get over 800 pages!), and it's probably not for those of a prudish disposition either. There is a vast amount of scurrilous gossip within, written in an often waspish, though not malicious, tone. Horowitz getting caught stealing vegetables from his neighbour's garden, Virgil Thomson being arrested in a raid on a gay brothel, Lazar Berman rudely stuffing his face at a buffet, a flatulent conductor: it's all there, and much, much more! Personally, I think it's an absolute hoot, but some might find it a bit much. There is also name-dropping on a truly epic level.

The book is written in a conversational vein, liberally peppered with exclamation marks. I've seen some reviews where people have said it is crying out for a decent editor: personally I didn't mind the informal style, but it did nag me that he doesn't appear to know what a limerick is (not that his poetry is any better than doggerel).

He offers forthright opinions on a vast array of musicians, especially pianists and conductors. (In passing, there is a short chapter devoted to having a really serious go at Isaac Stern). I was amused to read his comments on "Al" "Brendull" and "ugh-text" (Urtext) but he is preaching to the converted in this department. Jorge Bolet, on the other hand, had a very fine military uniform, of which he was deeply jealous! Lang Lang is described as "the J-Lo of the piano".

Probably the best chapter is that on piano technique, phrasing and sound production (characteristically entitled "Banging is for the bedroom"!). I'll be reading that long after the tittle-tattle has outlived its amusement value.

In summary, 4/5: a great read which sometimes becomes too much. An inimitable account of one of the piano's individualists. Recommended to lovers of romantic pianism, with a few reservations."
A very good and accurate description of the book IMO.