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Reading while Listening

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
I've been reading The Life and Death of Classical Music by Norman Lebrecht lately (Kindle download) and have enjoyed it.

It's Lebrecht's chronicle of why Classical music up and died (though I think it's far from dead) as a business venture. Then he lists the 100 most important recordings (not the best, just most important). I found that I already had a number of them in my collection and I enjoyed hearing and reading his comments at the same time. I've still got the 20 worst recordings to go.

I'm also looking forward to finding a number of recordings that he lists because he's peaked my interest in them.

Anybody else do this? What books would you suggest as similar?
post #2 of 4
Yes I do enjoy reading about the music I'm listening to. Whether it be in liner notes or a book or music guide, even a review of the album. Maybe an All Music Guide for the particular genre of interest, in your case Classical.
post #3 of 4
Mucho thanks for mentioning Lebrecht's book - I looked it up and snagged a used copy for $5 on eBay. Looks like an interesting read and I've got a couple family members who will want to read it afterward.

As for following along with a book, I sort of have with The Playboy Guide to Jazz and The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Jazz. Both have lots of recommendations for discs and I've bought many of them over the past few years.
post #4 of 4
I read Life and Death a couple of years ago when it came out. It was very, very interesting, and very, very depressing. To think that this art form that I love so much may be on its last legs is tragic. Yet, I see some real life in the industry, but it's just changed so much. Anyway, I read a lot of music books and here are two you might enjoy:

1) The Rest is Noise by Alex Ross. Engrossing history of art music in the 20th century, and how it related to the political scene and the other arts and society in general. Incredibly detailed and very interesting.

2) Classical Music in America, by Joseph Horowitz. Much information about the music scene, the decline of concerts, etc. Very interesting, and not without its controversy.

I enjoyed Lebrecht's list of the worst recordings, and one in particular stood out: Lorin Maazel's Mahler 2nd with the Vienna Philharmonic. I've always enjoyed that recording. But his take on it made me feel like I missed something. Major critics at the time it came out liked it, too. I emailed Lebrecht about it, and he agreed, that it's really not a bad interpretation, but was so struck by the icy atmosphere at the sessions that it's too bad it was made, that if things had cooled down, and peple weren't so angry, it could have been better.
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