Adolf Busch

September 2010
150 black and white illustrations
1408 pages
25x15 cm
ISBN: 9780907689508
Format: Hardback
Toccata Press
BISAC BIO004000, MUS020000

Adolf Busch

The Life of an Honest Musician

Tully Potter

out of stock

Based on extensive research, this biography of the great violinist and composer, Adolf Busch, sets his life against the tumultuous times in which he lived. Two volume set including two CDs.
Adolf Busch (1891-1952) was not only an all-round musician; he was also a moral beacon in troubled times. Now remembered as the first violin of the Busch String Quartet, which he founded in 1912, he was the greatest quartet-player of the last century and also the busiest solo violinist of the inter-War years, regularly performing the great concertos with such conductors as Toscanini, Walter, Furtwängler, Boult, Barbirolli and many others. He was, moreover, an outstanding composer whose works enjoyed performances both at home in Germany and further afield.

But at the peak of his popularity his profound sense of decency and his simple human dignity brought about a dramatic reversal in his fortunes. 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 had been one of the most popular of classical performers. 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 his chamber orchestra and founded the Marlboro summer school.

This biography, based on more than thirty years' research, documents Busch's life, examining his exemplary behaviour in the context of the tumultuous period in which he lived. 'Adolf is a saint', declared Arturo Toscanini. And Sir Ernest Gombrich said of Busch: 'He was exactly as he played - there was not a false tone in him'. Two volume set including two CDs.

Winner of the 2011 ARSC Award (Association for Recorded Sound Collections), category Best Research (History) in Recorded Classical Music.
Keywords: Music


The words magisterial and monumental are no hyperbole as applied to this remarkable pair of volumes AMERCAN RECORD GUIDE

This is far and away the greatest biography of a musician [...] I have encountered for many years. It is simply a magnificent achievement after what must have been lifetime's study. MUSICAL OPINION

Potter's deeply researched tomes encapsulate a whole era of musical history in lucid, engaging prose that brings Busch and his contemporaries vividly to life. STRINGENDO

Tully Potter's epic narrative [is] a real labour of love which has preoccupied him for the past 40 years.TEMPO

Potter's point of view regards Busch's life as a journey that needs to be witnessed and observed to understand the life and times of the man. [...] As portrayed by Potter, classical music not only affects individuals, it affects nations as well. STRINGS

A labour of love 30 years in the making, this monumental biography does credit to its subject, its author and its publisher. [...] The book brims with fascinating, amusing, surprising and touching incident and insight. THE STRAD

After reading Tully Potter's exhaustive two-volume biography Adolf Busch 'The Life of an Honest Musician', one comes away not only with the greatest respect and admiration for the subject. THE TABLET

A brief review cannot hope to do justice to this comprehensively researched and beautifully produced book. [...] How to behave under a tyranny is a complicated question for all but a few rare spirits. Busch was one of them. This remarkable book honours him for it, at last, and for his wonderful music-making. SUNDAY TIMES

The book is a barn-burner, impossible to put down, as the musical world of the era flashes by. [...] this is a magnificent achievement, one to challenge all future biographers of any musician. FANFARE

[D]eserves wider circulation in its own right, as an evocation of a tumultuous era in which right and wrong were plainly discernible yet all too rarely acted upon. INTERNATIONAL RECORD REVIEW

Every great musician deserves his or her Tully Potter. ... The variety of sources quoted is dizzying, from personal interviews... to little-known books and journals. GRAMOPHONE

[A]t once a stirring tale and a disturbing one. WALL STREET JOURNAL

A meticulous narrative of over 900 pages. BBC MUSIC [5 stars]

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