Marc Blitzstein: His Life, His Work, His World

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Oxford University Press, Oct 1, 2012 - Biography & Autobiography - 648 pages
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.

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The Boy from Philadelphia
Journeyman Years
Early Works 19241929
Life with Eva I 19291931
From is 5 1929 to the Piano Concerto 1931
Life with Eva II 19321936
Critical Writings 19311940
From Goloopchik 1945 to The Guests 1949
Regina I 19461949
Regina II
The Threepenny Opera 19501954 and Other Adaptations
Reuben Reuben 19491955 and This Is the Garden 19561957
More Music for Shakespeare 19501958
Juno 19571959
Final Years I 19591961

From the Serenade 1932 to The Chesapeake Bay Retriever 1936
The Cradle Will Rock I 19361937
From The Spanish Earth 1937 to Dantons Death 1939
No for an Answer 19371940
From Valley Town 1940 to Labor for Victory 1942
To London and Back 19421945
From Freedom Morning 1943 to the Airborne Symphony 1946
The Unfinished Operas

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About the author (2012)

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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