Some pieces of music survive; most fall into oblivion. What gives the ten masterpieces selected for this book their extraordinary vitality?
In this magisterial volume, Harvey Sachs, author of the highly acclaimed biography Toscanini, takes readers into the heart of ten great works of classical music—works that have endured because they were created by composers who had a genius for drawing music out of their deepest wellsprings. These masters—Mozart and Beethoven; Schubert, Schumann, Berlioz, Verdi, and Brahms; Sibelius, Prokofiev, and Stravinsky—communicated their life experiences through music, and through music they universalized the intimate.
By expanding our perceptions of these ten pieces—composed in the years between 1784 and 1966—Sachs, in lush, exquisite prose, invites us to consider why music stimulates, disturbs, exalts, and consoles us. He has lived with these masterpieces for a lifetime, and his descriptions of them and the dramatic lives of the composers who wrote them bring a heightened dimension to the musical perceptions of readers who may be casual listeners, students, professional musicians, or anyone in between.
About the Author
Harvey Sachs is the author or coauthor of eleven books and has written for The New Yorker, the New York Times, and the Times Literary Supplement, among many other publications. He lives in New York City and is on the faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.
Sachs ... takes readers on a breezy, informative tour of classical music . . . [in] a variety of genres . . . [E]ach selection ... provides abundant cultural and historical background and significant biographical detail [of the composer's life and the larger pantheon of musical greats]. Sachs’ lively prose will draw readers in . . . Heartily recommended to every serious lover of classical music.
— Edward B. Cone - Library Journal
An astute guide compiles a stunning repertoire of works... Esteemed music critic Sachs gets personal with this effervescent homage to some favorite works of “life-giving and affirmative” classical music. He chose these pieces, all in different genres, because he felt he had “something useful to say about them,” and he deftly shows how biography informed the music, each piece neatly fitting into its time and place... This judicious compilation of biographies and analysis is a thoroughly engaging read.
— Kirkus Reviews