Adolf Busch
Title Details

1438 Pages

23.4 x 15.6 cm

255 b/w illus.

Imprint: Toccata Press

Adolf Busch

The Life of an Honest Musician [2 volume set] - Revised edition

by Tully Potter

  • Description
  • Contents
  • Author
  • Reviews
Monumental biography of one of the major musicians of the twentieth century.

Revised edition: Adolf Busch (1891-1952) was an all-round musician and a moral beacon in troubled times. As first violin of the Busch String Quartet, founded in 1912, he was the greatest quartet-player of the last century and he led a famous conductorless orchestra, the Busch Chamber Players. He was also the busiest solo violinist of the inter-War years, regularly performing major concertos with such conductors as Nikisch, Toscanini, Weingartner, Walter, Furtwängler, Boult, Wood, Barbirolli and his elder brother Fritz. He was, moreover, an outstanding composer whose works enjoyed performances in Germany and further afield. Frequently he appeared as soloist and composer in the same concert.

His courageous decision to boycott his native country from April 1933 - despite Hitler's efforts to persuade 'our German violinist' to return - drastically reduced his income and damaged his career as soloist and composer. In 1938, because of Mussolini's race laws, he imposed a similar boycott on Italy, where he was wildly popular. The following year he emigrated with his quartet colleagues to the United States, where he was not fully appreciated, although he had many successes with a new chamber orchestra and founded the Marlboro summer school.

This biography, based on more than thirty years' research, examines Busch's exemplary behaviour in the context of a tumultuous era. Volume One traces his progress from childhood in Westphalia, through friendships with Fritz Steinbach, Donald Tovey and Max Reger, early triumphs in Berlin, London and Vienna, years of maturity and fulfilment, rejection of Hitler's Germany and close bonds with British musicians and concert-goers in the 1930s. It ends just before his move into American exile. Volume Two follows Busch through the Second World War, his return to give concerts in Europe in the late 1940s and his founding of the Marlboro summer school in Vermont shortly before his untimely death. A series of appendices consider Busch as violinist, violist and teacher, his taste and repertoire, his interpretations, his colleagues, his celebrated recordings and his compositions.

This revised edition now features full colour covers and additional photographs added to the generous quantity presented in the first edition. Information from Scottish composer, Erik Chrisholm, which has come to light since the first edition gives a delightful picture of Busch and his colleagues in the early 1930s. The appendices and indexes have been thoroughly updated and the discography has been overhauled to reflect the large number of fresh reissues of Busch's recordings as well as new recordings of his compositions.
Volume One: 1891-1939
I.The Busch Family
II.The Prodigy
III.The Cologne Conservatory
IV.The Young Virtuoso
V.The Vienna Years
VI.Berlin and Busoni
VII.The Darmstadt Days
VIII. Burgeoning in Basel
IX.The Break
X.Busch the Man
XI.The Chamber Players
XII.The Lucerne Festival

Volume Two: 1939-52
XIII.The New World
XIV.Between Two Continents
XV.The Marlboro School of Music
1.Busch and the Violin
2.Taste and Repertoire
3.Busch as Interpreter: Comments on his Performances
4.Busch the Teacher
5. Busch and the Viola
6.Six Tributes: Joseph Szigeti and Max Strub on Adolf Busch; Edith Eisler, Recollections of Adolf Busch; A Letter from a Member of the Busch Little Symphony; Yehudi Menuhin on Fritz and Adolf Busch; Sir Adrian Boult on the Busch Brothers
7.The Busch Ensembles: An Outline of their Histories
8.The Art of Ensemble Playing, by Adolf Busch
9.Adolf Busch Discusses Ways of Musical Progress
10.Colleagues and Contemporaries: Personalia
11. Busch on Record: A Complete Discography, with Commentary
12.Busch the Composer: Commentaries and Work List
Index of Busch's Works
General Index

Tully Potter, born in Edinburgh in 1942, spent his formative years in South Africa. A serious record collector since the age of twelve, he has made a special study of performing practice in vocal, string and chamber music. He is opera critic for The Daily Mail and for more than half a century has contributed to musical periodicals. He wrote many articles for The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians and Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart and has lectured widely on historical recordings. From 1997 to 2008 he edited Classic Record Collector.

"'The book is a barn-burner, impossible to put down, as the musical world of the era flashes by. To those who would say that 1432 pages are too many, I would reply: Show me a paragraph that is less than necessary.'" James H. North, Fanfare
"'This is a magisterial account of Busch's life and times, and it is impossible to imagine anything surpassing it. But this is only part of its substance. Tully Potter's substantial detours into the lives and attitudes of colleagues and contemporaries, are of equivalent value.'" Simon Wynberg
"'Tully Potter's epic narrative - a real labour of love which has preoccupied him for the past 40 years.'" Erik Levi, Tempo
"'Every great musician deserves his or her Tully Potter.'" Rob Cowan, Gramophone
"'Adolf Busch had an enormous impact on music in the first half of the 20th century - a fact which has been in danger of being forgotten. [...] These two massive, copiously illustrated volumes, Tully Potter's labour of love, should do much to rectify this.'" Howard Goldstein, BBC Music Magazine
"'I consider you have written the best book on any musical subject that I have ever read.'" Christopher Wellington, violist and musicologist
"'What a splendid accomplishment this is - surely such a valuable subject could not have been treated, equalled or indeed attempted by any other living musical writer to this standard.'" Robert Matthew-Walker, Musical Opinion
"'This is indeed something to celebrate.'" David Gutman, International Record Review
"'Justly is Potter able to conclude that "his life shines as a rare affirmation that it is possible to be an honest musician and an honest man".'" Rick Jones, The Tablet
"'Potter's book is [...] so wonderfully well written and researched that that anyone with more than a casual interest in Busch and his times will find it an unexpectedly easy read.'" Terry Teachout,
"'Monumental et fascinant, une reference!'" Jean-Michel Molkhou, Diapason
"'Dieses Buch darf als kleine Sensation gelten.'" Dr Helge Grünewald, Siegener Zeitung
"'...a sweep and majesty that is in the tradition of such great British writers as Donald Francis Tovey and critics like Peter Pirie'." Laurence Vittes,
"'Potter's writing is fluid and engaging, and besides exhaustively charting Busch's remarkable career, he shifts smoothly between personal insights, musical discussion and wider observations.'" Nathaniel Valois, The Strad
"'These two hefty volumes constitute one of the most important musical biographies to appear in recent years.'" Dennis Rooney, ARSC Journal
"'Now, thanks to Tully Potter's two-volume biography [...], what [Busch] achieved and suffered, what made him the transcendent musician he was - the idealism and moral greatness that suffused his interpretations, above all of Beethoven - are for the first time laid out for all to see.'" David Cairns, Sunday Times



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Title Details

1438 Pages

2.34 x 1.56 cm

255 b/w illus.

Imprint: Toccata Press