Recommendations for good biography of violinist or composer
Wondering if anyone could recommend a good biography of a violinist or composer. Perhaps one that does not require a degree in music to understand the contents. I know biographies are usually not technical tomes, but, just a caveat.
There are a number of them available I believe. I have one of Haydn which isn't too technical (jargon wise).
I really love the Wolfgang Hildesheimer biography of Mozart (so, both violinist and composer...). Not a conventional biography, but also not one that requires a music degree, either.
I strongly second the recommendation of Hildesheimer's Mozart book. It is way better than most biographies I have read.
Composer George Antheil's autobiography, 'Bad Boy of Music' is supremely entertaining.
Two autobiographies: Violinist Josef Szigeti, "With Strings Attached", shows how different the music business was in the first half of the 20th century. Pianist Oscar Levant "The Unimportance of Being Oscar" is a window on the Hollywood Golden age. Very witty, half-crazy,invited to all the parties, and was rehearsal pianist/assistant for George Gershwin.
Leopold Auer's Violin Playing as I Teach it (1921) is pretty much a waste of time unless you are a completist/obsessive.
I second the recommendation of Szigeti's "With Strings Attached", particularly the 2nd Edition (for which I compiled the discography). Also interesting is David Tunley's biography of Alfredo Campoli: "The Bel Canto Violin".
I can't recommend a specific biography, but I would say read about Beethoven. Knowing his story completely changed the way I see his music.
I haven't read a full bio of a famous violinist or composer in a long, long time. But I'm sure there is a treasure trove of such bios.
Composer? I recommend Duke Ellington's memoir, "Music is my Mistress". The book "great contemporary pianists speak for themselves" was wonderful too. I read it twice.
My go to book for biographies of violinists is "Great Masters of the Violin". This is a sweeping work by Boris Schwarz published in 1983 covering the virtuosos of the violin from the early 1600s to the date of publication. Despite the breadth of the work he is also able to cover the lives of the violinists in surprising depth.There's a lot of grist here for the cerebral mill and the material will inspire readers to investigate further into the the lives of these individuals
Arnold Steinhardt's "Indivisible by Four"
Read about Louis Spohr. He was a violinist, composer, and contemporary of Beethoven.
Thank you all. I'm leaning towards that Mozart biography, because I know a little more about him, but maybe I should go for something I don't know.
The Hildesheimer Mozart biography (make sure you spelled it right when you searched...) is best for someone who knows a little about the subject, because it is unusual and goes into remarkable detail. I don't know, I'd be tempted to send you my copy, but I really treasure the thing. Several versions on Amazon... https://www.amazon.com/s?ie=UTF8&field-keywords=hildesheimer%20mozart&index=blended&link_code=qs&sourceid=Mozilla-search&tag=mozilla-20
Am I alone in hating the movie Amadeus? I've seen it twice and both times I felt insulted afterwards.
Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven