cover image Priest of Music: The Life of Dimitri Mitropoulos

Priest of Music: The Life of Dimitri Mitropoulos

William R. Trotter. Amadeus Press, $29.95 (532pp) ISBN 978-0-931340-81-9

Greek-born Mitropoulos (1896-1960) was one of the great American conductors of the midcentury, and it is astonishing how little his memory is regarded in his adopted land. Perhaps this obscurity is attributable partly to his self-effacing personality. His extraordinary musical gifts included an almost supernatural memory, a degree of involvement that transfigured players and audiences alike and a sense of duty to contemporary composers that made his concerts challenging and, to orchestra boards and old-time symphony subscribers, frequently daunting. His happiest years were spent in Minneapolis, but lack of careerist guile made him easy pickings in New York City: the critics were bewildered by him, the New York Philharmonic players were disrespectful of him and even his record company treated him badly. It did not help that he was homosexual and chose not to enter a cosmetic marriage. Music critic and novelist Trotter, who had access to the late Oliver Daniel's considerable research on Mitropoulos, has presented a compassionate, judicious and moving portrait of the conductor. Photos not seen by PW. (Sept.)