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The Life and Death of Classical Music
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The Life and Death of Classical Music

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  121 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
In this compulsively readable, fascinating, and provocative guide to classical music, Norman Lebrecht, one of the world's most widely read cultural commentators, tells the story of the rise of the classical recording industry from Caruso's first notes to the heyday of Bernstein, Glenn Gould, Callas, and von Karajan.

Lebrecht compellingly demonstrates that classical recordi
Paperback, 324 pages
Published April 10th 2007 by Anchor Books (first published April 5th 2007)
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Nov 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: music

Norman Lebrecht is a curmudgeon of British extraction. Some find the music critic lovable, others hatable. I had heard his name whispered through the library stacks for years until somehow stumbling across his blog, Slippedisc (dot com), whose multiple daily posts covering the world of classical music are, over the course of a week, dull, businesslike, informative, humorous (mostly in the comments), clickbaitish, typo-filled. Lebrecht doesn’t hesitate to descend himself into the comments in orde
Aug 08, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: music
Can this straightforward, reasonable book really be by the nasty author of The Maestro Myth? I suppose Lebrecht has mellowed over the years––not enough for the founder of Naxos, mind you, who brought legal pressure to bear and prevented the book's release in Britain, claiming that the section dealing with his company is full of egregious errors. Lebrcht must rue the day when he stopped maligning the safely unlitigious dead.

But really, having been so repelled by his earlier work, I am amazed to f
Mar 31, 2011 rated it really liked it
Witty history of the rise and fall of classical music, and how its fortunes were affected by the times, as well as the cast of personalities involved.
Jim Lewis
Jul 05, 2017 rated it liked it
A fascinating, but marred history of classical music recording. As such, it is glaringly misnamed, for it is neither a history of classical music, as such, nor of the attendance and financial plight of many orchestras. It is about recording, and as such is a very interesting account. But it has its flaws.

Norman Lebrecht is a British cultural critic who sometimes runs so close to gossip that he might be thought of as the Hedda Hopper of classical music. This book was first published under the ti
Feb 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
A delightfully bitchy history of recorded classical music, from Caruso to Church. Coming to this material as a complete novice, I found that Lebrecht bounced around between events a bit too unevenly for my liking, and the story he tells rarely feels like a well-constructed timeline. However, I'm willing to look past that because his writing is full of personality and I felt like I got to know the characters presented in this story. The history is great, and just as good is his list at the end of ...more
Tony Gleeson
Feb 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
I've enjoyed Norman Lebrecht in his earlier books-- "Discord," "The Maestro Myth"-- where he's consistently been witty, engaging, cynical, informed, opinionated and quirky. He carries through in this telescoped history of classical music recording. It can get a little confusing, what with so many characters and events being rattled off at breakneck speed, and there's seldom a question of how he really feels about any of the artists or executives included. Lebrecht means "death" in a quite litera ...more
Mar 04, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2010-reads
This book would have been better (for me) if it concentrated on the best 10 or 20 classical recordings - and went into much more detail -than a paragraph or 2. I found the political history and how it affected not only composers, conductors and other musicians but recording companies as well, really interesting.

I quite enjoy Mr Lebrecht's writing style - I just wish that he went into way more detail on why the recordings were chosen,
Jul 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
An interesting read which seeks to pull the curtain back on the world of classical music recording and expose the politics and characters behind them. This book would have the most relevance to those with knowledge of classical music. The (necessarily subjective) best and worse recordings list is interesting, if not always agreed.
Oct 28, 2016 rated it liked it
Lebrecht has real flaws -- he's smug, overly opinionated, and far too prone to talking in superlatives. However, he also clearly loves this music, and knows it better than almost anyone else alive. His recounting of the back-room machinations behind classical recording is fascinating, and I enjoyed the list of great recordings to check out.
May 25, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone with ears
Behind the scenes history of the twentieth century recording industry heard through the ears of classical music.

Reminded me why I don't own some of these masterpieces, and made me want to get them.
Ross Mckinney
Nov 03, 2016 rated it liked it
A not very exciting history of the classical record/CD industry. I was interested in the topic, but this is short on details when it should have them, long on catty insider stories when they aren't that interesting. I'd pass.
Guillaume Bourgault
Nov 26, 2010 is currently reading it
Already loving it: witty!
Jan 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A shimmering whistle-stop tour of a century of culture-defining recorded classical music. How it came about and why it finally killed itself. Essential reading for classical music lovers.
Jun 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
Really gives you an idea of how the classical culture and industry operate. And the 20 worst are amusing.
Linda Gaines
Jul 09, 2013 rated it liked it
Interesting to see the author's take on the death of classical music and his "best" recordings. I have a few of them.
Mar 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
What is the 100 Best and 20 Worst is not the important,most reasonable is the view of the author.
Rin Saunders
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Norman Lebrecht (born 11 July 1948 in London) is a British commentator on music and cultural affairs and a novelist. He was a columnist for The Daily Telegraph from 1994 until 2002 and assistant editor of the Evening Standard from 2002 until 2009. On BBC Radio 3, he has presented from 2000 and The Lebrecht Interview from 2006.

He has written twelve books about music, which have been t
More about Norman Lebrecht
“To listen through aural debris to Francesco Tamagno (1850–1905), Verdi's original Otello, or to Alessandro Moreschi (1858–1922), the last castrato, is a fascinating experience but one that cannot be endured for much longer than holding one's head down a wishing well. The pitch is wobbly, the static obtrusive and any impression of the singer's musicality requires an imaginative leap on the listener's part.” 0 likes
“Among the gifts on the table was a DVD recording of the late Carlos Kleiber, a conducting titan who had cost our departing friend millions of dollars in cancelled projects.” 0 likes
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