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Puccini
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About the Author

Julian Budden, formerly the Chief Producer for Opera at BBC Radio, currently serves as the President of the Centro Studi Giacomo Puccini, Lucca, Italy. He is the author of the Master Musicians biography of Verdi as well as the three-volume The Operas of Verdi.

Reviews

The literature on Puccini continues to grow with these two books. Italian-born Budden (The Operas of Verdi) here synthesizes Puccini's musical endeavors with his life. Using a straightforward, chronological approach, giving exact dates when possible, he treats each opera in a separate chapter, devoting much space to character and plot and citing contemporary reviews and subsequent reception. He also mentions Puccini's other instrumental and vocal compositions. Informed lay readers will gain insight while theoreticians will appreciate Budden's deeper musical analysis. His elegant turns of phrase ("rhythmic scaffolding") and obvious expertise combine in an exceptional whole, though a few Britishisms may confuse American readers. A list of works, useful biographical information on personalities mentioned in the text, and a strong bibliography round out the volume. Michele Girardi's recently translated Puccini: His International Art is similar, with even more specific treatment of musical passages. Highly recommended for academic and music collections, as well as sophisticated clients at public libraries. Phillips-Matz (Verdi: A Biography) discusses Puccini as if she were telling the life story of a valued friend. She remarks on premieres, casts, and critical reception of the works but says little about the music itself. However, she does expand upon the personal issues touched on by Budden (e.g., the Doria Manfredi incident). She also sets a cultural context with historical descriptions of the Tuscan region and extensive information on Puccini's forebears. Her style is stimulating and, for the most part, more entertaining than merely informative. In a rather old-fashioned way, she talks about her own meetings with characters like Puccini's granddaughter, Biki, and singer Gilda Dalla Rizza. Her method of including "footnotes" within the text and abbreviations is helpful; however, one wishes that she had indicated in the introduction the groupings of relevant materials rather than repeating them each time they occurred. She also includes a works list, six major contemporary opera composers and their works, and an up-to-date bibliography. Conrad Wilson's Giacomo Puccini in Phaidon Press's "20th-Century Composers" series makes a good complement, although Phillips-Matz's approach is more genteel and positive. Recommended for all collections. (Indexes and illustrations not seen in either.) Barry Zaslow, Miami Univ. Libs., Oxford, OH Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

