Memoirs and Reflections
By Evgeny Kissin
Evgeny Igorevitch Kissin is a Russian-British-Israeli classical pianist. He first came to international fame as a child prodigy. He has been a British citizen since 2002 and an Israeli citizen since 2013. He has a wide repertoire and is especially known for his interpretations of the works of the Romantic era, particularly those of Frédéric Chopin, Sergei Rachmaninoff and Franz Liszt.The first two parts describe Kissin's childhood in Russia and his family's decision to live abroad after the attempted putsch at the Moscow White House. The third part consists mostly of his views of other pianists and conductors, as well as memories of people he met during his early years and career.Kissin writes about his parents, his sister, his grandparents and his teachers with tender affection and touching detail that gives his memoirs the transparency of water. Here are the things and the people and events that formed him, nurtured and challenged him, and the individuals who made him feel gratitude, amazement and awe. And, of course, it is infused with his lifelong engagement with making music, an obsessive love that captured him when he was young.The book throws a good deal of light on the life and attitudes of the mainly Russian Jewish intelligentsia, the problems of visas to America, Britain and other countries, and his views on performance of music, his own compositions in music and verse, and his personal approach to concerts. It also offers Kissin's philosophy of life and his understanding of human nature derived from meetings with learned people, books and his own day-to-day experience. He does not indulge in false modesty, but takes a realistic view of who he is in the eyes of the world.
My Life with Wagner
By Christian Thielemann
'Idiosyncratic, humorous, enlightening and written by one of the finest conductors alive ... This is the book to buy if you are going to see Wagner or listen to him at home' LITERARY REVIEWOver a distinguished career conducting some of the world's finest orchestras, Christian Thielemann has earned a reputation as the leading modern interpreter of Richard Wagner. MY LIFE WITH WAGNER chronicles his ardent personal and professional engagement with the composer whose work has shaped his thinking and feeling from early childhood.Thielemann retraces his journey with Wagner - from Berlin to Bayreuth via Venice, Hamburg and Chicago. Next he takes each opera in turn, his appraisal illuminated by a deep affinity for the music, an intimate knowledge of the scores and the inside perspective of an outstanding practitioner. And yet for all the adulation Wagner's art inspires in him, Thielemann does not shy away from unpalatable truths about the man himself, explaining why today he is venerated and reviled in equal measure. The result is a richly rewarding read for admirers of a composer who continues to fascinate long after his death.
By Michael Coveney
WINNER OF BEST MEMOIR AT THE WOMAN & HOME READERS' CHOICE AWARDS 2016 AND A BBC RADIO 4 BOOK OF THE WEEKNo one does glamour, severity, girlish charm or tight-lipped witticism better than Dame Maggie Smith, one of Britain's best-loved actors. This new biography shines the stage-lights on the life and work of a truly remarkable performer, one whose career spans six decades.From her days as a star of West End comedy and revue, Dame Maggie's path would cross with those of the greatest actors, playwrights and directors of the era. Whether stealing scenes from Richard Burton (by his own admission), answering back to Laurence Olivier, or impressing Ingmar Bergman, her career can be seen as a Who's Who of British theatre in the twentieth century. This book also covers her success in Hollywood, inaugurated by her first Oscar for her signature film, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, as well as her subsequent departure to Canada for a prolific four-season run of leading theatre roles.Recently Dame Maggie has been as prominent on our screens as ever, with high-profile roles as Violet Crawley, the formidable Dowager Countess of Grantham, in the phenomenally successful television series Downton Abbey, and as Professor Minerva McGonagall in the Harry Potter film franchise: what she herself describes as 'Miss Jean Brodie in a wizard's hat'. Yet paradoxically she remains an enigmatic figure, rarely appearing in public and carefully guarding her considerable talent. Michael Coveney's absorbing biography, drawing on personal archives, interviews and encounters with the actress, as well as conversations with immediate family and dear friends, is therefore as close as it gets to seeing the real Maggie Smith.
