Perfect Pitch

Perfect Pitch : A Life Story

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Nicolas Slonimsky, pianist, composer, conductor, author, and lexicographer, was born in St Petersburg, Russia, in 1894. Pronounced a genius by his mother, he seemed destined for a professional career in music, but the 1917 revolution brought an end to his hopes, and his errant life took him south to Kiev, Yalta, Constantinople, and finally Paris, where he was hired as rehearsal pianist by the renowned conductor Serge Koussevitsky. He went to the United States in 1923, spending many years in Boston where he gained a dazzling reputation for conducting first performances of difficult works by such composers as Ives, Varese, and Cowell. Since 1937 Slonimsky has developed an international reputation as a writer on music, especially of gargantuan reference works such as Music since 1900 and Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians , of which he has edited the last three editions. His Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patters , an exhaustive compendium of modernistic melodic patterns, unexpectedly became a bible to jazz and rock musicians, bringing him into contact with, among others, Frank Zappa.
Perfect Pitch is an ironic commentary (or 'rueful autopsy' as the author calls it) on a life in which failure to fulfil the highest expectations of an over-ambitious mother is never allowed to obscure a story of real achievement in music. It is a book crowded with anecdotes, personal letters, and vignettes of his remarkable family and of the many famous men and women he has encountered. Slonimsky's relish for the odd, the arcane, the idiosyncratic is evident on every page, and the book is written with that blend of wit, spice, and irreverence which make Slonimsky's books, like his conversation, irresistable for the musical and non-musical reader alike. Readership: general readers, particularly those with an interest in musical life since 1900.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 272 pages
  • 157.48 x 233.68 x 30.48mm | 612.35g
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Ill.
  • 0193151553
  • 9780193151550

About Nicolas Slonimsky

About the Author Nicolas Slonimsky is author or editor of numerous books on music, including Music Since 1900, Lexicon of Musical Invective, Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns, and the redoubtable Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians.
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Rating details

35 ratings
4.42 out of 5 stars
5 49% (17)
4 46% (16)
3 6% (2)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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