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Steve_W

Summer Reading Thread

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The last few years the topic of books for Summer reading has come up around this time so I thought I'd start it up again and hopefully get some suggestions for my upcoming vacation. Have you read any good books--especially anything related to music--lately? Personally I've been re-reading Paul Adam's "The Rainaldi Quartet" (published in GB as "Sleeper"). Great murder mystery involving the possible discovery of another "Messiah" violin... -Steve

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I read that book Bel Canto by Ann Patchett a couple of years ago. It was pretty great. (music themed)

Umm, right now I'm reading Clive Brown's book on Classical and Romantic Performance Practice: 1750-1900. I highly recommend it!

I lived near a comic shop in San Francisco, so for the past two years I've been reading comic books. Brian K. Vaughan just finished his series, Y: The Last Man. One of his other series, Runaways, still ongoing, was recently guest authored by Joss Whedon. And not that I'm expecting anyone going out on a comics binge, but, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that it's a pretty good idea to check out (comic authors) Paul Pope, Frank Miller, and Alan Moore as well.

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There is a recently published book on string pedagogy that may be interesting. The focus is 'cello, but the Amazon reviews suggest that the ideas in the book are universally applicable to string pedagogy. The author is sending me a copy:

Watkins, Cornelia: Rosindust: Teaching, Learning and Life from a Cellist's Perspective

You've probably already read (?):

For more extensive list, see:

Violinist's Library

and

Adult student reading list

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"The Glory of the Violin" by Joseph Wechsberg is worth a read.

"The Violin Maker" by John Marchese is a bio of Sam Zygmuntowicz.

"Paganini" by Leslie Sheppard is a good bio of the man.

"The Violin Hunter" by Wm Silverman is a bio of Tarisio, the man, not the auction house. Not particularly scholarly, but the only book I'm aware of devoted to this important figure.

"Violin-Making" by Edward Heron-Allen is of interest to me as it recounts the methods of the late 19th century. While much may have changed, the fact that its exponents were working at about the halfway point between Stradivari and today makes it worth a look.

And I love "The Rainaldi Quartet". Great summer reading.

Rather further afield, Patrick O'Brian's wonderful series of historical novels regarding the adventures of violinist and naval officer Jack Aubrey and his cellist friend Stephen Maturin during the Napoleonic Wars will keep you reading well into the winter months. Great stories, wonderful writing and solid 3-dimensional characters combine in what may be the best historical novels ever written. Sort of Jane Austen on testosterone.

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I found Oliver Sacks's Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain very engaging. He's a neurologist who has documented some truly remarkable patholgies related to music.

HS

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Highly recommend an older book: "Beethoven and his Spiritual Development" by J.W.R. Sullivan. Very interesting insights into Beethoven's musical growth until his dying day. Also "The Way They Play" series.

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Rather further afield, Patrick O'Brian's wonderful series of historical novels regarding the adventures of violinist and naval officer Jack Aubrey and his cellist friend Stephen Maturin during the Napoleonic Wars will keep you reading well into the winter months. Great stories, wonderful writing and solid 3-dimensional characters combine in what may be the best historical novels ever written. Sort of Jane Austen on testosterone.

This is exactly true, and make no mistake, the literary quality of the best of these novels is widely acknowledged to transcend the genre by a vast distance.

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A second for "The Glory of the Violin". This actually made it on the Best Sellers list in the 70's. I remember all my Youth Orchestra musician friend's parents were passing it around, raving about it. Really an eye opener for those who don't know much about the instrument and an interesting read for those who who do. You gotta admit, we play the coolest, most beautiful instruments ever created.

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I read "Sleeper" a couple years ago, and would like to find some similar good, but a bit trashy, novel with violin-makers, Venice, murder, Italian meals, and Sunday-afternoon sex on the workbench. :) Well, Steve, it was part of the book. I have read many of the serious books - - Glory of the Violin is great -- but what about summer reading?

Before the movie came out, I read one of Patrick O'Brian's books, later in the series, where I think the author assumed readers would be familiar with the characters. I wasn't. Should try one of the earlier novels.

What about The Art and Practice of Explosion? It seems to be out of print. Is the story line related to violins?

I did read one novel somewhat relative to the topic: Fiddler's Ghost, by Mitch Jayne. A new, old-fashioned Ozarks ghost story. You really have to check your credibility to read this, but it does have a del Gesu. Very G-rated. It's best to read it, imagine sitting around the fire while trying not to burn mashmallows, listening to the story.

Mitch Jayne was the bass-player, story-teller in the Dillards, a bluegrass band in the 60s. They actually got a bit of nation-wide fame by appearing in a recurring role as the Darling family in the Andy Griffith show. Hard not to like the guy, so I give the story some credence on that bend.

Cheers,

Ken

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In the old forum it was possible to pull a discussion thread into a Word document.

In that circumstance, I think a folder full of Yuen's fixit posts (aka Fellow) would be high on my 'must haves'...

----------------------

Alternatively, David Laurie's "Reminences of a Fiddle Dealer". Taken with a pinch of salt it is highly digestible.

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JM Falkner's "The Lost Stradivarius" is a 19th century classic tale of a music and a violin that leads its players into profligacy and evil ways. Certainly most of us can relate to that thesis.

