IMMORTAL BOHEMIAN by Father Dante del Fiorentino

IMMORTAL BOHEMIAN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Too bad this comes within a year of the publication of George Marek's memorable (and superior) Puccini (Simon & Schuster- see report P. 21, 1951), but perhaps it can be sold as complementary to the earlier biography, with emphasis on a very personal kind of enthusiasm rather then on the music. The author, an Italian priest, seems almost obsessed with devotion for the robust and spontaneous composer, idol of his youth. The biography is based on personal conversations, as well as on research and hearsay, and rolls along companionably, with many anecdotes about this composer who preferred hunting to fame. He was not the solid citizen of many of his ancestors, some of them church musicians; he was addicted to fast automobiles, motorboats- and women. But from the time of a youthful visit to Pisa to hear Aida, he devoted his life mainly to music for the theatre. Father Dante's association with Puccini in their native Tuscany makes him highlight the scenes that belong to Tuscany:- Puccini's early rakish boyhood, the scandal when he takes a married woman as his mistress- and later marries her; his summers of shooting and fishing; the conviviality of the Club Boheme; the jealousy of his wife over his not-so-clandestine love affairs; his composing in secluded spots of his own choosing. His stature as a composer is here accepted rather than examined. Stories relating to the composition of La Boheme, La Tosca, Madame Butterfly show his long and uncompromising search for the right subject, the right treatment. In his admiration for Puccini, the author soft-pedals the perceptible flaws of character, and the value of the biography therefore lies in its lively genuineness rather than scholarship or depth. If this is a translation, the translator has caught the flow and color of the original, and -- though the idolatry obtrudes -- the book makes very good reading.

Pub Date: April 7th, 1952
Publisher: Prentice-Hall