ATLANTIC, £10.99. ORDER WITH FREE P&P FROM 0870 079 8897
Mozart In The Jungle, by Blair Tindall
A view of life behind the prim and proper facade of classical music
Thursday 29 September 2005
Presented with middle-aged hindsight, this autobiography wants to have it both ways: as a raunchy exposé of the music business and a serious critique of its politics and economics. It also presents itself as a morality tale, with the heroine renouncing thrills and spills for "a value-driven life". It's no surprise that a writer who describes her love-making as "exuberant" should open with an expletive-splattered prelude depicting a bunch of top-flight musicians snorting and flogging coke in a Harlem slum.
Her virginity - idealism plus talent plus hard work - gets its first brush with corruption from a fondling conductor, then two teachers at her conservatory. But the real game starts when she hitches up with the principal oboist of the New York Philharmonic, and discovers that through his patronage she can get plenty of well-paid work. Then she hitches up with another power-broker, then another, until economic reality hits her between the eyes. Her freelancing prospects look bleak "since the oboists in a position to hire me were either my ex-boyfriends, or oboe rivals who hated my ex-boyfriends".
So what's a girl to do? The following chapter is titled "The Pits", the pits in question being those of Lloyd Webber musicals - more sex and drugs, and a stable income to boot. But the clock ticks remorselessly, and desperation sets in with an accelerating whirl of abortive relationships. "I was in a narcissistic industry that was stuck in the 19th century. I gave myself permission to escape."
Tindall concludes with a magnificent swipe at the fat cat conductors and administrators who grow rich on the backs of the bands they run.
Readable and graphic though it is, this book's presentation of musical reality feels skewed by the fact that its hell is self-created; a different oboist might have told a very different tale. Its best residue is of incidental things: the vignettes of great musicians, and the way the disabled pianist Sam Sanders - briefly a lover - counterpointed Tindall's sick comedy with his own heroic tragedy.
film Sex scene trailer sees a shirtless Jamie Dornan turn up the heat
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
- 2 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
- 5 Rashida Jones speaks out against male-centric porn saying 'women should have sex and feel good about it'
Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
Game of Thrones really doesn't want Danny Dyer - EastEnders star rejected three times
Game of Thrones season 5 trailer: The first full-length look is here
Sia apologises for 'Elastic Heart' music video that sees Shia LaBeouf wrestle 12-year-old Maddie Ziegler
The secret joke hidden in Silence of the Lambs' most famous line
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
Stephen Fry explains what he would say if he was 'confronted by God'
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures