Monday, August 01, 2011

Memorable Musical Memoirs

In answer to a comment left by Caroline, I have compiled a "starter" list of musical memoirs that I can guarantee to be interesting and entertaining reading. Some of these books are no longer in print (but they are in libraries, and some are on line). I have limited my list to memoirs by well-known "classical" musicians (there is also one librettist), and I didn't include anything that I wouldn't recommend very highly. The listing is alphabetical to avoid any kind of "ranking."

Andre Benoist: The Accompanist
Feodor Chaliapin: An Autobiography as told to Maxim Gorky
Feodor Chaliapin: Man and Mask
Lorenzo Da Pointe: Memoir
Carl Flesch: Memoirs of Carl Flesch (edited by Max Rostal)
Gary Graffman: I Really Should be Practicing
Paul Hindemith: A Composer’s World *
Oscar Levant: Memoirs of an Amnesiac
Oscar Levant: A Smattering of Ignorance
Nathan Milstein: From Russia to the West
Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Confessions
Dmitri Shostakovich: Testimony
Nicholas Slonimsky: The First Hundred Years
Ethel Smyth: Impressions that Remained
Steven Staryk: Fiddling with Life
Igor Stravinsky: An Autobiography
Joseph Szigeti: With Strings Attached
Henri Temianka: Facing the Music
Meredith Wilson: There I Stood With My Piccolo

* This is really more of a set of essays, but I feel that it belongs on this list.


Susan Scheid said...

What a wonderful reading list you've compiled here. I've bookmarked it for ongoing reference. Thank you!

nobleviola said...

I'd highly recommend Rostislov Dubinsky's (1st violinist of the Borodin Quartet for many years) Stormy Applause: Making Music in a Worker's State.

Elaine Fine said...

Thanks Charles! I read the Dubinsky memoir years ago (but I don't own it). I remember that it was a fabulous book.

Pauline Le Bel said...

Thank you for the thoughtful list. I would like to recommend Yehudi Menuhin's autobiography, Unfinished Journey. It's an older book but still fresh and full of insight into music making and living.

Elaine Fine said...

Thank you for adding the Menhuin autobiography to the list, Pauline. It certainly belongs there!