Wagnerism: Art and Politics in the Shadow of Music by Alex Ross - Book Review

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Wagnerism: Art and Politics in the Shadow of Music By Alex Ross Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374285937
Availability: Special Order
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - September 15th, 2020

A triumph of scholarship, Alex Ross’s Wagnerism: Art and Politics in the Shadow of Music sets a new standard for cultural history. Ross, the New Yorker’s longtime classical music critic, follows his acclaimed history of modern music The Rest is Noise with nothing less than a panoptic view of the outsized cultural influence of Richard Wagner-the 19th century’s grandest artistic titan-on everything that followed. From Wagner’s earliest disciples, admirers, and sycophants (like prodigal son Nietzsche and early French champion Baudelaire) to the far reaches of his influence in Tolkien, Marvel movies, and vegetarianism, Ross crafts his own leitmotifs of themes, characters, and perspectives including Wagner’s role in gay culture, his notorious descendants, and his influence on all the major figures of modernist culture writ large. Centrally, Ross reckons with Wagner’s antisemitism, the long-reaching effects of his racist prose, and how, so entwined with Nazism, he became regarded as a kind of prophet for the coming of Hitler (a most devoted disciple to be sure). With propulsive prose, deft history-telling, and a crafty structure (starting at Wagner’s death and filling in with operatic summaries or background at always the right moment), Wagnerism becomes finally a brilliant examination of the tangled knot that is the interrelationship of art, politics, and history. ~ Reviewed by Dafydd Wood

The Indispensable Composers: A Personal Guide by Anthony Tommasini - Book Review

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The Indispensable Composers: A Personal Guide By Anthony Tommasini Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143111085
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Published: Penguin Books - November 5th, 2019

Whether played symphonic, sung operatic, or danced to, music spirits the sole space wherein people may wholly occupy the present. From Monteverdi and Mozart, through Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms, to modernism’s Bartok, New York Times music critic Anthony Tommasini provides a “personal guide” through such presence as seventeen classical composers have scored, profiling them, their art, and the 400-year history their genius has scaled. ~ Reviewed by Ray Marsocci

Mo' Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove by Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson - Book Review

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Mo' Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove By Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson, Ben Greenman Cover Image
ISBN: 9781455501373
Availability: IN WAREHOUSE - Usually Ships in 3-7 Business Days
Published: Grand Central Publishing - May 12th, 2015

I have to admit, I had never really listened to The Roots before reading this, but Questlove's descriptions of the music industry in the 90s and 2000s did not disappoint one bit! His knowledge and explanation of music history was fascinating and I hung onto his every word. I even wrote out a giant list of albums I need to listen to because of his brilliant recommendations. ~ Reviewed by Laura Knapp

It Gets Me Home, This Curving Track: Objects & Essays, 2012-2018 by Ian Penman - Book Review

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It Gets Me Home, This Curving Track: Objects & Essays, 2012-2018 By Ian Penman Cover Image
ISBN: 9781910695876
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Published: Fitzcarraldo Editions - November 19th, 2019

Is there anything left to be said about Prince, Elvis Presley, Steely Dan or Charlie Parker? As it turns out, plenty. These collected essays are thoughtful and heartfelt takes on a musical Mount Rushmore that tries to understand musicians as only a deep fan can. Penman's metaphors are as sharp as his wit, and he has a detective's eye for the telling detail. From a memorable image like Elvis going on a drug-fuelled visionquest in the desert to Parker conducting his life from the backseat of a cab to Prince regarding himself in a bathroom mirror, Penman mines facets that will send anybody who loves music back to their stack of vinyl. Hear with new ears. ~ Reviewed by Charles Bottomley

1973: Rock at the Crossroads by Andrew Grant Jackson - Book Review

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1973: Rock at the Crossroads By Andrew Grant Jackson Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250299987
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Published: Thomas Dunne Books - December 3rd, 2019

1973's musical riches mined in reverent detail. The Stones, the Who, and Led Zeppelin at their peak; Bowie and Elton gaining acclaim; Springsteen, Aerosmith, Kiss, and Queen getting started; punk, disco, and hip-hop brewing; while Watergate, Roe v. Wade, OPEC, and Vietnam grab the headlines. ~ Reviewed by Mike Hare

Year of the Monkey by Patti Smith - Book Review

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Year of the Monkey By Patti Smith Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525657682
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Published: Knopf - September 24th, 2019

I just spent six hours with Patti Smith in my car.
There is no better balm for getting unstuck, than to listen to someone clearly enlivened by aging, loss, death and elections. Admittedly, Patti's global walkabout In The Year of the Monkey. a memoir of her life approaching the age of 70, often blurs dream and reality - and I've not worked out the meaning of the candy wrappers yet - but still. This book has got soul, and I've listened to it twice. Aside from learning that she likes beans and eggs for breakfast, Patti writes with a raw and compelling lucidity about being, writing, gratitude and truth. Listen to it twice. ~ Reviewed by Nancy Scheemaker


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