Erich Graf--Musician, Flutist, Advocate

A MEMOIR

Mostly hits all the right notes, with several strong chapters easily outweighing the occasional miscue.

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A look back on a life full of collaborative endeavors both onstage and behind the scenes.

In this solid memoir, Graf traces his influences and development as a professional artist and, more generally, as a human being. From his youth spent studying in New York City, he recalls the highly competitive culture that permeated Juilliard. He also provides unique perspectives for those who wonder about the inner workings of celebrated musical institutions: “In a jaded orchestral environment like the New York Philharmonic, only greenhorns and brown-nosers actually watch the conductor.” Eventually, Graf found his way to the Utah Symphony, where he performed as principal flutist for well over three decades. In addition, for 17 years he served as president of Local 104 of the American Federation of Musicians. Readers interested in this aspect of the lives of professional musicians may be disappointed by the section titled “President’s Messages—Local 104 Newsletters,” which presents fragments of union publications in a somewhat haphazard fashion, not even in chronological order. Instead, readers might benefit more by skipping to the tribute penned in 2011 by union attorney Joseph Hatch, which offers more cohesive, substantive details regarding Graf’s tenure as a labor leader. While the author’s recollections of childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood are certainly well-written and informative, the most noteworthy chapter is “Seven Essays on the Dénouement of the Graf Family and the Closing of the Family Home,” in which Graf returns to Ann Arbor in middle age to face the declines and deaths of his parents, including his mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s. This is a universal story told with power and heart, as in an eerie moment involving the possessions of a departed loved one: “I threw out my mother’s half-deteriorated alarm clock, and when I tossed the Hefty Bag with the forty others destined for junk, the alarm began ringing.” The strength of this moving section alone makes Graf’s memoir worth a read.

Mostly hits all the right notes, with several strong chapters easily outweighing the occasional miscue.

Pub Date: April 30, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4602-6233-7

Page Count: 120

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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NUTCRACKER

This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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TO THE ONE I LOVE THE BEST

EPISODES FROM THE LIFE OF LADY MENDL (ELSIE DE WOLFE)

An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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