There are two different approaches these days to writing about the most celebrated living musicians. The first is hagiographical, with the musical sainthood in question arising less from beauty of soul than from efficiency of press agent. Prime examples of such cultist efforts are the sentimental books about opera singers now seemingly a necessary accompaniment to an over- and misused voice. The second is spiteful; it takes its raison d’être from nothing more profound than the natural human desire to cut the famous down to size. A prime recent example of this way of writing biography was Glenn Plaskin’s life of Vladimir Horowitz, in which the artist, and those around him, were blamed for his not emerging publicly as a full-fledged, lifelong homosexual.[1] This year music lovers have been presented with another example of the spiteful approach...


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