Author and narrator Jeremy Siepmann leads a large, talented cast through this behind-the-scenes biography of the popular classical music composer. The perfectly chosen narrators play their parts with professionalism and subtlety in the extraordinary drama of the great man's life. Siepmann lets his authoritative voice and knowledge of the subject lead listeners through the inspiring rags-to-riches story. Most enlightening are the letters between Dvorak and his contemporaries as the narrators portray them. Secrets are revealed with heightened emphasis and portentous pauses, letting listeners feel the rhythm of the conversations.
One of the best-loved composers of all time, Dvorák rose from rural origins to become not only a great but an influential composer. The first composer to put his native Bohemia on the musical map of the world, he was invited to do the same for America. One result was the famous "New World" Symphony, which made him a household name across the globe. Writing music of irresistible color, lilt and peasant vitality, he was also a melodist-in-a-million. This portrait-in-sound follows a lovable and in many ways a very simple, man from hay cart to imperial palace, from tragic loss to heart-warming joy, to pigeon-raising and world celebrity.
©2004 Naxos AudioBooks (P)2004 Naxos AudioBooks
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I love the format, mixing the text with music. I would have been happy with twice or three times as much of each, and would have preferred more depth. I found the narration over the top; the emotion, the cultured accents, were overdone. At times it felt like a Monty Python sketch. But if you're looking for the basics of Dvorak's life and a taste of his music, it's a good choice.
This is the second book I've listened to from this series, and while the music is lovely, the author never really gets into any significant analysis of the composer's character or his compositional methods. I guess I've been spoiled by Robert Greenberg, who does both. This is a lightly researched look at Dvorak, a composer who deserves so much more. It's probably meant to serve as an introduction only, but if you are a classical music enthusiast, I'm afraid it won't tell you much that you don't already know.
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