Recent Reading – Two Memoirs

Two very different books with fascinating stories to tell:

Good Things Happen Slowly – Fred Hersch. A leading jazz pianist tells about not only his journey as a musician, but as a gay man and as a survivor of incredibly grave illness. His prose is no less finely shaped than his work at the piano. Like all the best writing about music, it made me want to go back to the music – in this case, both his recorded performances and his published concert music.

Here’s a live Hersch performance of “In Walked Bud”:

George Szell’s Reign – Marcia Hansen Kraus. As a native of Cleveland who just missed the Szell era, I was fascinated by this collection of tales describing the history of the Cleveland Orchestra in the mid-20th century. Szell’s autocratic leadership of the orchestra led to its supreme excellence, and the remembrances of many of the members of the orchestra gathered here shed light on what it was really like to work under the maestro. Kraus, the widow of Felix Kraus, an oboist in the Orchestra during the Szell days, has not written a dry scholarly book (though it is meticulously footnoted), but rather a very human portrait of an organization and its leader, doing us the service of recording the reminiscences of those veterans of the Szell era who are still among us.

Sunday Afternoon Miscellany

– go here for video on The Crossing, Donald Nally’s splendid new music choir here in Philly. They began their Month of Moderns today.

– first you say, ‘huh?” – but then you say, “of course.” You are reacting to news of The Cleveland Orchestras programs of Bruckner and John Adams at Lincoln Center next month.

– I will be heading up to NYC this week to hear Erwartung with Deborah Voigt and the NY Phil. Rachmaninoff Isle of the Dead and Shostakovich 1st also on the show. The Rachmaninoff and Schoenberg kind of go together; how will the Shostakovich fit?