Fifth Avenue Famous: The Extraordinary Story of Music at St. Patrick's Cathedral

Fifth Avenue Famous: The Extraordinary Story of Music at St. Patrick's Cathedral

by Salvatore Basile
     
 

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Victorian-era divas who were better paid than some corporate chairmen, the boy soprano who grew up to give Bing Crosby a run for his money, music directors who were literally killed by the job-the plot of a Broadway show or a dime-store novel? No, the unique and colorful history of St. Patrick's Cathedral.

Since its inception more than 125 years ago, the

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Overview

Victorian-era divas who were better paid than some corporate chairmen, the boy soprano who grew up to give Bing Crosby a run for his money, music directors who were literally killed by the job-the plot of a Broadway show or a dime-store novel? No, the unique and colorful history of St. Patrick's Cathedral.

Since its inception more than 125 years ago, the Cathedral Choir has been considered the gold standard of liturgical music-an example of artistic excellence that has garnered worldwide renown. Yet behind this stately facade lies an intriguing mix of New York history, star secrets, and high-level office politics that has made the choir not only a source of prime musical entertainment but also fodder for tabloids and periodicals across the nation. In this unique and engaging book, readers are treated to a treasure trove of vibrant characters, from opera stars from around the world to the thousands of volunteer singers who brought their own hopes and dreams-and widely varying musical abilities-to the fabled choir.

As the city's preeminent Catholic institution, St. Patrick's Cathedral has served one of the most dynamic and diverse communities in the world for well over a century. It has been intimately entwined with the history of New York: a major center of culture in the nation's cultural capital. The Cathedral Choir provides an extraordinary and largely overlooked insight into this history, and in Salvatore Basile's pitch-perfectexploration it becomes a microcosm for the larger trends, upheavals, and events that have made up the history of the city, the nation, and even the world.

Basile also illuminates the choir's important role in New Yorkers' responses to some of the most momentous events of the past one hundred years, from world wars to world's fairs, from the sinking of the Titanic to 9/11, as well as its central role in the rituals and celebrations that have made life in the city more joyful-and bearable-for millions of people over the decades.

While the phrase church choirusually evokes the image of a dowdy group of amateurs, the phrase Choir of St. Patrick's Cathedral has always meant something quite different. Salvatore Basile's splendid history shows just how different, and just how spectacular, the music of St. Patrick's is.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
". . . Filled with facts that add to the legend of the Cathedral."-Handing on the Faith

"The story of the music at St. Patrick's Cathedral has now been told in a new and richly detailed book."-Catholic New York

"This fascinating chronicle is not only a history of arguably the most visible Catholic church in the world, but indeed all New York's colorful church music landscape, from the earliest recorded days to the present. Basile's very colorful style makes what could easily be a dry subject into a most enjoyable ride through thick and thin times, grand occasions, countless famous personalities, and of course the ever-present church politics. A must read for any American Catholic church musician!"-Scott Turkington, Director, The Church Music Association of America

"Mr. Basile's tome bulges with facts, anecdotes and legend, beautifully woven into a fine narrative covering the period from 1879 to 2010. Thoroughly researched, well documented and wonderfully written, Basile provides the reader with continuous amazement and hilarity. You will not find a better opportunity to 'read between the lines' than in this book."-McNeil Robinson, Chair of the Organ Department, Manhattan School of Music, Director of Music, Church of the Holy Trinity (Roman Catholic)

"Fifth Avenue Famous: The Extraordinary Story of Music at St. Patrick's Cathedral (May, $29.95) by Salvatore Basile examines the 125-year history of its choir."-Publishers Weekly

"Basile's writing style and effortless wit projects New York City's civic, musical and ecclesiastical spirit as only a New Yorker would view it."-Stephen Rapp, Director of Music, St. John's Lutheran Church, Stamford, CT

"Salvatore Basile offers a well-written, engaging history of one of the most important churches in New York City, entwining its narrative with a greater one that encompasses elements of the history of media, culture, and religion on a national scale. He also introduces readers to significant church musicians whose lives and music resonated beyond the walls of the St. Patrick's to liturgical arenas as far away as St. Peter's in Rome."-Denise Gallo, Head of Acquisitions and Processing Section Music Division, The Library of Congress

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780823231898
Publisher:
Fordham University Press
Publication date:
05/14/2010
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
1,283,204
File size:
5 MB

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What People are saying about this

Stephen Rapp
Basile's writing style and effortless wit projects New York City's civic, musical and ecclesiastical spirit as only a New Yorker would view it. (Stephen Rapp, Director of Music, St. John's Lutheran Church, Stamford, CT)
Denise Gallo
Salvatore Basile offers a well-written, engaging history of one of the most important churches in New York City, entwining its narrative with a greater one that encompasses elements of the history of media, culture, and religion on a national scale. He also introduces readers to significant church musicians whose lives and music resonated beyond the walls of the St. Patrick's to liturgical arenas as far away as St. Peter's in Rome. (Denise Gallo, Head of Acquisitions and Processing Section Music Division, The Library of Congress)
McNeil Robinson
Mr. Basile's tome bulges with facts, anecdotes and legend, beautifully woven into a fine narrative covering the period from 1879 to 2010. Thoroughly researched, well documented and wonderfully written, Basile provides the reader with continuous amazement and hilarity. You will not find a better opportunity to 'read between the lines' than in this book. {McNeil Robinson, Chair of the Organ Department, Manhattan School of Music, Director of Music, Church of the Holy Trinity (Roman Catholic)}
Scott Turkington
This fascinating chronicle is not only a history of arguably the most visible Catholic church in the world, but indeed all New York's colorful church music landscape, from the earliest recorded days to the present. Basile's very colorful style makes what could easily be a dry subject into a most enjoyable ride through thick and thin times, grand occasions, countless famous personalities, and of course the ever-present church politics. A must read for any American Catholic church musician! (Scott Turkington, The Church Music Association of America)

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