RUBINSTEIN: A Life in Music by Harvey Sachs

RUBINSTEIN: A Life in Music

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Sachs is explicitly out to set the record straight in this detailed, scholarly biography of the legendary pianist. At the end of his long life and almost as lengthy career as one of the century's greatest keyboard virtuosos, Arthur Rubinstein (1887-1982) authored two bestselling autobiographies, My Young Years and My Many Years. Readers who mistrusted the tone of continuous joie de vivre that characterized these books will find this serious ""life and works"" by music biographer Sachs (Toscanini, 1978, etc.) a welcome corrective. Rubinstein was not above fudging, misremembering, or glossing over the facts if it served his purpose of a more congenial self-portrayal. His many and notorious love affairs involved more infidelity than he let on. He was a thoughtless (if guilt-ridden) son, a mediocre, self-involved father, and an errant husband. Sachs is no basher, however, and he never forgets that this big baby was not a bad man. He was also the possessor of a huge, God-given talent that manifested itself before Rubinstein was five and that, to his credit, he never abused. And while the fan-magazine crowd will enjoy the extensive coverage of Rubinstein's international celebrity, social life, and numerous amours, music lovers will find nourishment in Sachs's extensive research into Rubinstein's concert vita, his artistic development, and his repertoire choices. Best of all, particularly given the difficulty of writing meaningfully about how any given pianist actually sounded, is the extensive discussion (one-fifth of the book's length) of Rubinstein's ""recorded legacy,"" accompanied by a truly excellent discography (compiled by Donald Manildi, curator of the International Piano Archives) of Rubinstein on 78, LP, CD, and even reproducing piano roll. Sachs's comments on his own experience with Rubinstein's playing, both live and on record, are balanced, thoughtful, and honest in their overt subjectivity. A book with something for almost everyone, and a worthy incentive to investigate Rubinstein's unique artistry.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1995
Page count: 528pp
Publisher: Grove