Book Notes

Looking for Some Fall Reading?

Volume CVII, No. 10October, 2007

“Reaching Out”
by David Wallace (McGraw Hill Professional, 2007)

Connect with and captivate concert audiences as never before with “Reaching Out,” by Local 802 member David Wallace, the groundbreaking new guide to audience engagement and interactive performance for musicians. Wallace shares the techniques he has taught at Juilliard and used with orchestras and conservatories around the world for reaching out to any audience regardless of demographics and musical expertise and enriching their concert experience through interaction. Featuring real-life examples, concert transcripts, and an interactive concert checklist, this text gives performing musicians the tools they need to put these techniques to practice and design programs that give their audiences a deeper experience and appreciation of music.

“Shout, Sister, Shout!: The Untold Story of Rock-and-Roll Trailblazer Sister Rosetta Tharpe”
by Gayle F. Wald (Beacon Press, 2007)

Long before “women in rock” became a media catchphrase, Rosetta Tharpe proved in spectacular fashion that women could rock. Born in Cotton Plant, Arkansas, in 1915, she was gospel’s first superstar and the preeminent crossover figure of its “golden age” (1945-1965). Everyone who saw her perform said she could “make that guitar talk.”

“Shout, Sister, Shout!” is the first biography of this trailblazing performer who influenced scores of popular musicians, from Elvis Presley and Little Richard to Eric Clapton and Bonnie Raitt. An African American guitar virtuoso, Tharpe defied categorization. Blues singer, gospel singer, folk artist, and rock-and-roller, she “went electric” in the late 1930’s, amazing northern and southern, U.S. and international, and white and black audiences with her charisma and skill. Ambitious and relentlessly public, Tharpe even staged her own wedding as a gospel concert – in a stadium holding 20,000 people!

Wald’s eye-opening biography, which draws on the memories of over 150 people who knew or worked with Tharpe, introduces us to this intriguing and forgotten musical heavyweight, forever altering our understanding of both women in rock and U.S. popular music.

“Maestro, Where’s the Beat?”
by Loren Glickman (Terra Nova Press, 2002)

Loren Glickman has created a lovely memoir of his career as a bassoonist, a conductor and a contractor. He writes his story with good humor and attention to interesting detail, and at the end of each chapter he tells some of his favorite musical anecdotes. There are also a few good photographs and a number of scrapbook items including cartoons, concert programs and letters.

Glickman led a varied and exciting life in the New York and international music world. During his fifty-year career he was associated with the New York City Opera, the Casals Festival, the Mostly Mozart Festival, the Madeira Bach Festival, every free-lance orchestra in the Greater New York area, and was on constant call as a soloist, recording musician and substitute in Broadway theatres. He served for twenty years as a member of the Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society, taught at conservatories here and abroad, and ran a highly respected bassoon camp in North Carolina for over twenty years.

–Bill Crow

“Johnny Duke: The Life and Times of a Well-Known Orchestra Leader”
by Johnny Duke (Sunray Printing, 866-757-2630)

Everyone has a story, and Johnny Duke, at the age of 95, decided it was time to write his down. A senior member of Local 802, Duke’s career in the music business started in the late 1920’s in New England, and he spent many years leading dance bands of various sizes throughout the country. He now lives in retirement in Lubbock, Texas. His recollections provide an interesting and informative glimpse into the American band business during the middle of the twentieth century. His stories are told in a pleasant, good-humored tone, and he has included a number of photos and souvenirs from his scrapbook which add a nice flavor of the times. Currently, this book must be ordered directly from the publisher. Call Sunray Printing rep Tom Polzine at (866) 757-2630. It is also in the process of being added to and may be available there by the time Allegro goes to press.

–Bill Crow

“Young People’s Concerts”
by Leonard Bernstein (Amadeus Press, 2005)

In 1958, CBS began airing Leonard Bernstein’s “Young People’s Concerts,” a series of 53 Emmy and Peabody winning performances that ran on TV until 1972, and were dubbed into a dozen languages and syndicated in forty countries. In this book, originally published in 1962, some of Bernstein’s best lectures from these programs have been collected. Bernstein’s enthusiasm for the music and his clear way of explaining it shine through every chapter.

This new paperback edition has been revised and expanded by Bernstein’s long time assistant, Jack Gottlieb, with illustrations and musical examples. Gottlieb is now an archivist for the Bernstein estate.

–Bill Crow

“High Notes and Low: Recollections of a Musical Career (With Strings Attached)”
by Esther Schure Gilbert (iUniverse, 2006)

When Local 802 honor member Esther Schure’s mother decided that her daughter would become a violinist, there was no stopping this determined woman.

