The Ivory Trade: Music and the Business of Music at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition

Joseph Horowitz, Author
Joseph Horowitz, Author Summit Books $21.45 (289p) ISBN 978-0-671-67387-1
Reviewed on: 01/01/1990
Release date: 01/01/1990
As a ``ballyhooed epitome'' of music popularization, the Cliburn contest in Fort Worth, Tex., shapes perceptions and wields enormous influence, yet Horowitz ( Understanding Toscanini ) concludes that there are better ways of encouraging pianism and that the Cliburn competition cannot recover ``the Romantic dream of the piano.'' Drawing on interviews with contest organizers and participants, extensive reading and his own observation of the 16-day 1989 competition, Horowitz describes the phenomenon and evaluates its artistic effects. After comparing various competitions, he demonstrates that, as a talent showcase, the Cliburn is impressive at enticing media coverage but doesn't necessarily help the winning pianists. By contrast, the now discontinued Leventritt Competition, held in New York City, didn't court popularity yet set higher standards and produced more outstanding musicians, including Cliburn himself. Lively, opinionated, controversial but fair. (Sept.)
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