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Marc Blitzstein: His Life, His Work, His World Hardcover – Sep 15 2012

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (Sept. 6 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199791597
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199791590
  • Product Dimensions: 23.9 x 5.1 x 16.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 975 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,142,803 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"This comprehensive book about the life and music of the sadly neglected composer Marc Blitzstein is, as well, an invaluable guide to the workings of American arts during the composer's lifetime." --Edward Albee, playwright

"Marc Blitzstein was a friend, from the moment we first met in 1946 until he died eighteen years later. Now he lives again in Howard Pollack's pages. As a composer he was one of a kind, with his whistleable tunes encased in wise formality, and his bodily presence, so happy and so sad." --Ned Rorem, composer / author

"A timely and invaluable study of a composer we need to know more about. I marvel at Howard Pollack's capacity--as with his biographies of Copland and Gershwin--to digest and synthesize a wealth of information, copiously gathered." --Joseph Horowitz, author of Classical Music in America: A History

"A strong biography." Playbill

"A brilliantly researched new biography." --Jewish Daily Forward

"Beautifully written, drawing on new interviews with friends and family of the composer, and making extensive use of new archival and secondary sources, Marc Blitzstein presents the most complete biography of this important American artist." --Newreads

"Now, Pollack has made Blitzstein happen, just as he succeeded in his comprehensive studies of Gershwin and Copland." --Jewish Herald Voice

"[An] exceptionally researched, detailed, and important study of this fascinating, complex, and still relatively unknown composer who well deserves a book of this quality." --Notes

"In this comprehensive, sensitive, and beautifully written biography, Howard Pollack scrutinizes every part of Blitzstein's complex personal as well as public life, sustaining his well-deserved reputation as our foremost biographer of American classical composers." --Judith Tick, Matthews Distinguished University Professor, College of Arts, Media, and Design, Northeastern University

"Pollack has already told us everything we need to know about Copland and Gershwin. Now he scrutinises Blitzstein in the context of his entire cultural and political scene in fascinating and impeccably researched detail." --Peter Dickinson, Emeritus Professor of Keele and London Universities

"A thorough biography." --DC Theatre Scene

"Now, Pollack has made Blitzstein happen, just as he succeeded in his comprehensive studies of Gershwin and Copland." --Jewish Herald Voice
26 "Beautifully written, drawing on new interviews with friends and family of the composer, and making extensive use of new archival and secondary sources, Marc Blitzstein presents the most complete biography of this important American artist." Newreads

"The fluidity of prose, moving between established fact and new interviews and critical ideas, is remarkable, making for a book that is rivaled only by Pollack's biography of Aaron Copland...A momentous achievement indeed...Highly recommended." --Choice

"An eventful and rewarding voyage of immersion into the life and work of an important American composer." --New Music Connoisseur

"Especially valuable..." --Dance Chronicle

"Howard Pollack's new biography offers a veritable breath of fresh air, for it introduces clearly and exhaustively the multifaceted qualities of this enormously inventive and surprisingly prolific composer...With its detailed discussion of musical sketches and compositions, its insightful use of archival sources, its ethnographic approach based on new interviews with Blitzstein's friends and family, and its wonderfully selected collection of photographs, Pollack's biography significantly deepens our knowledge of a charismatic composer."--Journal of the Society for American Music

About the Author

Howard Pollack is John and Rebecca Moores Professor of Music at the University of Houston and author of John Alden Carpenter: A Chicago Composer; Aaron Copland: The Life and Work of an Uncommon Man; and most recently, George Gershwin: His Life and Work.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa703a3cc) out of 5 stars 6 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa72a3d44) out of 5 stars Amazing contribution to American music history Dec 17 2012
By Jack C - Published on
Format: Hardcover
At a brisk 500 pages, Howard Pollack has done it again. In addition to his comprehensive biographies on John Alden Carpenter, Aaron Copland and George Gershwin (as well as a wonderful early book on Harvard composers), Pollack has created a true masterpiece with "Marc Blitzstein: His Life, His Work, His World." What I love most about Pollack's work is his ability to appeal to both scholars and laymen alike: his assessment of Blitzstein's contributions to American music as well as his social conscientiousness during an integral time in American history is impressive and masterfully crafted. Pollack's portrayal of Blitzstein, a significant composer who has, unfortunately, fallen into obscurity amidst our rapidly changing society, makes us contemplate what other American treasures have been cast into the shadows of our all-to-quickly depleting cultural memory. We can only hope that Howard Pollack continues writing books about other forgotten gems of American music, but regardless of his subject, Pollack's work is not to be left unread: it's just too darn good.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa7198fa8) out of 5 stars Required Reading Dec 29 2012
By Daron A. Hagen - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As one who has spent a lifetime musically trawling the same professional and aesthetic waters as Blitzstein (music-theater, the Curtis connection, the unstable tonality gambit, and so forth) he has served as an example (both positive and negtaive) for me over the years. In light of that, from Eric Gordon's wonderful book to this irresistable and crucial one by Howard Pollack, I've followed the literature about MB closely.

This book should be required reading for every young composer thinking about a career writing music theater, any artist devoted to the proposition that good art can effect positive social change. (Blitzstein was a shining example of that.) It should also be required reading for contemporary conductors, who sometimes abrogate the normal order of things by directing the creative efforts of the living composers with whom they collaborate. (Blitzstein brooked none of that.)

I find it an essential addition to the literature, and am grateful to Howard Pollack and to Oxford for creating it and bringing it out.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa74cae88) out of 5 stars Top drawer! Jan. 21 2013
By RdRydngHd - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wonderful biography about a gifted composer, written by a gifted biographer. I always want more photographs in biographies, but that's just me...
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa72079b4) out of 5 stars If you don't really know Marc Blitzstein this is for you Feb. 19 2013
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
No matter how well you think you know Marc Blitzstein or how much you like his music, you will find out so very much in this book and come to love and respect him even more for his wonderful contribution to music.
HASH(0xa72b7e1c) out of 5 stars I had high expectations and this did not disappoint Oct. 3 2013
By Noah Luna - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
One of the most pleasurable biographies I have yet read. Comprehensive, thoughtful, and provocative, this book led me into to world of one of my favorite, albeit often overlooked, composers. My gratitude to Mr. Pollack for his work. Blitzstein had been given a fine tribute in this offering.