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Excellent Summer Reading


Marie Brown
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Sorry, that's not exactly light summer reading (The Inextinguishable Symphony), but I just finished it last week. I think that it is an important book and I haven't put it out of mind yet. The title in rather weak, and the jacket notes might make you think this is a sentimental love story, but it is not. Very readable, alot of research and history on a segregated organization the Nazis created for Jewish musicians and artists, and a very personal account of the author's parents survival.

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I was shocked yesterday to find a violin related book on the "new books" shelf at the local library. The book is "Stradivari's Genius" by Tony Faber. I read the first four chapters last night. So far it's mostly well known fiddle history, but he has an interesting theory on Stradivari's training. He suggests that Stradivari did not apprentice with Nicolo Amati, but rather with a wood carver in Cremona. He believes that Strad did some inlay work for Amati, and that was how he became involved in violins, only slowly moving into violin making as he continued wood carving work. This is based on census data which places Stradivari in the wook carvers household, not Amati's.

Generally an interesting read so far.

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I'll look for the Stradivari book after I've read the one on Bach. So much of the "common knowledge" about these old guys is really nothing more than speculation, and it's fun to read of ideas by current writers.

The Holocaust story is something of another matter, though its author does state that until he wrote the book, there were many things he didn't know about his parents. Isn't there an adage somewhere about history and interpretation?

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For a macro view of music in Germany during the Nazi period, I highly recommend two of Michael Kater's books: The Twisted Muse and Different Drummers. The first deals with classical and the second with jazz. They are both excellent and the first gives significant context to Goldsmith's book.

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Yes, that's a fun one; it's a heartwarming story and I learned a lot about pianos from it! On the topic of books about musicians & instruments, several of my other favorites are "Quartet", by Helen Drees Ruttencutter (about the Guarneri Quartet, written in the late 70s); Julian Lloyd Webber's "Travels With my Cello"; "Jazz Anecdotes" by Bill Crow, which is a collection of mostly funny stories from touring jazz musicians; and Arnold Gingrich's "A Thousand Mornings of Music", about collecting violins back in the 1960s. I doubt any of these are still in print, but ought to be available in a good library. -Steve

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If you're interested in reading some non-fiction stuff this summer, I'd recommend reading George Hart's "The Violin: Its famous makers and their imitators". There is a mixture of information about stringed instruments and some old anecdotes and stories. It's not a cheap book, being something of an antique nowadays, but it is available at an affordable price from musicforstrings.com as an e-book on CD.

musicforstrings.com

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