Frankfurt Book Fair, Day 2

by Virginio Sala
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I expected a few books about Franz Liszt, pending the 2011 anniversary, but I was in for a surprise: up to now, I found only one, not too surprisingly published by Schott, but surprisingly dedicated to the Italian years of his life: Franz Liszt. Die Jahre in Rom und Tivoli was written (in German) by Ernst Burger, pianist and writer based in Munich (and author of Robert Schumann. Eine Lebenschronik in Bildern und Documenten, published at the beginning of 2010). It is a large fomat book, lavishly illustrated (around 400 color and b/w illustrations) with a foreword and a CD of Sir Alfred Brendel, for a cover price of 49,95 Euros (in Germany). Anyway, Liszt was in Italy from 1861 to 1886, 25 years, so the book covers a good part of his life, and virtually all of his late works. The publisher emphasizes also the fact that the book gives an extended portrait of Rom in the nineteenth century, probably hoping to lure in not only the lovers of Liszt but also the lovers of Italy and of the Italian capital city. As an Italian, the idea can flatten me but I’m a little skeptical about the double target.

The birthday of Liszt was the 22nd of October, so there is more than one year for celebrating the virtuoso and the composer – and my grand tour of the Buchmesse is not yet complete (and probably something I missed).

Schott is of course a specialized publisher, and its new publications flyer has got something else for us (everything in German): Musik und Rhythmus. Grundlagen – Geschichte – Analyse [Music and Rhythm. Fundamentals, History, Analysis) by Peter Petersen, formerly author of a couple of books about Werner Henze; Die Ordung der Klänge. Eine Kulturgeschichte des Hörens [The order of Sounds. A cultural History of Hearing] by R. Murray Schafer, edited by Sabine Breitsamete, professor of Sound Design and Production at the Hochschule of Darmstadt, and a few titles in the “Serie Musik”, a very good paperback serie: Bartok. Leben und Werk [Lfe and Works] by Tadeusz A. Zielinski, just published in October, and Carlos Kleiber. Eine Biografie by Alexander Werner.

Interesting also a series of books for children (of at least 4, 5 or 7 years, depending on the title), with four color illustrations, hardcover and a CD: Maximus Musikus besucht das Orchester [Maximus Musikus pays a visit to the orchestra], Schlaf gut mit dem Musikater. Geschichte, Gedichte und viel Musik [Sleep well with the Music Cat. Tales, poems and a lot of music], Robert Schumann (a portrait), and so on.

The most interesting discoveries (for me, at least) were a couple of smaller publishers in the Gerrman-speaking area. The first is Verlag Der Apfel (www.verlagderapfel.at), based in Wien, Austria: one of the new titles is a collection of essays on Donizetti und seine Zeit in Wien [Donizetti and his years in Wien]. On their catalog also is a couple of books on Die Wiener Hofoper, both by Miichael Jahn, the first devoted to the years 1810-1836 (starting from year 1810, when was staged Spontini’s “La vestale” at the then Kärnthnerthortheater), the second to the “Balochino-Merelli era”, the years 1836 to 1848. 488 pages the first, 724 the second – wonderful sources for one of the most important historical theaters. Mister Thomas C. Cubasch, the publisher, is a wonderful man, who apparently loves his work. I’m sure we will have a chance to know him (and his other publications) better in the future.

Mister Lehmstedt, of the Lehmstedt Verlag (based in Leipzig) is the other surprise: he wrote a big book on Art Tatum, I’m sure, out of sheer passion. I hope to meet him here – or virtually on the Net.

Reclam has a long history of small paperback books, with a typical cover made of a solid background color (traditionally yellow, then also red or green, but recently they added illustrations or more complex designs) with a simple lettering. I’m a little biased, I love these books. They recently published Bach hören by Michael Wersin, a short intoduction to Bach’s music; at the beginning of the year, they published Robert Schumann by Dagma Hoffmann-Axthelm (a musical and psychological study). On the popular music side, next month will be available a book by Ingo Meyer, dedicated to Frank Zappa.

Of course, there are many other interesting books outside of the musical field. At least one deserves to be mentioned: Vittorio Magnago Lampugnani’s Die Stadt im 20. Jahrhundert [The city in the 20th century], published by Klaus Wagenbach (www.wagenbach.de). It’s a two-volume work (912 pages, 640 color illustrations), really fascinating at first sight. 1990 to 1995 Magnago Lampugnani (an Italian, Rom-born architect based in Milano) was diector of the German Architecture Museum in Frankfurt.

I spent part of the afternoon attending the Storydrive conference in the Fair’s Forum. One of the announced speakers was Dave Stewart, the musician, scheduled for a talk about “The X-Factor: remixed Marketing” and for the final round table “What’s next?”. Unfortunately, Dave Stewart wasn’t there, but I’ve got a chance to hear Mark Simmons (co-author with Stewart of The business playground, Where creativiy and commerce collide), Tendo Nagenda (Walt Disney Productions), Carl Erik Rinsch (Ridley Scott Associates), Tracey Armstrong (President & CEO of the Copyright Clearance Center) and a few other voices from the industry. Nothing was really new, but I appreciated Simmons’s presentation of the key concept in his and Stewart’s book (and in his previous book, Punk marketing) – entertaining and instructive.

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