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Intends to illuminate, through a representative sampling of masterworks, those themes, styles, and currents that give shape and direction to each musical age. Taking a critical perspective that challenges the wisdom of the field, the author sets the details of music--the chronological sweep of figures, works, and musical ideas-- within the larger context of world affairs and cultural history.
There have been biographies galore of the great Russian composer, beginning with the massive but highly selective one by his brother Modest, published less than a decade after Pyotr Ilyich's mysterious death in 1893. Holden's effort does not attempt to duplicate others in detail or in musicological insight. It is, rather, the work of a skilled journalist, author most recently of The Tarnished Crown: Crisis in the House of Windsor.This biography is well proportioned, clearly and often colorfully written and depends, as far as is possible a century later, on personal observation of places and re-checking of previous sources. Publisher's Weekly