While I prefer to leave this kind of reading for late fall and winter, with long dark nights and the sound of the wind in dead branches, anything that might induce a shiver on a hot summer's day might make for a pleasant summer read.

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"The Art and Practice of Explosion" so far contains no mention of a violin. It seems to be a book about how people tell their life stories to themselves, always with modifications that bring out what they perceive to be some sort of pattern.

It's framed as a retrograde "Bridge of San Luis Rey" sort of thing. Three characters who survived a horrific event meet up twelve years later. Their pre- and post- horror stories are woven together, along with more "histories" of the places they've been. There are even tales about the historic train they ride during their re-union.

This is an ambitious scheme for a writer, I think. "Out of print" doesn't surprise me. There are chapters in the book that are beautiful - real short-story gems. Other sections are so overwrought I suspect that the author is trying to make us laugh, but I'm not sure. Being inclined to overwroughtness myself, I do laugh, cause I really need to laugh.

The serious book on my gonna-read list is Priceless: On Knowing the Price of Everything and the Value of Nothing by Frank Ackerman and Lisa Heinzerling. Now that the dog days are here, I'll have time to check it out from the library, give it a wide-awake reading, and turn it in without renewals or fines. That resale table in the lobby has provided me with plenty of future winter night reading, at 30 cent apiece for lovely hardbacks.

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Thanks, Bob -- I just ordered a copy of the Lost Stradivarius. If I don't get to it until the fall, then I still have something to look forward to. There is also a newer book with the same title, written by Martin Fine. Has to do with Nazis and the 'secret' of Stradivari. I'm still reading about The secret on Pegbox, so held off on buying that one.

Marie, thanks for the description. Will keep an eye out for it. I almost hate buying books these days, but our library is hard to get to, and since I live out of city limits, they charge about $65 per year for a card. Been downsizing lately, and I have gotten rid many things, including probably a (literal) ton of books that I liked but will never read again. Decluttering, and enjoying having some space in the place. But, books, tools, and fiddles are still my downfall.

Cheers,

Ken

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Summer is here again; every year is the same and different. The price of Rescue-Me hardbacks from the library has dropped to zero, and now they land by the boxload right next to a room where I teach. One night last winter I thought I was dreaming, culled for hours, and walked out with eighteen beauties.

Today at home, one of my students walked in with a copy of his uncle's book, autographed especially for me. Fiddler's Ghost. No person raised on Missouri lore could fail to be moved.

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I got the first version of the Amazon Kindle; you can get a book for $9.99 in about 10 seconds. I'm reading a lot of health, economics, politics, business, body building, entrepreneurship, psychology, animal rights. I put all my favorite books on there: all the Bertrand Russell, Thomas Freidman, Sam Harris, Dennett, Hutchins, Dawkins. It's really easy to run up a $2,000 bill, but it's great to have all that material in one little package like that.

What many people don't know, Kindle also offers a lot of free books, classics which are in the public domain. Things like da Vinci's Notebooks, and tons of novels, poetry and historical works. You can get complete sets of (for example), Darwin, Gibbon, Kipling, Virginia Wolfe, Shakespeare. It's absolutely amazing.

Regarding newly minted NY Times bestsellers (or any other book), you can get a free sample, which includes a good chunk of the beginning, to determine if you'd like to read it.

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Speaking of books, has anybody seen the film based on The Soloist? The one about a homeless musician in downtown L.A.?

I have not seen it; I'm waiting for it to come out on HBO. I could be wrong (I'm frequently wrong about things), but my sense is that I would not like it. I like Jamie Fox, but this film doesn't ring true to me, somehow. I guess part of it is, I grew up in poverty, and the allure or romanticism of poverty doesn't appeal to me. It's scary, to me.

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Mingloo, the story is true, he was born here in Cleveland, trained as a musician at the finist schoold and then fell to homelessness not as a result of poverty but of mental illness, he was befriended by the writer who wrote a series of articles about him then the book, the two are still friends and the man is recovery some of his former life, meeting up with family still in Cleveland. I hear its a very good movie as well as a good book.

Reese

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I liked the book quite a lot!

This reviewer doesn't seem to think that the film has captured the spirit of the book:

http://crosscut.com/2009/05/12/social-services/18999/print/

Yes, my guess is the movie, like so many American films, has a happy ending. This has no relation to life, and all relation to making money. Jamie Fox is an able musician, and he's just doing this job. Robert Downy Jr. is a tragic figure due to childhood abuse, but has overcome a lot of his background. Still, I am sick of the violence in films and on tv, the ugliness, and the bs.

What's particularly annoying is when actors are consulted about political or economic matters. They're actors! It's absurd.

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I saw "The Soloist". While somewhat entertaining, with some beautiful cinematography, it seemed a bit TV movie-ish to me. It is amitious and it's a great story but there is a lack of depth and reality in the characters which made me compare it to TV movies. It doesn't have the "happy ending" problem, which was good. I didn't enjoy it nearly as much as other mainstream music movies such as Shine, The Red Violin, or Amadeus which all had their problems too, but were much more captivating, entertaining and engrossing.

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No one seems to have mentioned this:

A thousand mornings of music; the journal of an obsession with the violin

Author: Arnold Gingrich

A delightful read by an excellent writer.

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