Rubinstein: A Life

Overview

Arthur Rubinstein's career was one of the longest and most successful in the history of musical performance. He was seven at his first concert, 89 at his last. A musical genius, he spoke eight languages, loved many women, befriended the famous, and inspired worldwide admiration. Yet this consummate, elegant musician was a man of tempestuous contradictions. Harvey Sachs's biography examines a figure whose narcissism and instinct for self-preservation contrasted dramatically with his innate generosity and enormous ...
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Overview

Arthur Rubinstein's career was one of the longest and most successful in the history of musical performance. He was seven at his first concert, 89 at his last. A musical genius, he spoke eight languages, loved many women, befriended the famous, and inspired worldwide admiration. Yet this consummate, elegant musician was a man of tempestuous contradictions. Harvey Sachs's biography examines a figure whose narcissism and instinct for self-preservation contrasted dramatically with his innate generosity and enormous charm. His technique was brilliant, but to career's end he tried to avoid the mechanical aspects of practicing and depended instead on inspiration and temperament to carry him over the rough spots. This thoroughly researched and entertaining book gives voice to varied points of view and creates a fully rounded portrait of a complex man whose best-selling autobiography left much of his story untold.

"Rubinstein's life deserves a definitive biography and Harvey Sachs has taken on the task with the Rubinstein family's blessing." (Hungry Mind Review)

Award-winning biographer Harvey Sachs has spent over a decade traveling the world in search of the man behind the legend, the artist behind the myth, and the secret life behind the memoirs. Sachs reveals not only Arthur Rubinstein's many humanitarian efforts but also his lavishly uninhibited love affairs, his fabled rivalry with Horowitz, and his often charged relationships with political leaders, royalty, and high society. Photos.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Pianist Arthur Rubinstein (1887-1982), apart from being a world-renowned performer for more than 65 years, also wrote a bestselling autobiography, My Young Years. Sachs, author of an admired study of Toscanini, is therefore up against formidable competition-and comes out of it with great credit. His study is detailed, fair-minded and vivid. Rubinstein was vastly egocentric in his private life, yet appeared genuinely transformed by his music-making, which seemed often to come across better on recordings than in person and helped make him the bestselling classical pianist ever. A tireless womanizer, he was middle-aged before he married a woman 22 years his junior and had children. In the last decade of his life, he began a liaison with a young English concert promoter, Annabelle Whitestone (now married to British publisher Sir George Weidenfeld). Rubinstein seems never to have overcome his sad childhood, but the pleasure he gave and continues to give to millions was his true legacy. The book includes an outstanding review, by the author, of Rubinstein's recordings and a fine discography by Donald Manildi. Photos not seen by PW. (Nov.)
Library Journal
For decades people who were fortunate enough to see and hear esteemed pianist Artur Rubinstein (1887-1982) perform left concert halls spellbound. Rubinstein went for the soul of the audience as he wrapped his soaring and spirited playing around each listener. His magnificent interpretation of Chopin remains without equal. Biographer and music historian Sachs (Toscanini, LJ 11/1/78; Music in Fascist Italy, Norton, 1988. o.p.) first heard Rubinstein play in 1959, but it was not until 1986 that he seriously considered writing a biography of Rubinstein. Not having primary source material from the musician's first 53 years was an obstacle (Rubenstein's papers were destroyed or lost when the Germans occupied his house during the war), but Sachs had the full cooperation of Rubinstein's wife, Nela, and access to a huge amount of source material that had accumulated after the Rubinsteins came to the United States. Since in his memoirs (My Young Years, LJ 2/15/73. o.p., and My Many Years, LJ 1/15/80. o.p.) Rubinstein occasionally changed some dates and facts, Sachs realized an added necessity of thoroughness in his research. The resultant biography is definitive and belongs on the shelf alongside those memoirs. Recommended for music collections in both public and academic libraries.-Kathleen Sparkman, Baylor Univ., Waco, Tex.
Alan Hirsch
Sachs' biography of Arthur Rubinstein (1887-1982) reveals him as generous, philandering, insecure, always seeking adoration, and the quintessential interpreter of nineteenth-and early-twentieth-century piano music. Born to Jewish parents in Lodz, Poland, Rubinstein was "abandoned" by them at "12, when he was sent to Berlin to study. He quit that five years later to embark on a world-wide career. Never a technician, Rubinstein concentrated on the emotion expressed by the music he played. He gained energy from being with other people, telling stories, playing music, and sight-seeing. Later, he coached younger pianists and promoted the careers of many. Although Sachs includes critical reviews of Rubinstein's recordings and a discography, he concentrates on Rubinstein's love affairs and relations with his family and friends, pointing out where the facts differ from Rubinstein's memoirs and arguably detracting some from his well-written biography's intimate exploration of Rubinstein, the man behind the music.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802115799
  • Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/28/1995
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 525
  • Product dimensions: 6.38 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.76 (d)

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