by Oliver Daniel ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 1, 1982
Having long been revolted by the sycophantic tone of some biographies of conductors, I vowed not to produce a Stokowski panegyric."" So begins longtime Stokowski colleague Daniel. But, aside from some good-natured comments on the great conductor's vanity and shifty self-promotion, this massively detailed, imaginatively researched, cheerfully chatty biography is very much pre-Stokowski (more so than Abram Chasins' 1979 profile)--especially when it comes to musical matters or the rivalry with Toscanini. Armed with intriguing, wide-ranging interview-material from Stokowski family-members and colleagues (though ex-wife Gloria Vanderbilt remains mum), Daniel moves slowly--but never too sluggishly--through each decade of the epically long Stokowski life. He gives the fullest discussion yet of Stokowski's mostly-English background, with amusing details on his transformation into a ""born-again Slav."" He defends, moderately persuasively, the notorious musical liberties taken in Stokowski's performances and transcriptions. He pays tribute to Stokowski's resilience in the face of ""multiple professional slaps."" He painstakingly examines the varied career: from Cincinnati to Philadelphia, from N.Y. to Houston and back; on tour after tour; the many orchestras; the thorny devotion to contemporary music; the few ventures into opera (with a spirited, if biased, discussion of the Stokowski/Bing quarrels over Turandot at the Met); the movie work; the innovations; the lapses at rehearsals; and the run-ins with Toscanini--whose ""duplicity"" Daniel rails against repeatedly. As for the private life, there's sketchy treatment of the Garbo affair (as in the Chasins book) and a quietly pro-Stoki view of the Gloria breakup--but little that's new or probing. And there's perhaps an out-of-proportion emphasis on the projects that brought Stoki and Daniel together. But, while far too long and leisurely for casual music fans or those interested in the flashier aspects of the Stokowski life-and-career, more serious students of 20th-century music-making will revel here--in the scads of anecdotes (from far-flung sources), in the score-by-score detail, and in Daniel's genial, un-gushy, winking admiration for the wily, still-elusive Stokowski.
Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1982
Page Count: -
Publisher: Dodd, Mead
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1982
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