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Jacket Blurbs

Last updated 26 July 2012

“A joy to read: well-conceived, well-executed, well-written. Holoman’s combination of musical and literary skill brings twentieth-century culture to life through, on both sides of the Atlantic. ‘Ah, qu’il était beau!’ and he still is, in Holoman’s vivid biography.”

—Thomas Kelly, Harvard University

“Charles Munch—the musical icon. When you played a concert with Charles Munch or attended one of his performances as a listener, it was not just a concert. It was an event. He never used the same palette twice. As a player, you had to give 110% of yourself, or be left out of the music. This book is an excellent portrayal of this musical phenomenon!”

—Vic Firth

“The qualities that marked D. Kern Holoman’s biography of Berlioz and his epic The Société des Concerts du Conservatoire—the grand sweep combined with the minute attention to detail, the narrative flair, the breadth of human sympathy, the evocation of the musician’s existence, which, as himself a conductor and organiser of concerts, he understands so well—shine out in this new book. Charles Munch’s life, spanning three continents and two world wars, raises fascinating issues—personal, social, political, as well as musical. Reading it, we learn both about the teeming, intricate world of mid-twentieth-century music and about the struggles and achievements of one of its best-loved and most committed practitioners. Holoman has a remarkable story to tell and he tells it superbly.”

—David Cairns

“Among its other virtues, D. Kern Holoman’s warmly sympathetic new biography sheds necessary light on an already forgotten chapter from the history of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Few readers of this book will be prepared to discover what was expected of a Boston Symphony music director as of 1949, when Charles Munch took over from Serge Koussevitzky—Munch was to stay put in Boston; guest conductors were a rarity. And there was new music on virtually every subscription concert. A lot has changed since then.”

—Joseph Horowitz, author of Classical Music in America: A History

“A fascinating read. Holoman’s passion for and knowledge of his subject is quite compelling. In contemporary discussions of the great conductors of that era, Munch tends to be relatively overlooked. Holoman makes a persuasive historical case for Munch’s importance, both to musical life in France and to the evolution of the Boston Symphony. Along the way, he also provides a detailed look at what life was like for conductors (and orchestras) in the middle part of the 20th century.”

—Aaron Sherber, Music Director and Conductor, Martha Graham Dance Company