Leonard Rose: America’s Golden Age and Its First Cellist by Steven Honigberg

I have an admission to make. I haven’t quite finished this book yet. Leonard Rose is a fascinating man, devoted to the cello, dedicated, a perfectionist and the book is well-researched, detailed and truly interesting, I’m just finding it slow reading. It’s tough to keep straight all the other musicians, composers and conductors Rose comes in contact with. I have some small bits of knowledge about classical music, but I feel like I would connect with this book so much more if I just knew more. I am thankful for the CD that was tucked into the cover. Actually hearing Rose play adds a whole new dimension to the book.

One of the few cellists I have actually heard of, perhaps the only one is Yo-Yo Ma, who was actually one of Rose’s students once upon a time.

“If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulder of giants,” said Ma, in reflection of his own resplendent time in the limelight….”I’m one of the beneficiaries of the landscape that was built by Leonard Rose,” Ma said earnestly. ” Mr Rose gave each of us a large piece of brick and mortar in the cultural building landscape. What are we doing with the brick? How are we building on top of his work? How do we actually add to the process as opposed to the process of the zero sum game?” (pg. 287)

Not only was Leonard Rose the premier cellist, he was a also a teacher, a father, a friend, a husband. Hongiberg discusses all aspects of Rose’s life, from his childhood, the son of Jewish immigrants, through his career and also touches on his personal life. He was not perfect, he had failings, but he was an artist whose influence can still be seen.

Ma informed this author, “He had the most beautiful form and sound I have ever heard.” Knowingly, Rose smiles in his eternity. (pg. 288)

The admiration the author, also one of Rose’s students, has for Rose and the passion he has for the cello shines through in this work. It’s not easiest to read, but Honigberg had done a very through job and this becomes essentially a tribute to an amazing artist.

My copy was provided by the author for review and the above is my honest opinion. I am an Amazon associate.

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