Daily Telegraph Christmas book of the Year 2008
Described after a recently televised performance of Chopin's 1st Piano Concerto with the St. Petersburg State Radio Symphony Orchestra as "an outstanding virtuoso- one of the finest players of his generation" (Kommersant Daily, Moscow), Scottish pianist and writer Kenneth Hamilton has appeared worldwide as a recitalist and concerto soloist. He has made many international television and radio broadcasts, and is a regular performer and lecturer on music for the B.B.C. in his native Britain. His doctoral research was on the Music of Liszt at Balliol College, Oxford, and he has for several years been a member of the Music Department of the University of Birmingham, UK. Numerous Festival appearances have included a particularly memorable combination of pianism and scholarship in his highly successful recreation of Liszt's 1847 concerts in Istanbul for the Istanbul International Festival.
After the Golden Age is a lively reminder that classical music once passed for mass entertainment... John Terauds, Toronto Star a deft, sympathetic account of the old-school virtuosos and their gaudy habits...Hamilton, an accomplished Scottish pianist, contrasts the showmanship of Liszt with the "sheer routine and funereal boredom" of many recitals he hears today Alex Ross, The New Yorker a fascinating book Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post One only has to read the preface of Kenneth Hamilton's After the Golden Age to know that the book will be beautifully written, informative, entertaining - and highly controversial. Mr Hamilton is a knowledgeable musician as well as a scholar...he states his facts and opinions brilliantly in an easy-going style. Seymour Bernstein, Chamber Music Magazine brilliantly researched, beautifully written, and filled to the brim with amusing anecdotes (capped by the author's wry humour) Stuart Isacoff, Symphony Magazine An impressive and thoroughly engrossing piece of scholarship. Jeremy Nicholas, Gramophone An important new book by Kenneth Hamilton...His style is dryly witty, his scholarship immaculate-and his conclusions challenging. Terry Teachout, Commentary Magazine After the Golden Age recounts the more arcane habits of historical pianism...Hamilton brings back what has been missing from concerts in these politically correct times - an unapologetic sense of fun. Dr Chang Tou Liang, The Straits Times, Singapore Hamilton's book explores this almost mythical 'Golden Age of Pianism and the links between then and now...We shouldn't resurrect every idiosyncrasy, says Hamilton, but with period performance having become mainstream, surely it's also time for us to open our imagination to the more recent past? Classic FM Magazine ...unputdownable...Deftly, wittily, humorously, the author, himself an international pianist, traces the development of piano playing from Liszt to Paderewski and beyond with illuminating perception and detail...He also has the rare knack of expressing complexity with simplicity Alexander Letvin, Piano Magazine this delightful book... concert-giving has changed enormously. The pianist and author Kenneth Hamilton is an ideal guide to the changes, his dry Scottish humour the perfect weapon with which to skewer egos and pomposity. Susan Tomes, The Independent Kenneth Hamilton's excellent new Oxford history of romantic pianism Norman Lebrecht, La Scena Musicale Online a wonderful book James Fenton, The Guardian After the Golden Age is a cri de coeur, lamenting the loss of a passionate, individualistic, free-form performance style - Dionysus in the concert hall - and arguing for its reconsideration. For all that, Mr. Hamilton's own prose style is gentle and deft. James F. Penrose, The Wall Street Journal This book is a tour de force, a milestone in the history of musical performance. Kenneth Hamilton's vivid, evocative prose admirably reflects the virtuoso character of his subject. He calls into question the very nature of music, while throwing down a series of challenges to today's performers. A truly magnificent achievement! Colin Lawson, Director, Royal College of Music, London ...a thoughtful, highly stimulating look at the golden age of pianism and its nineteenth-century exponents. Kenneth Hamilton wears his considerable scholarship lightly as he re-examines stylistic markers of the great pianists and argues cogently for their relevance to modern performers. R. Larry Todd, Arts & Sciences Professor, Duke University, and author of Mendelssohn: A Life in Music A compelling and richly detailed volume. Kenneth Hamilton puts the 'golden age' of romantic pianists into broad historical perspective, shrewdly confronting issues over authenticity, 'grand manner', and continuity with the present. William Weber, Professor of History, California State University, Long Beach Hamilton's delightful wit, narrative flair and wealth of anecdotes... Pamela Margles, Wholenote Magazine a delightful book, which you should read The New York Times