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Nicolas Nabokov: A Life in Freedom and Music

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Composer, cultural diplomat, and man about town, Nicolas Nabokov (1903-78) counted among his intimate friends everyone from Igor Stravinsky to George Kennan. While today he is overshadowed by his more famous cousin Vladimir, Nicolas Nabokov was during his lifetime an outstanding and far-sighted player in international cultural exchanges during the Cold War and admired by so Composer, cultural diplomat, and man about town, Nicolas Nabokov (1903-78) counted among his intimate friends everyone from Igor Stravinsky to George Kennan. While today he is overshadowed by his more famous cousin Vladimir, Nicolas Nabokov was during his lifetime an outstanding and far-sighted player in international cultural exchanges during the Cold War and admired by some of the most distinguished minds of his century for his political acumen and his talents as a composer. This first-ever biography of Nabokov follows the fascinating stages of his life: a privileged childhood before the Revolution; the beginnings of a promising musical career launched under the aegis of Diaghilev; his involvement in anti-Stalinist causes in the first years of the Cold War; his participation in the Congress for Cultural Freedom; his role as cultural advisor to the Mayor of Berlin and director of the Berlin Festival in the early 1960s; his American academic and musical career in the late 1960s and 1970s. Nabokov is unique not only in that he was involved on a high level in international cultural politics, but also in that his life intersected at all times with a vast array of people within - and also well beyond - the confines of classical music. Drawing on a vast array of primary sources, Vincent Giroud's biography opens a window into history for readers interested in twentieth-century music, Russian emigration, and the Cold War, particularly in its cultural aspects. Musicians and musicologists interested in Nabokov as a composer, or in twentieth century Russian composers in general, will find in this book information not available anywhere else.


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Composer, cultural diplomat, and man about town, Nicolas Nabokov (1903-78) counted among his intimate friends everyone from Igor Stravinsky to George Kennan. While today he is overshadowed by his more famous cousin Vladimir, Nicolas Nabokov was during his lifetime an outstanding and far-sighted player in international cultural exchanges during the Cold War and admired by so Composer, cultural diplomat, and man about town, Nicolas Nabokov (1903-78) counted among his intimate friends everyone from Igor Stravinsky to George Kennan. While today he is overshadowed by his more famous cousin Vladimir, Nicolas Nabokov was during his lifetime an outstanding and far-sighted player in international cultural exchanges during the Cold War and admired by some of the most distinguished minds of his century for his political acumen and his talents as a composer. This first-ever biography of Nabokov follows the fascinating stages of his life: a privileged childhood before the Revolution; the beginnings of a promising musical career launched under the aegis of Diaghilev; his involvement in anti-Stalinist causes in the first years of the Cold War; his participation in the Congress for Cultural Freedom; his role as cultural advisor to the Mayor of Berlin and director of the Berlin Festival in the early 1960s; his American academic and musical career in the late 1960s and 1970s. Nabokov is unique not only in that he was involved on a high level in international cultural politics, but also in that his life intersected at all times with a vast array of people within - and also well beyond - the confines of classical music. Drawing on a vast array of primary sources, Vincent Giroud's biography opens a window into history for readers interested in twentieth-century music, Russian emigration, and the Cold War, particularly in its cultural aspects. Musicians and musicologists interested in Nabokov as a composer, or in twentieth century Russian composers in general, will find in this book information not available anywhere else.

34 review for Nicolas Nabokov: A Life in Freedom and Music

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mandy

    A thorough, painstakingly and meticulously researched biography of this relatively little known composer, cousin of the more famous writer Vladimir Nabokov. I was certainly interested in this man of wide-ranging interests and talents but found this book a rather turgid and far too detailed account for pleasant reading. This is not really a book for the general reader though will prove invaluable for the academic and more scholarly one. Too much detail always slows down the narrative and I just f A thorough, painstakingly and meticulously researched biography of this relatively little known composer, cousin of the more famous writer Vladimir Nabokov. I was certainly interested in this man of wide-ranging interests and talents but found this book a rather turgid and far too detailed account for pleasant reading. This is not really a book for the general reader though will prove invaluable for the academic and more scholarly one. Too much detail always slows down the narrative and I just felt bogged down in so much extraneous matter that wasn’t of interest to me. Nevertheless I believe this is the first full-scale study of Nabokov, so it’s an important, if heavy, tome.

  2. 4 out of 5

    DKA

  3. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  4. 5 out of 5

    Alexander Malinin

  5. 4 out of 5

    James Wilson

  6. 5 out of 5

    Frederick Rotzien

  7. 4 out of 5

    Cherlynn Womack

  8. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

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    Brenda Hoffman

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kim Myers

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    Donna Schubert

  12. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

  13. 5 out of 5

    Gordon Bingham

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    Erin

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    Sandra

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    Leigh Anne Kincaid

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    Dalar P

  18. 4 out of 5

    Marilyn

  19. 4 out of 5

    J

  20. 5 out of 5

    Tammy Pooser

  21. 4 out of 5

    Dr. Cole Marie Mckinnon

  22. 4 out of 5

    Barbara Zitsch

  23. 4 out of 5

    Theresa Marie

  24. 5 out of 5

    Michael

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jason

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    Michelle

  27. 5 out of 5

    Billie

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    Albert

  29. 4 out of 5

    Pam

  30. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  31. 4 out of 5

    Christina

  32. 5 out of 5

    Patty

  33. 4 out of 5

    Grace

  34. 5 out of 5

    David Bathurst

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