As someone with an extremely limited knowledge of music I have always felt intimidated by classical compositions. I could not tell you the difference between a symphony and a concerto, but after listening to these lectures I have a much better appreciation of them.
The lecturer's delivery is a cross of Lewis Black and George Will--authoritative but wickedly funny. He actually made me laugh out loud a few times. His passion for these works comes through in every lecture.
The format he follows is a brief bio-sketch of the composer followed by snippets of music and commentary. When he says "notice how the composer uses dissonant harmonies to convey struggle" you can actually hear it. Each lecture is meant to be complete in itself allowing you to jump around, but I found listening beginning to end to be most convenient.
This is an ideal work for an audio book.
If you keep your expectations low this book can entertain you with short 1-2 min anecdotes from old Hollywood stars. Most of the material is from the 20-50s and even as a fan of that period I did not recognize several names.
The production is incredibly annoying--the reader has sycophantic tone and every story is punctuated by a burst of "ditty" music ("da-deet-deet-da-da"). You will hear that ditty about 200 times by the end of the book.
The stories are the sort you would hear from the PR department of a movie studio--not TMZ. There's no real dirty laundry, just funny stories and the occasional "Oh you scamp!" moment, but the author is clearly infatuated with his subjects--probably a little too much.
I love to read!
I almost put it down after ten minutes. It started out not connecting with my curiosity as it came begins as angry and resentful, and I just didn't feel like being a therapist for the writer. Then, it took a sharp turn into a magical and well written story about culture, time, people, bridges, energy and time. I couldn't put it down. The author is a truly gifted story teller with very keen insight into the wants, needs, and intrinsic values of people. Clearly bringing out avenues of adventure and humanity not explored before by any one else. Many parts of the book read like prose poetry for me. He opened the door to Vaudeville culture for me. The book was generous towards the good natures of people and unbiased. I would pre order without any hesitation any book forthcoming from this author. He has the gift and artistry to take the reader places they would not go without his vision, and loving story telling.
The narrator as well, annoyed me for the first five to ten minutes. But as the story got better so did the narrator. He did a great job and I cam to appreciate hearing the small breaths that popped up now and then. It made the experience more human and real.
You will not forget the book, or the voice. A real pleasure!