A sad story superbly chronicled.

CHOPIN’S FUNERAL

Poor Frédéric Chopin: so much talent, so much sorrow.

Eisler, a gifted biographer of artists and writers (Byron, 1999, etc.), strikes exactly the right elegiac tone on the first page of this slender volume, which opens with the Polish composer’s funeral in Paris in 1849. Eighteen years earlier, Chopin had arrived in the city an unknown, 21-year-old exile from Poland and immediately thrilled the elite of Orleanist France with two incandescent performances. The elite were just the ones he was after: though his music, like Beethoven’s, has long been considered progressive and even revolutionary, Chopin, writes Eisler, “had a horror of ‘the People’ as a force of upheaval or even change” and was “repelled by marginality: by poor Poles, by Jews, by the ill-dressed and ill-mannered, by coarseness or slovenliness, in art or life.” He was particularly offended by any suggestion that art should serve the cause of social justice or reform, a position championed by one of the most visible and popular artists of the time, novelist George Sand, “the daughter of a bird seller turned camp follower,” with whom the snobbish provincial immediately struck up a torrid affair without having read a word of her writing. Sand was a bit frightening, Eisler tells us, a cigar-smoking terror who all but devoured men; yet she made a perfect balance to the timid Chopin, who was rapidly becoming a superstar—and not just among the elite, but among young amateur pianists who rushed to buy his sheet music, so that the “tender, swaying rhythms of the mazurka became, along with all things Polish, the rage in Paris.” For many reasons, though, and none of them pleasant, Chopin’s and Sand’s love soon soured; each contributed to its collapse, which unfolds in these pages, like so much in Chopin’s life, as an inevitable tragedy.

A sad story superbly chronicled.

Pub Date: March 9, 2003

ISBN: 0-375-40945-9

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2003

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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