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#1796721 - 11/27/11 01:21 PM Suggest good biographies.
Jame334 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/18/11
Posts: 142
Suggest biographies that you consider to be excellent. They would of course be about composers and performers.

I myself am looking for good biographies about Mozart, Liszt, Beethoven and Chopin.

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#1796770 - 11/27/11 02:57 PM Re: Suggest good biographies. [Re: Jame334]
AldenH Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/22/11
Posts: 412
Loc: Texas
I'm a big fan of Glenn Plaskin's (himself a concert pianist) biography of Horowitz. It can get a little dry, talking ad infinitum about contracts and record labels, but the many fascinating anecdotes about Horowitz and those in his circle more thank make up for it.

A biased but interesting book is Speaking of Pianists by Abram Chasins. It's not a biography per se, but instead is an extended Op-Ed style work in the first person: he talks at length about the state of the classical music world when the book was published (1950s and then an addendum in the 1961 edition), aboutHofmann (who he reveres) and other 'golden age' pianists, as well as putting forth some commentary on a large portion of the standard repertoire (mostly concerti, but also mentions solo works) as well as the 20th century piano repertoire up to the publishing of the book (which he has considerable disdain for) that is fun to read. Pretty biased toward the old romantics, but it's an entertaining book all told. Midnight parties at Godowsky's penthouse are a highlight...

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#1796779 - 11/27/11 03:24 PM Re: Suggest good biographies. [Re: Jame334]
kuifje Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/20/11
Posts: 110
Nothing better than a biography OF Chopin BY Liszt.

http://books.google.com/books?id=Cev8kdK...p;q&f=false

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#1796879 - 11/27/11 07:06 PM Re: Suggest good biographies. [Re: kuifje]
Damon Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/22/06
Posts: 6114
Loc: St. Louis area
Originally Posted By: kuifje
Nothing better than a biography OF Chopin BY Liszt.

http://books.google.com/books?id=Cev8kdK...p;q&f=false


I haven't read it yet, but for those of you with a Kindle, it's a free download!
_________________________
It's been scientifically proven that Horowitz sucks.

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#1797493 - 11/28/11 09:25 PM Re: Suggest good biographies. [Re: Jame334]
LeaC Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/13/11
Posts: 413
Loc: USA
Jeremy Siepmann's biographies are very good, and include a CD. I've read his biographies of Beethoven and Mozart, and thought they were great.

http://www.jeremysiepmann.com/?page_id=6

Benita Eisler wrote an excellent biography on Chopin titled Chopin's Funeral. It is a rather short book brimming with details about Chopin's social and romantic life, leading up to the time of his death.
_________________________
Working on: Reworking Bartok's Suite Opus 14, Chopin's Polonaise Op.40, The Military (so much fun!)

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#1797524 - 11/28/11 10:03 PM Re: Suggest good biographies. [Re: Jame334]
Bech Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/24/10
Posts: 844
Loc: Indiana
'Horowitz His Life and Music' by Harold C. Schonberg.

Schonberg was senior music critic for the New York Times for many years. He observed Horowitz for over 50 years.

He also authored 'The Great Pianists' and other books.

Last (partial) sentence of the book: "....that is why he was the dominant force in piano playing for the last half of the twentieth century."

Bech


Edited by Bech (11/28/11 10:04 PM)
_________________________
Music. One of man's greatest inventions. And...for me, the piano expresses it best.

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#1797569 - 11/29/11 12:09 AM Re: Suggest good biographies. [Re: Jame334]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7792
The huge, three-volume bio of Liszt by Alan Walker is very good.

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#1797582 - 11/29/11 12:56 AM Re: Suggest good biographies. [Re: Jame334]
Michael Taylor Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/05/11
Posts: 363
Loc: Discovery Bay, California
King of Ragtime: Scott Joplin and his Era by Edward A Berlin. I bought the Kindle version for $9.99. The book seems to be well researched and makes for an interesting read.
_________________________
Piano obsession started November 2010.
Ragtime Butcher
Kayserburg U123
http://www.youtube.com/user/michaelt3032


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#1797838 - 11/29/11 04:00 PM Re: Suggest good biographies. [Re: Damon]
kuifje Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/20/11
Posts: 110
Originally Posted By: Damon
Originally Posted By: kuifje
Nothing better than a biography OF Chopin BY Liszt.

http://books.google.com/books?id=Cev8kdK...p;q&f=false


I haven't read it yet, but for those of you with a Kindle, it's a free download!


Also for anyone with a webbrowser.

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#1797866 - 11/29/11 04:40 PM Re: Suggest good biographies. [Re: kuifje]
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19271
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: kuifje
Nothing better than a biography OF Chopin BY Liszt.

http://books.google.com/books?id=Cev8kdK...p;q&f=false
Sounds interesting in theory, but I found it virtually unreadable because of the flowery style and sentences several times the length found in ordinary writing. I'm not sure if Liszt actually wrote it either... I recall reading it was written by a female friend of Liszt(unless I'm confusing it with another book).

The best bio of Chopin I've read is Chopin in Paris.


Edited by pianoloverus (11/29/11 04:41 PM)

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#1797989 - 11/29/11 08:25 PM Re: Suggest good biographies. [Re: kuifje]
Damon Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/22/06
Posts: 6114
Loc: St. Louis area
Originally Posted By: kuifje
Originally Posted By: Damon
Originally Posted By: kuifje
Nothing better than a biography OF Chopin BY Liszt.

http://books.google.com/books?id=Cev8kdK...p;q&f=false


I haven't read it yet, but for those of you with a Kindle, it's a free download!


Also for anyone with a webbrowser.


Well, yes, you've already shown that. smile I mentioned it for people who don't like to read (too much) online. The Kindle is easy on the eyes and can be read in broad daylight.
_________________________
It's been scientifically proven that Horowitz sucks.

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#1798057 - 11/29/11 10:39 PM Re: Suggest good biographies. [Re: pianoloverus]
argerichfan Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 8850
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: kuifje
Nothing better than a biography OF Chopin BY Liszt.

http://books.google.com/books?id=Cev8kdK...p;q&f=false
Sounds interesting in theory, but I found it virtually unreadable because of the flowery style and sentences several times the length found in ordinary writing. I'm not sure if Liszt actually wrote it either... I recall reading it was written by a female friend of Liszt(unless I'm confusing it with another book).

I couldn't get through the book, and it seems to have vanished from my library. According to Harold Schonberg:

In 1852 Liszt brought out a biography of Chopin, probably written in whole (and most certainly in part) by his mistress, the Princess Carolyne Sayn-Wittgenstein

I have little reason to doubt this (backed up by what I have read elsewhere), and have less reason to doubt that the Princess was not a very likeable, or intelligent, woman.
_________________________
Jason

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#1798081 - 11/29/11 11:16 PM Re: Suggest good biographies. [Re: Jame334]
James Scott Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/22/09
Posts: 158
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
"The Great Pianists" by Harold Schonberg (as has already been mentiooned) is a fantastic read. Also, "Mozart: His Life and Times" by Peggy Woodford is an excellent book. Then of course, there's Franz Mohr's book, "My Life with the Great Pianists".

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