One Maestro’s Journey: A Celebrated Life of Music and Ingenuity

Heinrich Hammer. Still Life Enterprises, $19.95 trade paper (330p) ISBN 978-0-6920-5150-4
In this expansive posthumous memoir, musician Hammer (1862–1954) tells of his long, productive life as a conductor of numerous orchestras in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Written by Hammer at age 90, the manuscript was revived by his granddaughter Melinda Monaghan, who offers a stirring introduction describing Hammer’s childhood in Erfurt, Germany, where his soldier father died of a horse fall before his birth and his young mother lived in a sanatorium until he was nine. In straightforward prose, Hammer writes of bouncing around between relatives and schools until he began to focus on music at a local conservatory, and—after travels to Italy, France, and Sweden—decided to become a conductor, “developing it step by step, ripening it through experience and study.” Hammer found work throughout Europe and Scandinavia, conducting the Gothenburg Symphony and the Berlin Philharmonic, among others. He moved to L.A. in 1907, where he conducted the L.A. Philharmonic and lived in Hollywood for the next five decades. Throughout, Monaghan contributes sidebars contextualizing Hammer’s life as well as brief biographies of notable musicians. Hammer’s wonderful memoir captures turn-of-the-20th-century music as well as the passion of an artist. (BookLife)
Reviewed on : 05/09/2019
Genre: Nonfiction
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