Mozart in the Jungle: Sex, Drugs, and Classical Music

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9780871138903: Mozart in the Jungle: Sex, Drugs, and Classical Music

From her debut recital at Carnegie Hall to performing with the orchestras of Les Misérables and Miss Saigon, oboist Blair Tindall has been playing classical music professionally for twenty-five years. She's also lived the secret life of musicians who survive hand to mouth, trading sex and drugs for low-paying gigs and the promise of winning a rare symphony position or a lucrative solo recording contract. In Mozart in the Jungle, Tindall describes her graduation from the North Carolina School of the Arts to the backbiting New York classical music scene, a world where Tindall and her fellow classical musicians often play drunk, high, or hopelessly hung-over, live in decrepit apartments, and perform in hazardous conditions. (In the cramped confines of a Broadway pit, the decibel level of one instrument is equal to the sound of a chain saw.) Mozart in the Jungle offers a stark contrast between the rarefied experiences of overpaid classical musician superstars and those of the working-class musicians. For lovers of classical music, Mozart in the Jungle is the first true, behind-the-scenes look at what goes on backstage and in the Broadway pit.

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From the Author:

"Mozart in the Jungle" travels around the globe, from performances in Vienna's Staatsoper, Rio's Teatro Colon and a remote Brazilian rainforest, then on to New York City, where Tindall and her musician colleagues live in the squalor of a decrepit west side tenement. A metaphor for the classical music business, the building has fallen from glory, its elaborate stone carving chipped, windows patched with cardboard, and its elegant décor plastered over by a greedy landlord and her predatory handyman. Outsiders have never looked farther than the ornate facade...until now.

Inside, music transforms a schoolteacher into a beautiful diva, and sustains a renowned pianist who endures two heart transplants to perform with the stars who pay him a pittance. An American goddess of the arts struggles to fulfill a dream, her ominous future mirrored by an older musician whose fantasies drain away in her lonely apartment upstairs. A stunning cellist becomes an AIDS-infected crack addict and prostitute; a Metropolitan Opera violinist is jailed for selling cocaine; and an African-American virtuoso becomes so lost inside the elitist white arts world that he smashes his $185,000 eighteenth-century French violin into splinters.

The drama of "Mozart in the Jungle" opens during America's Cold War-era optimism, and follows four musicians as their world dissolves into a culture of entitlement for a new generation of classical musicians, who are deaf to changing American tastes and demand. By weaving memoir with investigative arts journalism, Tindall shatters rhetoric about the arts in the United States -- in an real-life tale from a musician whose career paralleled America’s late twentieth-century culture boom. As "Mozart in the Jungle" races to its dramatic conclusion, Tindall reveals music as a simple, spiritual gift accessible to all.

About the Author:

Journalist and oboist Blair Tindall writes about classical music for the New York Times and has performed, toured and recorded with the New York Philharmonic and many other musical groups. She has taught journalism at Stanford University and oboe at the University of California-Berkeley.

"Mozart in the Jungle" was completed during a residency in 2004 at The MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, NH.

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Blair Tindall
Editore: Atlantic Monthly Press (2005)
ISBN 10: 0871138905 ISBN 13: 9780871138903
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