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Book Review:

 

 

A Composer's Notes:

Remembering Miklós Rózsa

A Personal Recollection by Jeffrey Dane (Paperback))

New York, Lincoln, Shanghai: iUniverse, Inc., 2006. 332 pages.
Foreword by Leonard Pennario.

 


This book contains recollections by a longtime admirer and friend of the composer.

The book was written to commemorate the centenary of the birth of Miklos Rozsa on 18 April 1907.

Hungarian-born Miklos Rozsa was one of the greatest composers of the 20th century. He also composed some of the most memorable film scores during Hollywood's Golden Age, such as SPELLBOUND, BEN-HUR, and EL CID.

The first 41 pages of A Composer's Notes are devoted to serving up the appetizers.

First, there are the usual Acknowledgements, and then an Author's Preface which describes mostly the author's difficulties in trying to get his manuscript accepted by a book publisher. While many struggling writers would probably identify with Dane's frustrating attempts, this description goes on far too long. His case is strongly stated but a shorter description would have been more appropriate and welcome.

Next comes the Foreword by that wonderful pianist, Leonard Pennario, who had the honor of having a piano concerto (op. 31) written especially for him by Miklos Rozsa.

Then the Introduction (1-12) and a section titled: "Film Music: Observations and Comments" (13-32).

After that, we get to the meat of the book.

Dane writes his correspondence offers "insight into the kind of relationship we had, and shed light on the evolution of the rapport that existed between us." (33)

What follows are a series of "Notes and Letters" from 1968-1978, 1979-1983, and 1984-1988.

In between are a fine display of photographs (61-70), and various facsimiles (107-136) of correspondence and music examples in Dr. Rozsa's own handwriting, as well as mailgrams from Dane. These are useful and worthwhile illustrations.

The final two sections are especially poignant.

"A Visit with Miklos Rozsa - Los Angeles, California" (273-79) tells in loving detail of his invitation to visit Dr. Rozsa at his home. The final section, "Miklos Rozsa - A Memorial Tribute" (281-84), is Dane's personal reflection of the composer's impact on him and was originally written for the official journal of the Miklos Rozsa Society in Australia. He opens his memorial tribute with this statement: "It was largely because of Miklos Rozsa that I've devoted my life to music. I didn't choose it. It chose me.My having gotten to know him personally and well had effects upon me that have lasted to this very day."

That can pretty well sum up the tone and content of this interesting recollection by a devoted admirer about his relationship with Dr. Rozsa, the gracious gentleman who titled his autobiography, "Double Life" (concert music and film music).

Just look at the marvelous photo of a kindly Dr. Rozsa on the book's cover (provided by the composer's son, Nicholas) and you'll understand why Jeffrey Dane was in such admiration of this great composer of our time.

A Composer's Notes is a good read for film music fans, concert listeners, musicians, and even composers -- and I'm one of them, though not anywhere near the high plateau of Miklos Rozsa.

Jeffrey Dane has made the composer come alive though his correspondence and raised the appreciation of Dr. Rozsa's concert and film music at the same time.

This book is warmly recommended.

 

Roger Hall, Editor, Film Music Review
1 September 2007

 

See also these articles by FMR contributing writer, Steve Vertlieb:

Recollections of Rozsa

Remembrances of Rozsa

A Tribute to Miklos Rozsa in Washington, DC

And in addition...

CD Review: THE PRIVATE LIFE OF SHERLOCK HOLMES

100th Birthday Tribute to Miklos Rozsa and Web Poll

 


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