"He makes one hungry to hear the operas once again and reconsider one's own response--what can be higher praise for music criticism?"--Tim Page, Washington Post Book World "At the least, Budden's book will stand as the bellwether of studies of Puccini's music, the starting point for further scholarly work and for informed amateurs alike. At the most, he has given us the best survey we have of Italian opera around 1900...He has made a minor art form of operatic description in prose, expanding the old format of plot-summary-plus-favoritie-themes to include music analysis, critical response, and secure judgments as to the echoes of other composers heard at any moment. He joins all this is a prose that will engage even those who cannot follow all the musical particulars. There is more: Budden contrives in the introductory sections of his chapters to give us a canny glimpse of Puccini's life at the time of each opera. And--this is one of the most impressive features of his study--he provides in each chapter vignettes that add up to a historical sketch of the musical culture Puccini lived and worked in."--Gary Tomlinson, The New York Times Book Review "...a seamless and readable narrative. His prose style is appealingly informal while not sacrificing scholarly integrity, and he has an effective way of drawing the reader into each new chapter.... Budden is ever alert to the impact Puccini's environment had upon his art."--Music and Letters "Julian Budden's book fills a serious gap. Here is a single volume combining excellent biography with an often illuminating discussion of the work...Budden's approach to the individual operas is often fresh and engaging. His investigation of the dramatic and musical problems that Puccini encountered while writing Manon Lescaut is fascinating...Budden's is a book for the library shelf, a reliable reference work that the reader will want to consult when program notes fail or a fresh view of the operas."--Opera News "Budden is responsible for much of the new Puccini scholarship and his synthesis of this material is often elegant."--New York Review of Books "If you want in-depth insight into Puccini's operas, replete with many stanzas of music, Budden's bio and discussion should be on your shelf."--The San Diego Union Tribune "Essential reading, Budden's biography allies in-depth scholarship with narrative pace to offer us a masterly and intensely human portrait of the man and composer. Finely researched, surely the most thoughtful biography to date of Italy's last great opera composer."--Vivien A. Hewitt, Director, Festival Puccini of Torre del Lago "Bravo Budden!!!!!! His books on Verdi have been an invaluable aid to my study and role preparation over the years, and now the Puccini volume joins them in my library. Budden manages to synthesize the historical, academic, artistic, and human aspects of Puccini's operas in a way that is totally accessible, and most useful to any serious artist or music lover."--Elizabeth Blancke-Biggs, Soprano "An enormously impressive achievement. Certainly the best book on Puccini in English. As we would expect from the author of The Operas of Verdi, Budden's discussion of Puccini's alarmingly popular music is both sensitive and challenging in its insights."--Roger Parker, Professor of Music and Fellow of St John's College, Cambridge University "Informed lay readers will gain insight while theoreticians will appreciate Budden's deeper musical analysis. His elegant turns of phrase ("rhythmic scaffolding") and obvious expertise combine in an exceptional whole."--Library Journal "...a seamless and readable narrative. His prose style is appealingly informal while not sacrificing scholarly integrity, and he has an effective way of drawing the reader into each new chapter.... Budden is ever alert to the impact Puccini's environment had upon his art."--Music and Letters "He makes one hungry to hear the operas once again and reconsider one's own response--what can be higher praise for music criticism?"--Tim Page, Washington Post Book World "At the least, Budden's book will stand as the bellwether of studies of Puccini's music, the starting point for further scholarly work and for informed amateurs alike. At the most, he has given us the best survey we have of Italian opera around 1900.... He has made a minor art form of operatic description in prose, expanding the old format of plot-summary-plus-favoritie-themes to include music analysis, critical response, and secure judgments as to the echoes of other composers heard at any moment. He joins all this is a prose that will engage even those who cannot follow all the musical particulars. There is more: Budden contrives in the introductory sections of his chapters to give us a canny glimpse of Puccini's life at the time of each opera. And--this is one of the most impressive features of his study--he provides in each chapter vignettes that add up to a historical sketch of the musical culture Puccini lived and worked in."--Gary Tomlinson, The New York Times Book Review "Julian Budden's book fills a serious gap. Here is a single volume combining excellent biography with an often illuminating discussion of the work.... Budden's approach to the individual operas is often fresh and engaging. His investigation of the dramatic and musical problems that Puccini encountered while writing Manon Lescaut is fascinating.... Budden's is a book for the library shelf, a reliable reference work that the reader will want to consult when program notes fail or a fresh view of the operas."--Opera News "Budden is responsible for much of the new Puccini scholarship and his synthesis of this material is often elegant."--New York Review of Books "If you want in-depth insight into Puccini's operas, replete with many stanzas of music, Budden's bio and discussion should be on your shelf."--The San Diego Union Tribune "Essential reading, Budden's biography allies in-depth scholarship with narrative pace to offer us a masterly and intensely human portrait of the man and composer. Finely researched, surely the most thoughtful biography to date of Italy's last great opera composer."--Vivien A. Hewitt, Director, Festival Puccini of Torre del Lago "Bravo Budden!!!!!! His books on Verdi have been an invaluable aid to my study and role preparation over the years, and now the Puccini volume joins them in my library. Budden manages to synthesize the historical, academic, artistic, and human aspects of Puccini's operas in a way that is totally accessible, and most useful to any serious artist or music lover."--Elizabeth Blancke-Biggs, Soprano "An enormously impressive achievement. Certainly the best book on Puccini in English. As we would expect from the author of The Operas of Verdi, Budden's discussion of Puccini's alarmingly popular music is both sensitive and challenging in its insights."--Roger Parker, Professor of Music and Fellow of St John's College, Cambridge University "Informed lay readers will gain insight while theoreticians will appreciate Budden's deeper musical analysis. His elegant turns of phrase ("rhythmic scaffolding") and obvious expertise combine in an exceptional whole."--Library Journal

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