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review 2018-06-14 09:23
Ecstasy: A Novel of Alma Mahler - Mary Sharratt

by Mary Sharratt


Near the turn of the 19th century, Alma Schindler yearns to make her mark as a composer. Female composers are unknown at the time, though new possibilities for women are opening up. She marries Gustav Mahler, who insists she give up her music as a condition of their marriage.


I liked the writing voice on this one right away. Alma had such enthusiasm that I wanted to see her achieve her dream from the start. The story takes us through her life as a young girl, her first love and her relationship with her various family members, but especially with her music.


It's not all upbeat though. Alma sacrifices a lot for her marriage and it's inevitable that she will question her decisions as time goes on. Mahler himself is a challenge to deal with and it was an era when women were expected to suppress their own needs and be supportive of a husband. Alma is a naturally passionate and creative person and this state of affairs can only clash with her natural inclinations.


I enjoyed reading this, despite the unhappy parts. The narrative kept my attention, even if at times I wanted to shake Alma and tell her she was making some bad decisions.


The historical note at the end was as interesting as the story itself. Alma was a woman ahead of her time, though her unfaithfulness in her marriages would bring a lot of criticism. She weathered some difficult times and gave her love to some of the top composers of her time. Some of her own compositions can be found on YouTube and I couldn't resist having a listen after reading this story. I found her 5 Lieder for voice and piano pretty amazing and can only imagine that if her music had been supported earlier in her life that she might have been recognised in history as one of the great composers herself, rather than just a shadow of her husband's accomplishments.

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review 2016-02-20 02:54
The Great Courses: A Brief History of Holiday Music [Audiobook]
Free: A Brief History of Holiday Music - The Great Courses,The Great Courses,Professor Robert Greenberg

I meant to listen to this in December but Christmas was...a very unholiday-esque and crazy time. This was free on Audible at the time and I had to try it. If it were longer (as it should have been!), I'd have bought it in a heartbeat. Professor Robert Greenberg was so easy to listen to and tied together "not" Gregorian chants, Handel's Messiah, and Tchaikovsky's Sugar Plum Fairy played on a celesta. The musical excerpts were wonderful and he used them well.


Greenberg includes, as a treat, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies' Country Dance from Eight Songs for a Mad King, which begins with a...disturbed version of Handel's "Comfort Thee My People". It's...something I've never heard before. If you're interested to hear more, here are a couple videos I've found about it.


Video explaining a bit about what's happening musically. (I highly recommend this!)


Video with just the music.


I may have to suddenly learn more about music.

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review 2013-06-23 00:00
The History Of Classical Music
The History Of Classical Music - Richard Fawkes It was really amazing listening , I wished if the book provided a short history of instruments and their developments through time .
It seemed to me that 20th century have messed up the whole Art, Poetry, Architecture and Music .
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review 2013-01-16 00:00
An Illustrated History of Music for Young Musicians: The Baroque Period
An Illustrated History of Music for Young Musicians: The Baroque Period - Gilles Comeau Wonderful basic overview of the Baroque musical period for the non musical types. Includes historical overview of the period, types of music and their evolution, bios of the major composers (includes, life history, greatest works, etc.)and listing of other composers. I centered my entire Baroque unit study around this book - supplementing with specific bios on Handel, Bach and Vivaldi. But if you want to teach your children about Classical music and know nothing - this book will help you get started and grow from there.
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review 2012-07-26 10:23
Johann Sebastian Bach: The Learned Musician
Johann Sebastian Bach: The Learned Musician (Norton Paperback) - Christoph Wolff Excellent! Best book about Bach I've read
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