CADENZA: A Musical Career by Erich Leinsdorf

CADENZA: A Musical Career

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The noted conductor sails through the highlights of his career with a dispatch verging on brusquerie. From his Viennese student days Leinsdorf seems to have had a sharp instinct for the main chance; in any case he wasted no time parlaying an abbreviated quantum of experience as rehearsal accompanist, operatic coach, and ""musical assistant"" into a Metropolitan engagement. The route to a symphonic career was lengthier and more frustrating. The Boston Symphony years are recounted with a good deal of detail about management squabbles, contract negotiations, and the idiocies of RCA; Leinsdorf's tone softens only in describing the last few years of guest appearances. The private Leinsdorf is little in evidence: family matters are austerely suppressed, and such relationships as a 30-year friendship with Lyndon Johnson are barely sketched in. There is an oddly flattening egocentricity to this efficient, gossipy, often witty narrative; most other people appear not as independent personalities but as incidental steppingstones, gratifications, or--more often--nuisances. Still, there's a lot of informative material here: Leinsdorf's valuable insights into Toscanini's approach, his glimpses of Met box-office politics under the shaky aegis of Edward Johnson and the autocratic one of Bing, his wry analyses of orchestra-record company symbiosis. Brisk, amusing, a little chilly.

Pub Date: May 7th, 1976
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin