Page 43 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 6 (1947-1948)

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33
BLOCH ---- THE YEAR ’S BOOKSHELF
Byrnes; appendix by Bernard M. Baruch (Boston, L. C. Page,
1946) represents a very meager contribution to biography. I t is
a small and rather disappointing book about a great American
financier turned statesman. I t is a feeble attemp t at telling the
life, though briefly, of Mr. Baruch up to July 1946, recording
enough of his public service, without the mention of social and
family activities, to ensconce him in his m aturity on the park
bench in Washington, from which emerged a series of public serv-
ices th a t are reminiscent of Robert Morris during the American
Revolution.
The eminence of Jews in the field of music and musicology is
well known. A goodly number of leading Jewish musicians have,
in recent years, been the subject of works written by themselves
or by others in which much information is furnished about their
lives and achievements. The world-famous conductor of the
Boston Symphony is the subject of two important works which
have appeared almost simultaneously.
Serge Koussevitzky
, the
Boston Symphony Orchestra and the new American music by
*Hugo Leichtentritt (Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1946)
was followed by the appearance of
Koussevitzky
by Moses Smith
(New York, Allan, Towne and Heath, 1947). Both volumes offer
the life story of the world-famous conductor as well as an illumi-
nating study of the role he plays in the advancement of the music
of our day. Leichtentritt, a musicologist of note, offers a eulogistic
appraisal of Koussevitzky’s achievement in a special field, while
Mr. Smith attempts a candid and complete biography of the
eminent conductor. Another equally internationally famous con-
ductor is Bruno Walter who is now living in the United States.
In his
Theme and variations
(New York, Knopf, 1946) he looks back
on half a century of his activity as an orchestral conductor, re-
cording its meaning and weighing its revelations. His personal
experiences, brilliantly though they are told, are constantly
generalized into theory and practice of his art and conduct of life, .
so much so tha t his pages invite study and reflection. Vivid and
accomplished, the pages of his book are strewn with memorable
portraits of distinguished people all over Europe and America,
with anecdotes, epigrams and arresting reflections.
With strings
attached
by Joseph Szigeti (New York, Knopf, 1947) is the in-
formal biography of one of the great concert violinists of our time,
containing personal reminiscences of an eventful life, reflection
on his art and sketches of the famous and colorful personalities
he has known. Quite entertaining is
From the top of the stairs
by
Gretchen Damrosch Finletter (Boston, Little, Brown, 1946). I t
represents a buoyant and amusing chronicle of the busy years in
the home of Walter Damrosch. I t was an open home where musi-