Her immigrant family from Canada moved first to Rochester, New York (home of Eastman) and then to New York City – all in the interest of furthering Esther’s musical education and subsequent career.

From the beginning, as a four-year old, Esther developed her natural talent, and with the help of patrons and outstanding teachers, she became a professional violinist.

Esther’s career spans most of the 20th century, from when she joined Local 802 in 1938 to her retirement in 1994.

She played under the batons of some of the most renowned conductors of the era, including Leonard Bernstein and Leopold Stokowski.

Her memoirs are a rare view from the inside of many professional orchestras.

Esther has a talent for reproducing the personae of players, conductors and the whole backstage.

She recounts studying at the Institute of Musical Art (later a part of Juilliard), and with Leopold Auer, teacher of Jascha Heifetz and Mischa Elman.

Esther was concertmaster on tour with the American Ballet Theatre, the British Royal Ballet and the St. Louis Symphony. She accomplished a 37-year stint as first violinist and assistant concertmaster with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.

The characters she describes on her journey are funny, temperamental, and talented – but of all the musicians, Esther herself is the personification of a true violinist.

“The Violin Maker”
by John Marchese (HarperCollins, 2007)

This intensely human story moves from an ageless workshop in Brooklyn to the rehearsal rooms of Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, and across the globe to Cremona, the birthplace of Stradivari.

On a quest to learn about violin making, author and musician John Marchese befriends an old-world craftsman in Brooklyn: Sam Zygmuntowicz, a man in his mid-40’s, who practices a craft that goes back centuries.

Sam has built instruments for some of the world’s most renowned musicians, including Isaac Stern. Professionals from all over make the pilgrimage to his studio to add their names to his waiting list.

Then Sam is commissioned to build a violin for Eugene Drucker of the Emerson String Quartet. (Drucker’s current instrument is a Stradivarius.)

Zygmuntowicz starts by picking a block of maple from his vast collection of aged, European wood. Small pieces can cost upwards of hundreds of dollars, thousands for the best.

Then the carving begins, where both the strokes and the carving tools themselves become progressively smaller and more painstaking.

In the late stages, the difference between right and wrong is measured in millimeters.

When all the sanding, rubbing, and final cuts are done, then comes the varnishing stage – considered by some to be the crux of Stradivari’s secrets, which many think can spell the difference between a mediocre instrument and a great one.

And finally, the moment both men have anticipated with apprehension: the handing over of the instrument from the artisan to the artist.

“Willis Conover: Broadcasting Jazz To The World”
by Terence Ripmaster (iUniverse, 2007)

Willis Conover may have been better known behind the Iron Curtain than he was in the United States. His rich speaking voice was well known to jazz fans within the reach of his programs on the Voice of America radio network, which began in 1955. He also organized jazz festivals and tours throughout Europe and the Soviet Union. One of his early jazz relationships was with Joe Timer’s band in Washington D.C, billed as “The Orchestra” and fronted by Conover on a regular Sunday gig at the Club Kavakos. New York jazz stars like Stan Getz and Charlie Parker were often presented as guest soloists with The Orchestra. Conover continued to be a spokesman for jazz, which he called “the music of freedom,” until his death in May 1996. In 1993 the House of Representatives honored him with a resolution, praising him as one of the country’s greatest foreign policy tools. Terence Ripmaster, a former professor at William Paterson University who has also written a biography of Bucky Pizzarelli, has given us a fascinating account of Conover’s life and career.

–Bill Crow

“Piano Girl: a Memoir”
by Robin Meloy Goldsby (Backbeat Books, 2005)

Robin Meloy, a member of Local 802 for 30 years, had a long career as a cocktail lounge and hotel pianist before marrying jazz bassist John Goldsby. The family moved to Germany when John took the bass chair with the Westdeutscher Rundfunk big band in Cologne. Before long Robin found a catering establishment in an old German castle nearby, where she continues playing.

Readers of Allegro may remember the article she wrote some time ago, when she was replaced at the Marriot Marquis, after six years of service there, by a mechanical Pianocorder which played the piano badly, and a dummy that sat at the keyboard pretending to play. Her article, and a follow-up piece by a writer for Billboard, helped to drive that monstrosity out of the theatre district with ridicule.

Robin has continued writing articles for various publications, and here has written an engaging book about her life of adventures at the keyboard, with amusing descriptions of her encounters with audiences, employers, mobsters, room directors, lounge lizards, stalkers, crazies and good friends. She has an appealing way with a story, and finds the human interest and the humor in every situation. According to her Web site (, while she continues her career at the piano, she is now at work on a novel.

–Bill Crow