Stravinsky: The Second Exile: France and America, 1934-1971

Stephen Walsh, Author
Stephen Walsh, Author Alfred A. Knopf $40 (709p) ISBN 978-0-375-40752-9
Reviewed on: 04/03/2006
Release date: 04/01/2006
Hardcover - 720 pages - 978-0-679-41484-1
Paperback - 715 pages - 978-0-520-22749-1
Paperback - 709 pages - 978-0-520-25615-6
Paperback - 132 pages - 978-0-521-40778-6
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In following Igor Stravinsky's journeys from Paris to America and from neoclassicism to serialism, critic and musicologist Walsh concludes his definitive two-volume account of the life of the most acclaimed composer of the 20th century. Details of the composition, performance, recording and reception of the works of this prolific period-neoclassical ones like Oedipus Rex, Orpheus and The Rake's Progress; serialist ones like The Flood, Agon and the Requiem Canticles-absorb the attention of both subject and author. Readers would benefit from some familiarity with Stravinsky's considerable oeuvre, as Walsh comments colorfully on the pieces, but he is mostly concerned with setting the record straight on dates, itineraries, motivations and who said what to whom. In doing so, he often takes issue with Robert Craft, Stravinsky's indispensable assistant, co-conductor and ghostwriter, whose published reminiscences have long stood as the most complete record of the composer's life. Walsh convincingly argues that Craft's intense personal involvement in Stravinsky's life-he describes their relationship as ""a miniature ecosystem""-makes him a biased witness or imprecise observer, and Walsh's meticulous consideration makes for a valuable corrective. Amidst all the data, Walsh also demonstrates a gift for lively metaphor that brings his subject to life in flashes-a doer rather than a thinker, a composer devoted to the purity of his art and a perpetually surprising creative genius. Highly recommended. 16pp of halftones, not seen by PW.
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