VIVALDI

VOICE OF THE BAROQUE

Short in length but long on scholarship, a ``life and works'' of the 18th-century Venetian master that belongs on the shelf of every serious music student. Robbins Landon, the distinguished musical archaeologist whose labors led to the rediscovery of much of Haydn's lost or neglected music, has also turned his attention recently to Mozart (1791, etc.). He now skips back a generation to focus on the composer whose name has become synonymous with the Italian baroque—not wholly new territory, since Robbins Landon also coauthored Five Centuries of Music in Venice (1991—not reviewed), but what prompted him to attempt a complete life of Vivaldi was the worldwide fascination with The Four Seasons. Prior to the 1950 Cetra recording of those four violin concerti, Vivaldi had been virtually forgotten for 200 years after having been buried in an unmarked pauper's grave in Vienna; today, he's one of the immortals. Yet Robbins Landon chooses not to speculate about the cause of the amazing ``Vivaldi renaissance.'' He's content to present a detailed, chronological, strictly factual biography, including Vivaldi's years as violin virtuoso and teacher of gifted orphan girls; his growing list of compositions; and his travels around Italy and, ultimately, Vienna—almost all undertaken in connection with his frustrated attempts to become established as an opera composer. Robbins Landon's method is to quote verbatim documents, letters, and dedicatory inscriptions in the original language (most are then translated): This exact but stern presentation may not appeal to the casual reader. The author inserts himself only long enough to recount his unsuccessful attempt to edit some of Vivaldi's many operas for modern presentation; he soon decided that the attempt was doomed. He notes that, unlike Haydn's operas and surely unlike Vivaldi's instrumental and religious music, Vivaldi's operas seem to offer little to contemporary listeners. But the author also has the good grace to hope that he'll be proved wrong. No fluff—just the facts and an invitation to explore the music. (Thirty illustrations)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-500-01576-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1993

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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