Mozart in the Jungle: Sex, Drugs, and Classical Music
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Mozart in the Jungle

Sex, Drugs, and Classical Music

By Blair Tindall

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Format: Paperback, 318 pages
Other Information: Illustrated
Published In: United States, 08 June 2006
In the tradition of Anthony Bourdain s "Kitchen Confidential" and Gelsey Kirkland s "Dancing on My Grave," "Mozart in the Jungle" delves into the lives of the musicians and conductors who inhabit the insular world of classical music. In a book that inspired the Amazon Original series starring Gael Garcia Bernal and Malcolm McDowell, oboist Blair Tindall recounts her decades-long professional career as a classical musicianfrom the recitals and Broadway orchestra performances to the secret life of musicians who survive hand to mouth in the backbiting New York classical music scene, where musicians trade sexual favors for plum jobs and assignments in orchestras across the city. Tindall and her fellow journeymen musicians often play drunk, high, or hopelessly hungover, live in decrepit apartments, and perform in hazardous conditions working-class musicians who schlep across the city between low-paying gigs, without health-care benefits or retirement plans, a stark contrast to the rarefied experiences of overpaid classical musician superstars. An incisive, no-holds-barred account, "Mozart in the Jungle" is the first true, behind-the-scenes look at what goes on backstage and in the Broadway pit."

About the Author

Blair Tindall is a regular contributor to The New York Times, Sierra Magazine, and the San Francisco Examiner; her work has also appeared in The Wall Street Journal and Art & Antiques. The recipient of a MacDowell Fellowship, Tindall holds an M.A. in journalism from Stanford University. She lives in Los Angeles, CA.

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Journalist and oboist Tindall has fashioned a tell-all memoir of her life from the 1960s to today, tracing her years at the North Carolina School of the Arts, study at the Manhattan School of Music, experiences playing in chamber groups like Orpheus, and making a Carnegie Recital Hall debut before heading off to Stanford for graduate work in journalism. Famous and less well known musicians invariably come across badly in the author's estimation, as either impolite, unfriendly, or downright lecherous. The book would have been much better had Tindall decided which audience she was trying to reach. While her discourses on the role of the arts in America during different decades, the travails of the audition process, the life of a traveling musician, and the role of unions engage and inform, she spends a lot of time on her sexual exploits, drinking, drug use, and "casting couch" encounters-content not for the faint of constitution. Public libraries in the New York City area serving patrons who lap up this sort of thing might consider, but all others can skip.-Barry Zaslow, Miami Univ. Libs., Oxford, OH Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

By age 16, the author of this alternately piquant and morose memoir was dealing marijuana, bedding her instructors at a performing arts high school and studying the oboe. Later, her blossoming career as a freelance musician in New York introduced her to a classical music demimonde of cocaine parties and group sex that had her wondering why she "got hired for so many of my gigs in bed." But the vivace of the chapters on her bohemian salad days subsides to a largo as she heads toward 40 and the sex and drugs recede along with dreams of stardom; the reality of a future in Broadway orchestra pits (where she reads magazines as she plays to stave off boredom) sets in. Tindall escaped to journalism, but her resentment of an industry that "squeezed me dry of spontaneity" and turns other musicians into hollow-eyed "galley slaves" is raw. She mounts a biting critique of the conservatories that churn out thousands of graduates each year to pursue a handful of jobs, the superstar conductors and soloists who lord it over orchestral peons and a fine arts establishment she depicts as bloated and ripe for downsizing. Tindall's bitterness over what might still strike many readers as a pretty great career is a bit overdone, but she offers a fresh, highly readable and caustic perspective on an overglamorized world. Photos. Agent, James Fitzgerald. (July) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

EAN: 9780802142535
ISBN: 0802142532
Publisher: Grove/Atlantic
Dimensions: 20.47 x 15.75 x 2.18 centimeters (0.34 kg)
Age Range: 15+ years
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3 of 5 Stars! '

Interesting. Not quite what I was expecting - slightly less of the sex, drugs, and Chopin, and slightly more of the history and economics of the classical music scene in the US in the 20th century, but generally pretty engaging.

I'm always left wondering what those who know the author, and those who feature in such candid autobiographies make of the finished product.

 
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