ISBN is

978-1-886228-24-5 / 1886228248

The Cleveland Orchestra Story: "Second to None"

by Donald Rosenberg

Publisher:Gray & Company, Publishers

Edition:Hardcover

Language:English

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About the book:

Among America's great symphonic institutions, the Cleveland Orchestra is not only one of the best, but one of the youngest. Founded by the formidable impresario Adella Prentiss Hughes in collaboration with the city's industrial and political leaders, it made its public debut in 1918. This book tells the story of the Cleveland's rise from modest beginnings to a position of undisputed preeminence among international orchestras.

Its first guide and mentor was the Russian-born violinist and conductor Nikolai Sokoloff. His contribution to its growth and expansion has been overshadowed by the great, often colorful maestros who succeeded him: Artur Rodzinsky, Erich Leinsdorf, Lorin Maazel, and, currently, Christoph von Dohnányi. However, it was the imposing, authoritarian George Szell who, in his 24-year tenure, left the strongest imprint on the orchestra, developing its matchless technical perfection, transparency, and balance, and forging it into "his instrument" as a world-class group.

Donald Rosenberg follows the orchestra's triumphs and tribulations--musical, personal, financial--in a rehearsal-by-rehearsal, concert-by-concert, recording-by-recording, dollar-by-dollar account, listing every program, every conductor, every soloist, in exhaustive, frequently exhausting detail. He describes the behind-the-scenes squabbles and intrigues; the conductors' strengths, weaknesses, and idiosyncrasies; the hiring and firing of players; the incessant labor conflicts between musicians and management, and, sadly, between musicians and their own union. Abundant quotes from both local and, later, worldwide newspaper reviews and commentaries reveal the extraordinary influence of the press on internal and public policy, which Rosenberg, himself the music critic of a Cleveland newspaper, casually takes for granted; his own opinions and preferences come through clearly, if obliquely. His writing is lively and informative, though it occasionally lapses into repetition and even contradiction.

The book includes copious notes, the orchestra's discography, the premieres it has performed, and--best of all--the names of its members through the years. So many of them have gone on to making successful careers as soloists, chamber musicians, orchestral leaders, and prestigious teachers that the list induces constant shocks of recognition: proof that the Cleveland Orchestra, though rooted in the seemingly inhospitable soil of a Midwestern industrial city, has always attracted and nurtured outstanding musical talent. --Edith Eisler

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