Edmund Morris

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Sunday, May 06, 2007

Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Edmund Morris (The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt) once considered pursuing a career as a concert pianist and, as he tells host Gilbert Kaplan, even played a Beethoven sonata at Carnegie Hall (as part of a charity concert of amateur musicians). But Morris’ passion for music is a love-hate affair.

Beethoven is by far the best composer (Morris wrote an eminently readable biography). And he can’t live without Schumann and Sibelius. But he finds Mahler "masturbatory" and "vulgar"; Bach more interested in structure than melody; Vivaldi "tumpty-tumpty and rather trite." He "cannot listen to Rossini" and "Gounod makes me sick." It’s a lively show filled with riveting stories of Morris’ musical encounters!


Ludwig van Beethoven Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67. First movement [excerpt]. Wiener Philharmoniker. Carlos Kleiber. Deutsche Grammophon 447 400-2.

Robert Schumann/Franz Liszt Frühlingsnacht. Josef Lhévinne, piano. Philips Classics 456 890-2.

Ludwig van Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 23 in F minor, Op. 57. “Appassionata.” First movement [excerpt]. Edwin Fischer. EMI Classics 5 74800 2.

Joseph Haydn The Creation. “The Sun Arising.” Berliner Philharmoniker. Herbert von Karajan. Deutsche Grammophon 289449 761-2.

“The Ash Grove.” Members of the National Philharmonic Orchestra. Douglas Gamley. Kiri Te Kanawa, soprano. EMI 7 47080 2.

Ludwig van Beethoven Cantata on the Death of Emperor Josef II. “Da stiegen die Menschen an’s Licht.” Corydon Singers and Orchestra. Matthew Best. Janice Watson, soprano; Jean Rigby, mezzo soprano; John Mark Ainsley, tenor; José van Dam, bass. Hyperion A66880.

Jean Sibelius Symphony No. 4 in A minor, Op. 63. Fourth movement [excerpt]. City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Sir Simon Rattle. EMI 7 47711 2.


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