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My Life and Music by Artur Schnabel

My Life and Music

by Artur Schnabel

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262644,411 (4)None
Highly readable reminiscences, musical philosophy of great pianist: his experiences as a child prodigy in turn-of-the-century Vienna, concert career, thoughts on great conductors and composers of the day, preferences in the repertoire, much more. Also includes "Reflections on Music," address delivered at University of Manchester, 1933. Introduction by Edward Crankshaw. 20 illustrations. Index.… (more)



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Schnabel's memoir is in two parts. The first part is a set of lectures that he gave at the University of Chicago and the second part is in interview format. I found his narrative interesting and well told, although Stefan Zweig has a better portrait of growing up in Vienna in his memoir, The World of Yesterday. Schnabel's life in music is the attractive aspect of this book and it is worth reading for the insights that he shares. This book will enhance my enjoyment of recordings of Schnabel's interpretations of Beethoven and other composers. ( )
  jwhenderson | May 15, 2013 |
This book is compiled from 12 lectures Schnabel gave at the University of Chicago in 1945. The first half is a more-or-less chronological, but brief, story of his life. The second part of the book consists of questions and answers after each lecture. Schnabel emerges as a very intelligent person, though his formal education was quite meager. His opinions on piano playing are always interesting and always very definite. You won't agree with them all, but he certainly earned the right to have them!

He professes to have very little knowledge of anything outside of music, but it is certainly interesting to listen to the Austrian-born Schnabel talk about his 30 years in Germany, which he left after Hitler came to power, and his own experiences during the First World War, when he continued to give concerts in nations that were allied or remained friendly to Germany. His reminiscences of his first tours of the United States are also interesting. As for music in general, he bemoans the fact that people don't play music in their homes anymore, since he feels that the home is the ideal, intimate setting for chamber music.

There are a few anecdotes about other famous musicians or conductors, and Schnabel loves telling stories in general, so this is a very quick, entertaining read that only rarely gets into the technicalities of piano playing. He professes to be mystified, for instance, about what anyone is talking about when they speak of the "German" method or "Russian" method of piano playing.

I read this book after reading Leon Fleischer's autobiography, where he mentions Schnabel, who was his teacher. Fleischer receives a brief, unnamed mention in this book. ( )
  datrappert | Jun 12, 2011 |
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