Thought Catalog

The Thoughtful Reader

The Thoughtful Reader moves in the groves of academe, leaving occasionally for forays into the realities of ...

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Life is a valuable, irreplaceable, first-hand account of over fifty years of rock ‘n roll history, filled with insights about music making and music makers and told by one great high octane artist who emerges from these pages as endearing, if not lovable

She goes on to say that “when she [Pamela] became pregnant he took her to the north of Norway and drove for miles over bumpy roads with the inevitable result of a miscarriage.”   Unity (“always the odd one out,” says her sister), fell madly in love with Hitler and, when Britain declared war on Germany, she shot herself in the head with a pearl-handled revolver in a Munich park…

Norwich is a born storyteller with a narrative gift and very considerable charm. It may just be that his own beloved nanny told him what Nancy Mitford’s told her before pushing her into a room full of people: “Remember, you are the least important person in that room.”

He credited her with teaching him how to breathe, and his voice became what we all now remember.  She was an ethereal Violetta to his Alfredo, a magnificent Lucia to his Edgardo, a melting Desdemona to his Otello.  When they were joined by the brilliant American mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne, the fireworks never stopped.

The writing is so fresh, so honest, so revealing, that at times the reader may feel that he should not be reading these notes – it is almost a violation of a cherished intimacy and, like the greatest of loves, something not meant to be known to any but the participants themselves.

Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990), conductor, composer, author and pianist, was one of the very few American musical talents to achieve and maintain an international reputation.  Most often associated with the New York Philharmonic, where he served as music director from 1957 to 1969, Bernstein enjoyed a close professional relationship with both the Vienna Philharmonic and the Israel Philharmonic.

Mid-twentieth century European classical music was dominated by four titan-conductors:  Arturo Toscanini, Wilhelm Furtwangler, Willem Mengelberg, and Herbert von Karajan.  Toscanini, refusing to have anything to do with Fascists or Nazis, fled to the United States.

This is not your blockbuster, let’s get the bodies into the museum summer show; rather, it is a thought-provoking, intellectually engaging experience in contemplation, consideration, and connection. “Picasso Looks at Degas” is a magnificent exhibition…

Carefully groomed for diplomatic service – certainly talented at it, with an elegant, engaging manner, shrewd powers of observation and negotiation, and command of many languages – and favored by Pope Benedict XV and Pope Pius XI, Pacelli’s star rose until it outshone nearly all others. He became the most important Roman Catholic prelate in Germany, prior to his appointment as Vatican Secretary of State in 1930. Why, then, problems with the cause for his sainthood?

Bon vivant, raconteur, dandy, and wit, William Somerset Maugham ( 1874- 1965), was probably the most prolific, certainly the most financially successful English writer of the twentieth century. Creator of the spy story in his Ashenden stories and chronicler of sojourns abroad in his travel essays, novelist of character and manners, Maugham dined out on his stories for years, always a sought-after guest for weekend house parties and formal dinners.

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