By Nana Mouskouri
Nana Mouskouri, the Greek singer and one of the world's most popular entertainers, tells her life story for the first time.For more than 40 years Nana Mouskouri has been a global singing sensation, from her earliest childhood memories of mid-Thirties Greece to her unstoppable rise to the summit of her profession. She tells of life as a child, experiencing the horrors of war and privation, victimised by bitter parental discord, stigmatised by her father's fatal addiction to gambling.She was a shy inhibited teenager with a passion for singing, a girl compelled to choose between her love of classical music and her fascination with popular song. As a highly successful adult, she has been racked by uncertainty and the torments of love, a woman struggling to balance music - her raison d'etre - with her role as wife and mother.Here she describes the life of the star we all know, from her beginnings in the nightclubs of Athens to her triumphs on the world's most glittering stages. Nana launches us into her international tours, taking us to Canada, the United States, Japan and Australasia as well as every country in Europe. She describes how she fought to win over audiences everywhere. In Britain, for example, she enjoyed dazzling success after her first English album Over and Over was released. In quick succession, twenty-three of her titles appeared in the charts. In Australia, she achieved fourteen gold discs in 1974 alone.Hers is a rich and astonishing life, studded with exceptional encounters and friendships: the incomparable trumpeter Quincy Jones, a musician Nana had secretely worshipped since childhood, introduced her to the United States and became her producer; Yvonne Littlewood, the BBC producer, made Nana a leading star of British television in the 1960s and remains one of her closest friends. Queen Elizabeth II, Bob Dylan, Frank Sinatra, and the Empress Farah Diba of Iran are among the galaxy of extraordinary figures who played a vital part in Nana's career. Intimate, rich in humanity and music, a spotlit global tour, Nana's book is an event.
My Life Behaving Badly
By Leslie Ash
The full and honest story from one of the UK's favourite celebrities, including her astonishing fightback from the superbug that nearly killed herLeslie Ash has been one of Britain's most popular actresses for many years now, having made her big break in the film 'Quadrophenia'. In the 1980s she starred in 'Cat's Eyes', but it is as Deb in 'Men Behaving Badly' that she is best known. Yet this hugely successful career is only a part of the story.Her marriage to Lee Chapman has been turbulent, as they lived (and partied) the celebrity lifestyle to the full. Viewed as a 'beaten' spouse, a blonde bimbo and the 'victim' of plastic surgery, she has been pigeon-holed by many but understood by few. Now, in her long-awaited memoirs, she tells the whole story from the day she first appeared on TV at four to advertise Fairy Liquid, through to her battle to recover from the superbug that nearly killed her and how it transformed her life and made her understand what is really important. Leslie now campaigns for better hygiene in hospitals. This is an astonishing, moving and yet very funny memoir.
By Brian Matthews
Manning Clark was one of the most influential Australian intellectuals of the last half century. His political pronouncements were often highly provocative and his sweeping judgements, dire denunciations and oracular prophecies infuriated conservatives and made him a controversial figure.His most enduring legacy, however, was his magisterial six-volume History of Australia. In it he reshaped the now familiar story of our nation's modern evolution; from the First Fleet's arrival, the convicts, the rum rebellion, gold, the sheep's back, Federation, and the glorious defeat at Gallipoli, up to the nation emerging from the Great Depression and on the threshold of a new world war. Within the dramatic narrative, which he envisaged as an epic, are highly original and insightful portraits of its great men with their tragic flaws: Phillip, Macquarie, Burke and Wills, Bligh, Wentworth, and above all Henry Lawson. But behind this ambitious work - with its more than a million words and twenty-five, long slogging years of research and scholarship - was a man as flawed as the historical figures he was presenting, figures in whose personalities and life events he often saw himself dauntingly mirrored. He was wracked with self-doubt, and dogged by fears of failure and personal weakness, he craved forgiveness for the betrayals that stalked and threatened his marriage to Dymphna, and wrestled with an elusive Christ in whom he longed to have a secure faith. Behind the signature broad hat and the stern unsmiling visage was a tortured man.That is the complex, enigmatic and thoroughly enthralling Clark who emerges in this remarkable biography by Brian Matthews, whose previous acclaimed memoir of Louise Lawson was judged to be both ground breaking and revolutionary. Manning Clark: a life draws a compelling portrait of the great historian, who attracted both critics and acolytes alike in equal number. Both sides can expect to be astounded and captivated.
By Terry Wogan
The definitive autobiography from the nation's best-loved broadcaster.Written in a style familiar to his millions of listeners, rich with warmth and irony, MUSTN'T GRUMBLE is Terry's definitive autobiography. Not only does he introduce the reader to post-Emergency Ireland, his chain-smoking maiden aunts, his quick-witted mother and hard-working father and the (not so) Christian Fathers who tried to knock his hands off, he explains how he's managed to avoid a hard day's work from childhood to knighthood, and entertained a few million people along the way. Terry talks in full about his past 35 years with the BBC: his hugely popular Radio 2 show, his TV shows WOGAN (NOW & THEN) and BLANKETY BLANK, the Eurovision Song Contest, working on the BBC's CHILDREN IN NEED programmes, and where he learnt to breakdance so brilliantly. MUSTN'T GRUMBLE is fresh, honest and a real craic.