Sunday, December 22, 2013

Dear Abbé


It's that time of year again... Sugar Plum Fairies... Messiah... holiday concerts (with and without celebrity readings of The Night Before Christmas—by the way, there's an app for that) and, yes, holiday lists:
Meanwhile Abbé means to while away those long winter nights here at the Madonna del Rosario by hunkering down with:

  • Donald Greig [sic]: Time Will Tell (Thames River Press, 2012), in which Ockeghem is prominently featured. Scholarly notes: the university in Tallahassee, through which the book's main character regularly accesses the Internet for research, should be The Florida State University. Our colleagues at the University of Florida are down the road in Gainesville. And Columbus, OH, is in the same time zone as JFK airport.
  • Donna Leon, The Jewels of Paradise (Grove Press, 2013), which features, not Commissario Brunetti, but rather Caterina Pellegrini, Venetian musicologist of 18th-century opera returning home from Manchester. Castrati, etc.
  • Longtime resident of Venice, Leon is herself an Italian opera enthusiast and patron, and, I have heard, a fan of Alan Curtis. (The first Brunetti mystery was Death at La Fenice, 1992). [Euro-residents: don't miss the tv series; tourists: take the Brunetti walks, etc.]
  • Peter Lovesey, The Tooth Tattoo (Soho Crime, 2013). In Peter Diamond Investigation 13, the suspects are members of a string quartet. Review in Washington Post.
  • Margo Miller, Murdering Tosca: An Opera “Shocker” (PublishAmerica, 2008). Why have the singers died in the order and manner of their stage characters?
  • Arthur Wenk, Quarter-Note Tales #4: An Axel Crotchet Trilogy (iUniverse, 2013). Crochet, bearded musicologist-at-large, stumbles into murderous intrigue amid church politics and academic amphigory, where tempers run so high because the stakes are so low. “Cat's Paw,“The Carcassonne Codex,” and “If Thine Eye Offend Thee.
Special thanks to American musicologists Vivian Ramalingam, Douglass Seaton, Alexaner Silbiger, Pamela Starr—and AMS executive director Bob Judd, who, to no one's surprise, keeps a list of musicology fiction).
Fun fact: E. L. Doctorow's Ragtime (Random House, 1975) is on President Obama's holiday list.

  • Sound City (Variance Films, 2013). Critically acclaimed documentary on Sound City Studios in Van Nuys.
  • Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky (Sony, 2009). A sometimes believable and always intriguing evocation of the way it was from The Rite of Spring in 1913 through Chanel No. 5 in 1919. Steamy.
  • Mary Poppins: 50th-Anniversary Edition (Disney, 2013).That about says it all. Not steamy.
  • The Wizard of Oz: 75th-Anniversary Collector's Edition (Warner, 2013). Maybe. And maybe the lunchbox.
  • Family Dog at the Great Highway: San Francisco, CA 4/18/70. Exclusively at Lost Grateful Dead show resurfaces; check out the coverage at Rolling Stone.
  • Vladimir Horowitz: Live at Carnegie Hall boxed set (Sony, 2013). 42 discs, $100-ish. But do I still have a CD player?

... Now, it's your turn. Share your own holiday ideas for music lovers in the comments box below.

Season's Greetings!



  1. I vote for "The Beatles: Bootleg Recordings 1963" now available on iTunes