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Backstage View of a Musicianís Life


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WAYLAND, Mass. - Author and musician George Humphrey was a member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra for forty-three seasons, from 1934 to 1977. Follow the fascinating account of his life in his autobiography, Becoming a Musician

In Becoming a Musician, the author tells how he became a musician, starting out in a small town in Ohio. After graduating from the New England Conservatory and surviving the Depression years, he joined the Boston Symphony, one of the most prestigious orchestras in the world. He recounts his experiences during those years in the Symphony, along with his observations about Serge Koussevitzky, Charles Munch, and other conductors under whom he played, his fellow musicians, and the music they performed. He describes in particular what it was like to play under Serge Koussevitzky, the conductor of the Symphony when he joined it, and subsequently, Charles Munch and Erich Leinsdorf. He recalls their idiosyncrasies, their temperaments, and their treatment of the music they played.

This autobiography presents a backstage view of a musicianís life, remembering a life that took Humphrey all over the world, from Russia to Japan to Iceland. He explores the pressures of the musicianís life, the decisions faced, and the risks, accomplishments, and disappointments. He also recounts many of the humorous events that took place while he was a member of the orchestra, some from accidents that occurred during concerts and others due to the clashing temperaments of conductors and musicians. What is most apparent throughout is his dedication to his profession and his appreciation of music as a profound cultural force.

George Humphrey was born in Ohio, the son of an engineer on the Pennsylvania Railroad. At nineteen, inspired by some early recordings of Fritz Kreisler, he began studying the violin. Subsequently, he attended the New England Conservatory, where he changed to playing the viola. After graduating from the Conservatory in 1929, he was a member of several orchestras and ensembles. In 1934, after surviving the Depression years, he became a member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, then under the direction of Dr. Serge Koussevitzky. He remained with the orchestra for forty-three seasons, retiring in 1977. During the next year, he wrote this autobiography of his musical life. He recounts his experiences during those years in the Symphony, along with his observations about Serge Koussevitzky, Charles Munch, and other conductors under whom he played, his fellow musicians, and the music they performed. He died in 1980.



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