Serving Genius tells the life story of Carlo Maria Giulini, one of the most renowned and beloved conductors of the twentieth century. Detailing Giulini's extraordinary professional career, Thomas D. Saler also chronicles Giulini's personal life, including his musical awakening while growing up amid the spectacular beauty of the Dolomite mountains, his years as a student in Rome's Academy of St. Cecilia, his conscription into the Italian army during World War II, his nine months in hiding for his anti-fascist and pacifist beliefs, and his selfless devotion to his wife, Marcella.
A humble master who shunned the limelight, Giulini took a deeply emotional and subjective approach to making music. Saler provides uniquely detailed analysis of Giulini's nuanced musicianship and the way he conveyed that musicianship to the orchestra through physical gestures. Meditating on the very art of conducting at which Giulini excelled, Saler discusses each of the conductor's major musical appointments, including stints with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, Vienna Symphony, and Los Angeles Philharmonic. The book also addresses his repertoire of choice, leadership style, and moral framework.
Drawing on extensive interviews with Giulini's family, music critics, arts administrators, orchestra members, and collaborating soloists, Serving Genius draws out the personal amid the professional life of this giant among twentieth-century conductors.