Cover image for Quintet : five journeys toward musical fulfillment
Quintet : five journeys toward musical fulfillment
Blum, David, 1935-1998.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Ithaca, NY : Cornell University Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
xiii, 185 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
General Note:
Articles originally published in The New Yorker and the New York times.
A process larger than oneself : profile of the cellist Yo-Yo-Ma -- Walking to the pavilion : profile of the conductor Jeffrey Tate -- A gold coin : profile of the violinist Josef Gingold -- Going to the core : profile of the pianist Richard Goode -- The farm girl and the stones : profile of the singer Birgit Nilsson.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML394 .B66 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Quintet presents compelling portraits of five artists known and loved by aficionados of classical music: the cellist Yo-Yo Ma, the conductor Jeffrey Tate, the violinist Josef Gingold, the pianist Richard Goode, and the opera singer Birgit Nilsson. This gracefully written book offers a deeply personal look at the lives of these immensely talented and hard-working performers. The essays grew out of conversations the musicians had with the late David Blum, who was himself distinguished both as a conductor and as an author of books and articles on musical subjects.Certain to delight music enthusiasts, Quintet is a perfect holiday gift.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The classical musician's life can seem sublime, a matter of expressing beauty every day. As Blum presents the lives of cellist Yo-Yo Ma, conductor Jeffrey Tate, concertmaster Josef Gingold, pianist Richard Goode, and soprano Birgit Nilsson, they don't contradict that presumed sublimity. All five speak happily and wonderingly about the music that means the most to them: for Ma, Bach's unaccompanied cello suites; for Goode, Schubert's last sonatas; for Nilsson, Wagner's operas; for Tate and Gingold, the symphonic and chamber core repertoires. Of course, each has had to cope with personal foibles and incapacities; for instance, Ma was a foolhardy youngster, and Tate has been severely disabled from birth. But each is pleased to be engaged with music, and all consider themselves figures in a historical continuum of musical performance that is, like the pieces they play, greater than themselves. Moreover, each is a teacher of young musicians; indeed, Gingold is an acknowledged titan among violin teachers. Blum's profiles of them, organized as a book just before his death, are like five lovely songs. --Ray Olson

Library Journal Review

The late conductor-turned-journalist Blum was one of the most articulate of all contemporary writers on music. These extended portraits of five musical luminaries--Yo Yo Ma, Jeffrey Tate, Josef Gingold, Richard Goode, and Birgit Nilsson--first appeared in The New Yorker and the New York Times and are all remarkable documents about remarkable people. The first chapter on Ma provides readers with a fascinating glimpse of the cellist. Among the most moving chapters are those on Tate, who overcame severe physical disabilities to become a world-class conductor, and Gingold, a Russian ‚migr‚ who rose from poverty to become a revered concert master and teacher. Blum's pieces rely on conversations with his subjects and extensive interviews with their relatives, friends, and associates. His own personality is unobtrusive, yet his keen musical intelligence runs like a thread throughout. Recommended for public and college libraries.--Larry A. Lipkis, Moravian Coll., Bethlehem, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

The late musician and writer David Blum conducted extended interviews with five renowned musical performers that led to pieces in The New Yorker and The New York Times, pieces collected in the present volume. The musicians (Yo-Yo Ma, Jeffrey Tate, Josef Gingold, Richard Goode, Birgit Nilsson) distinguished themselves in various ways; Blum emphasizes different aspects of each career and personality. Tate, for example, faced severe physical challenges on his road to professional eminence. Blum does not shrink from this fact, but neither does he let it overshadow Tate's artistic achievement. The lives described here, dauntingly complex in many respects, should serve as cautionary models for those who aspire to performing careers. Blum never fawns over his subjects, and his deep musical acumen allows him to place Goode's Schubert and Ma's Bach in appropriate perspective. Would that the literature included similarly knowing, firsthand portraits of the great musicians of the 18th and 19th centuries; they would have helped alter the study of historical performance practice. Recommended for any library with a general music collection. B. J. Murray; University of Alabama