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THE FINAL YEARS, 1885-1893

The third and concluding volume of Brown's monumental study (1983, 1986) of the Russian composer—which combines detailed musicological analysis (including generous excerpts from scores) with thorough, if not especially penetrating, life-history. As Brown himself says, ``it is a paradox of the professional man's biography that its externals can become less interesting as its subject's distinction and fame grow.'' So it is here: much of this undramatic book chronicles Tchaikovsky's late-blooming conducting career and his many tours. Even more space is devoted to critiques of the operas The Queen of Spades and Iolantha; the ballets Sleeping Beauty (which Brown finds profound as well as beautiful) and The Nutcracker (which Brown clearly loathes); and the Fifth and Sixth Symphonies, the former a ``compromise'' between Russian soul and Western form, the latter an uncompromising triumph, ``surely the most truly original symphony to have been composed'' since Beethoven's Ninth. Throughout, Brown is properly cautious—but not unimaginative—about finding autobiography in the music. The composer's homosexuality is mentioned occasionally, matter-of-factly, downplayed (to a fault, perhaps) rather than overplayed as in last fall's speculative biography by Alexander Poznansky. And, as for Tchaikovsky's death, Brown finds suicide the ``inescapable conclusion.'' Not the last word, of course: glasnost is likely to open up previously closed Tchaikovsky archives. But, for now, a solid windup to the critical biography for serious students and knowledgeable music-lovers.

Pub Date: April 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-393-03099-7

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: April 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1992

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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