B0013. (REINER) Philip Hart. Fritz Reiner: A Biography. Evanston, IL, Northwestern University Press, 1994. 330pp. Index; Bibliography; Discography; Reiner's Repertoire; Photos. Hardbound Edition long out-of-print! Slightly used copy has minor underlining. Final Copy! - 9780810111257
"As an opera and orchestral conductor, Fritz Reiner had few equals and no betters during his lifetime. From his apprenticeship at the Dresden Opera through his decades at Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, the Met and finally Chicago, Reiner displayed a consummate musicianship and technical prowess that were truly awesome to behold. His death in 1963 terminated one of the outstanding conducting careers of the 20th century. Reiner's greatness as a musician, however, had little in common with Reiner the man. Fritz Reiner was one of the most feared, hated and tyrannical of conductors, and his extraordinary meanspiritedness and pettiness towards his players extended into his private life. In this biography, Philip Hart, who worked with Reiner in Chicago, shows him as a man with few discernable redeeming qualities. A more in-depth psychological portrait of Reiner would have been welcome, though Hart does address what he calls a "deep seated psychological insecurity in his character." Reiner's heinous treatment of his musicians was carried over into his interactions with his wives, his children and his friends. He seems to have been a deeply self-loathing individual who took these feelings out on those around him, but also sublimated these same feelings into his art, with astonishing results. Hart's biography is a decidedly mixed bag. It is often skimpy and superficial concerning personal matters, but also insightful and generous concerning his musicianship. The value of this biography, however, cannot be understated. Being the only biographical and critical profile of this colossal musician, Hart has done us a great service with this book, despite its obvious shortcomings. Anyone interested in great music or conducting will love this book."
- Ned Ludd