In 2010 Alan Prendergast wrote a long article about the life of novelist John Williams and how he was beginning, at long last, to find a sizable audience. How true that turned out to be, as Williams' 1965 novel Stoner subsequently became a bestseller all over Europe, first in French translation, but later elsewhere in Europe, and it has begun to get glowing notices in his native US. Williams is not around to enjoy the success, as he passed away in 1994. Now another of his novels, Augustus, has also begun its rise from obscurity. The New York Review of Books republished it last year on the occasion of the 2000th anniversary of the first Roman Emperor's death. On the NYRB website you can read Daniel Mendelsohn's fine introduction to the book.
In 1998, after over 40 years in the music studio, orchestral arranger and music producer Sir George Martin (the 5th Beatle, or maybe the 6th, or possibly the 7th, depending on how you count or where your priorities lie) decided he was going to retire with a selfish project: recording an album (mostly) entirely of Beatles songs. This ~50 minute BBC documentary recorded many moments from the creation of this swan song, In My Life. The film features interviews with and studio footage of Phil Collins, Robin Williams, Bobby McFerrin, JohnWilliams (classical guitarist, not Star Wars composer), Goldie Hawn, Jim Carrey, and Céline Dion. [more inside]
28 years ago this summer, Leo Arnaud's "Bugler's Dream" suddenly found it had competition for the title of The Olympic Theme. Composer John Williams was commissioned to create a new fanfare, and "Olympic Fanfare and Theme" was the result, with the Fanfare portion being played at every medal ceremony in the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. But that wasn't the only music created for those Olympic Games... [more inside]
John Williams turned 80 today! The American composer is best known for the themes from Star Wars, Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Indiana Jones, but starting with the score adaptation for Valley of the Dolls, he's racked up 47 Oscar nominations in a 44-year span, including 5 wins. [more inside]
Music is a book/app/documentary film by photographer/film-maker Andrew Zuckerman (previously). Similar in format to Zuckerman's film Wisdom, Music features interviews with musical luminaries both fully- and not-so-luminous. [more inside]
The Second Pass is an exclusively online publication devoted to reviews, essays, and blog posts about books new and old. It is updated every weekday. [via]
Something calming after the frenzied conventions. John Williams and Julian Bream team up to play a guitar duet of Debussy's Claire De Lune.
Mario is at bat, man! Just in time to handle your jones for singalong fan bonding, to speak the heretofore unspoken truths of super jawesome classic film themes. Also he dresses up, like it's, um, Halloween.
"Hard Numbers: The Economy is Worse than You Know" [full article for Harper's subscribers, a different abridged version] discusses how the Consumer Price Index and other US economic statistics have been manipulated over time. Among other things, the article claims, these changes make Social Security checks 70% lower than they would otherwise be. [more inside]