MUSICTEACHERS.CO.UK VOLUME 2 ISSUE 10, APRIL 2001  
Online Journal

In association with Amadues Press, we are pleased to offer as our April competition three excellent musician-biographies, worth up to £65: Alma Rosé: From Vienne to Auschwitz (reviewed August 2000), Heifetz as I knew him and Morton Gould: American Salute (both reviewed this month in MusicTeachers.co.uk's Online Journal).

To win, visit the Amadeus Press website and answer the following questions:

  1. What is the ISBN number of Richard Newman's Alma Rosé: From Vienna to Auschwitz?
  2. How did Pam Linn of The Malibu Times, describe Ayke Agus' Heifetz as I knew him?
  3. Who wrote the forward to Peter W. Goodman's Morton Gould: American Salute?

Answers, as usual, should be addressed to [email protected], and should include your full name, address and telephone numbers.

Click here to view the competition rules.


Alma Rosé: From Vienna to Auschwitz by Richard Newman – Alma's story first came to public attention through the 1980 film Playing for Time, in which Jane Alexander portrayed her. The true story of this heroic woman, whose determination and courage saved dozens of lives, is now told for the first time. Rosé was born to musical royalty in Vienna when the imperial city was the centre of the musical world. Her father was Arnold Rosé, violinist and concertmaster of the Vienna Opera and Philharmonic Orchestras, and her uncle was Gustav Mahler. Alma-ardent, impetuous, steeped in musical tradition-embraced music as some embrace religion. In the 1930s she founded and led a women's touring orchestra that personified the froth as well as the musical acumen of Old Vienna. Like many other prosperous and assimilated Viennese Jews, the Rosé family was caught off guard by the rise of Nazism. Alma courageously assisted her family to flee, but was herself caught and deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. At Auschwitz, Alma again led a women's orchestra-the only women's musical ensemble in the Nazi camps. With violin and baton, steely will and dauntless spirit, she moulded a terrified collection of young musicians into an orchestra that became their sole hope of survival. They played music for the pleasure of their Nazi captors; in exchange they remained alive. Alma saved the lives of some four dozen members of the orchestra; not one was sent to the gas chamber, though Alma herself died in the camp of sudden illness. In telling Alma's full story, Richard Newman and Karen Kirtley honour her and the valiant prisoner-musicians for whom music meant life.

Heifetz as I knew him by Ayke Agus – Agus came to Jascha Heifetz as a violin student in his master class at the University of Southern California; after he made her the class pianist she soon became his private accompanist and ultimately his assistant and confidante. Agus is a sensitive and astute observer, and her book takes up where previous biographers, whose works are long out of print, left off. It is a loving yet unblinking testimony to a unique relationship between an aging master and his disciple. Following his retirement from the stage in 1972, Heifetz devoted himself to passing his legacy on to his students. Always a difficult person, Heifetz imparted not only his art but his every belief and idiosyncrasy, all the while enchanting those in his path with sufficient musical magic to hold them under his spell. The greatest violinist of the 20th century was a great genius who was also insecure and unreasonable; in many respects the former prodigy had never had to grow up. Heifetz, nearly fifty years the author's senior, had much to tell, and Agus absorbed it all as they shared their stories, not only about their lives but also about music making. Heifetz taught her how he held audiences spellbound, how the pianist collaborates with the violinist, and finally how he crafted his transcriptions, the last of which they worked on together. Her memoir is an extraordinary story of a truly unique friendship.

Morton Gould (1913-1996) was a dominant force in American music throughout most of the 20th century. A child prodigy whose first composition was "Just Six" (his age at the time), he was still composing in the 1990s, including several pieces for President Clinton to play on his saxophone. This versatile composer, conductor, arranger, and pianist worked in vaudeville and on radio, from Tin Pan Alley to Broadway, all the while churning out jingles, symphonies, and everything in between. Gould was phenomenally talented; he worked tirelessly to bring great music to wide audiences, which he did with more than 100 best-selling records. The very excess of his gifts, however, may have been the reason that he felt his life to be a failure. He remained subject to profound depressions, which he managed to conceal from the many colleagues who found him always generous and thoughtful. His marriages, like his relationship with his domineering father, were ties of love and hate that caused years of emotional pain. Peter Goodman began working with Gould on Morton Gould: American Salute more than a year before Gould's death. He spent many hours interviewing Gould as well as his family, friends, and colleagues. Upon Gould's death, his family allowed Goodman access to his files, diaries, records, and tapes. The result is a full, detailed, and well-rounded story.


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