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By: Herbert Francis Peyser (1886-1953)

Book cover Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Mozart’s earthly career was so poignantly short yet so filled with incalculable achievement that the author of this booklet finds himself confronted with an impossible task. He has, consequently, preferred to outline as best he could in the space at his disposal a few successive details of a life that was amazingly crowded with incident, early triumphs, and subsequent crushing tragedies, rather than to consider (let alone evaluate) the staggering creative abundances the master bequeathed mankind.

Book cover Schubert And His Works

This is a short introduction to Franz Schubert’s life and works. “…to give the casual radio listener a slight idea of Schubert’s inundating fecundity and inspiration. Like Bach, like Haydn, like Mozart, Schubert’s capacity for creative labor staggers the imagination… Volumes would not exhaust the wonder of his myriad creations. If this tiny book serves to heighten even a little the reader’s interest in such songs, symphonies, piano or chamber works of Schubert as come to his attention over the air it will have achieved the most that can be asked of it.” This book was published by The Philharmonic Symphony Society of New York.

Book cover Johann Sebastian Bach

Compared with the unimaginable richness of his inner life as the overpowering volume and splendor of his works reveal it, Bach’s day-to-day existence seems almost pedestrian.... The present volume, which advances no claim whatever to any new or original slant, aims to do no more than furnish for those who read and run a meager background of a few isolated highspots in Bach’s outward life and a momentary sideglance at a tiny handful of his supreme creations. Its object will have been more than accomplished if in any manner it stimulates a radio listener to deepen his acquaintance with Bach’s immeasurable art. - Summary by Author's Foreword

Book cover Joseph Haydn; Servant And Master

Haydn, barring a few hardships in his youth, lived an extraordinarily fortunate life and had abundant reason for the optimism which marked every step of his progress.... Haydn was a master by the grace of Heaven and a servant only by the artificial conventions of a temporary social order... About the vast number of symphonies, the magnificent string quartets, the clavier works, the songs there can here be no question. - Summary by Author's Foreword

Book cover George Frideric Handel

Handel’s long career resembles a gigantic tapestry, so bewilderingly crowded with detail, so filled with turmoil and vicissitude, with vast achievements, extremes of good and ill fortune, and unending comings and goings that any attempt to force even a small part of it into the frame of a tiny, unpretentious booklet of the present sort is as hopeless as it is presumptuous.... Handel was time and again a composer of exquisitely delicate colorations, and sensuous style, not to say a largely unsuspected master of many subtle intricacies of rhythm...

Book cover Hector Berlioz; A Romantic Tragedy

How much more futile is it to attempt on the minuscule scale of the following tiny, if rambling, pamphlet to touch upon even a thousandth of those achievements and unremitting conflicts which entered into the texture of this master’s agitated and inharmonious life! Actually, it aims to do no more than contribute a mite toward a larger interest in the writings and the great mass of insufficiently discovered compositions of a Romanticist whose labors are still surprisingly unrecognized art works of the future.

Book cover Mendelssohn And Certain Masterworks

In the compass of the present pamphlet it is impossible to give more than a cursory survey of Mendelssohn’s happy but extraordinarily crowded life. He was only slightly less prolific a composer than such masters as Bach, Mozart or Schubert, even if he did not reach the altitude of their supreme heights. But irrespective of the quality of much of his output, the sheer mass of it is astounding, the more so when we consider the extent of his travels and the unceasing continuity of his professional and social activities, which immensely exceeded anything of the kind in the career of Schubert or Bach. - Summary by Author's Foreword

Book cover Richard Strauss

There was not much truly spectacular about the course of [Strauss's] life, which was most happily free from the material troubles which bedeviled the existence of so many great masters... If “Salome” and “Elektra”, “Ein Heldenleben” and “Till Eulenspiegel” were in their day scandalously “sensational” did not the whirligig of time reveal them as incontestable products of genius, irrespective of inequalities and flaws? However Richard Strauss compares in the last analysis with this or that master he contributed to the language of music idioms, procedures and technical accomplishments typical of the confused years and conflicting ideals out of which they were born...

Book cover Robert Schumann, Tone Poet Prophet And Critic

[This is] the sketchiest outline of Robert Schumann’s short life but amazingly rich achievement. Together with Haydn and Schubert he was, perhaps, the most completely lovable of the great masters. It is hard, moreover, to think of a composer more strategically placed in his epoch or more perfectly timed in his coming. Tone poet, fantast, critic, visionary, prophet—he was all of these! And he passed through every phase, it seemed, of romantic experience. The great and even the semi-great of a fabulous period of music were his intimates—personages like Mendelssohn, Chopin, Liszt, Moscheles, Ferdinand David, Hiller, Joachim, Brahms...

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