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Reactions to Reverberations: Interviews with the World’s Leading Musicians by Robert Jacobson

Reverberations: interviews with the world's leading musiciansReverberations: interviews with the world’s leading musicians by Robert Jacobson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A generally engaging collection of medium-length interviews with a cross-section of leading classical musicians in the early ’70s. Many of the interviews seem to have been conducted for Opera News, though Jacobson also speaks with instrumentalists and orchestral conductors. The style is not “US Weekly” – Jacobson focuses almost exclusively on artists’ professional pursuits, giving views into their personal lives only when relevant to their careers (such as where they studies and where they choose to perform). All of the artists are active when interviewed, though they range from early in their careers (Placido Domingo, Michael Tilson Thomas) to the late (Ljuba Welitsch, Leopold Stokowski). Opera fans will enjoy the interviews with Martina Arroyo, Dorothy Kirsten, Jess Thomas, and other New York stalwarts.

Taken as a whole, the book communicates an coherent and interesting view of the classical music industry in the late ’60s/early ’70s, especially in New York City. There’s an underlying uncertainty about whether the increasingly academic style of mid ’50s composers would catch on, the relevance and roles of the symphony orchestra and opera house after the cultural upheaval of the ’60s, and the increasing professionalization of international musicians.

Though it’s not a general interest book, Reverberations would appeal to armchair historians of the American performing arts industry and to concertgoers who saw and heard these artists in their primes.

View all my book reviews on Goodreads here

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