Marc Blitzstein: His Life, His Work, His World

ISBN : 9780190280239

Howard Pollack
650 Pages
156 x 234 mm
Pub date
Dec 2015
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A composer and lyricist of enormous innovation and influence, Marc Blitzstein remains one of the most versatile and fascinating figures in the history of American music, his creative output running the gamut from films scores and Broadway operas to art songs and chamber pieces. A prominent leftist and social maverick, Blitzstein constantly pushed the boundaries of convention in mid-century America in both his work and his life. Award-winning music historian Howard Pollack's new biography covers Blitzstein's life in full, from his childhood in Philadelphia to his violent death in Martinique at age 58. The author describes how this student of contemporary luminaries Nadia Boulanger and Arnold Schoenberg became swept up in the stormy political atmosphere of the 1920s and 1930s and throughout his career walked the fine line between his formal training and his populist principles. Indeed, Blitzstein developed a unique sound that drew on everything contemporary, from the high modernism of Stravinsky and Hindemith to jazz and Broadway show tunes. Pollack captures the astonishing breadth of Blitzstein's work-from provocative operas like The Cradle Will Rock, No for an Answer, and Regina, to the wartime Airborne Symphony composed during his years in service, to lesser known ballets, film scores, and stage works. A courageous artist, Blitzstein translated Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill's The Threepenny Opera during the heyday of McCarthyism and the red scare, and turned it into an off-Broadway sensation, its "Mack the Knife" becoming one of the era's biggest hits. Beautifully written, drawing on new interviews with friends and family of the composer, and making extensive use of new archival and secondary sources, Marc Blitzstein presents the most complete biography of this important American artist.


Chapter 1: The Boy from Philadelphia
Chapter 2: Journeyman Years
Chapter 3: Early Works (1924-1929)
Chapter 4: Life with Eva, I (1929-1931)
Chapter 5: From is 5 (1929) to the Piano Concerto (1931)
Chapter 6: Life with Eva, II (1932-1936)
Chapter 7: Critical Writings (1931-1940)
Chapter 8: From the Serenade (1932) to The Chesapeake Bay Retriever (1936)
Chapter 9: The Cradle Will Rock, I (1936-1937)
Chapter 10: The Cradle Will Rock, II
Chapter 11: From The Spanish Earth (1937) to Danton's Death (1939)
Chapter 12: No for an Answer (1937-1940)
Chapter 13: From Valley Town (1940) to Labor for Victory (1942)
Chapter 14: To London and Back (1942-1945)
Chapter 15: From Freedom Morning (1943) to the Airborne Symphony (1946)
Chapter 16: From Goloopchik (1945) to The Guests (1949)
Chapter 17: Regina, I (1946-1949)
Chapter 18: Regina, II
Chapter 19: The Threepenny Opera (1950-1954) and Other Adaptations
Chapter 20: Reuben Reuben (1949-1955) and This is the Garden (1956-1957)
Chapter 21: More Music for Shakespeare (1950-1958)
Chapter 22: Juno (1957-59)
Chapter 23: Final Years, I (1959-1961)
Chapter 24: Final Years, II (1961-1964)
Chapter 25: The Unfinished Operas

About the author: 

Howard Pollack is John and Rebecca Moores Professor of Music at the University of Houston and author of, among other books, John Alden Carpenter: A Chicago Composer; Aaron Copland: The Life and Work of an Uncommon Man; and George Gershwin: His Life and Work.

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