Lebrecht, Norman 1948–

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Lebrecht, Norman 1948–

PERSONAL: Born July 11, 1948, in London, England; son of Solomon (a metal merchant) and Marguerite (Klein) Lebrecht; married Elbie Spivack (a sculptor, editor, and author), 1977; children: Naama Shulamit, Abigail Shira, Gabriella Clara. Education: Attended Kol Torah Rabbinical College, Jerusalem, Israel, 1964–65, and Bar Ilan University, 1966–68.

ADDRESSES: Agent—Curtis Brown, Ltd., Haymarket House, 28/29 Haymarket, London SW1 4SP, England. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Writer and editor. Israel Broadcasting Authority, Jerusalem, Israel, reporter and producer, 1970–72; Visnews Ltd., London, England, news executive in London and New York, NY, 1973–78; Sunday Times, London, special contributor, beginning 1981; Evening Standard, London, assistant editor; BBC Radio 3, London, presenter of lebrecht.live.

MEMBER: Society of Authors.

AWARDS, HONORS: Whitbread Award in first novel category, 2002, for The Song of Names.



Discord: Conflict and the Making of Music, Andre Deutsch (London, England), 1982, Universe Books (New York, NY), 1983.

Hush!: Handel's in a Passion: Tales of Bach, Handel, and their Contemporaries, Andre Deutsch (London, England), 1985.

(Compiler) The Book of Musical Anecdotes, Free Press (New York, NY), 1985.

A Musical Book of Days, Collins (London, England), 1987, Universe Books (New York, NY), 1989.

Mahler Remembered, Norton (New York, NY), 1988.

The Maestro Myth: Great Conductors in Pursuit of Power, Carol Publishing (Secaucus, NJ), 1991.

The Companion to Twentieth-Century Music, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1992.

Who Killed Classical Music?: Maestros, Managers, and Corporate Politics, Carol Publishing (Secaucus, NJ), 1997.

Covent Garden: The Untold Story: Dispatches from the English Culture War, 1945–2000, Northeastern University Press (Boston, MA), 2001.


The Song of Names (novel), Anchor (New York, NY), 2002.

Author's works have been translated into thirteen languages.

SIDELIGHTS: A music critic and commentator in his native England, Norman Lebrecht has written a number of nonfiction books about topics in classical music and its history. Lebrecht also has written a novel with a musical theme, the award-winning The Song of Names. In the novel, Martin Simmonds reconnects with a long lost close friend, Dovidl Rapaport. In 1939, Dovidl is a nine-year-old virtuoso-in-the-making Jewish violin player who is sent to England. He lives with the Simmonds family because Martin's father, Mortimer, is a classical concert promoter who is helping develop his talent. Dovidl eventually loses his parents in the Holocaust. Just before he is set to make his debut as professional musician under the name Eli Rapaport, the violin player vanishes, compelling Martin to spend many years looking for him. Martin finally comes across Dovidl again in the 1980s at a small music competition and learns what happened to him. In addition to the intricacies of the musical environment of the times, Lebrecht also explores issues of religion and identity related to Judaism. While a critic in Publishers Weekly found a few "shortcomings" in the book, the reviewer also noted "Lebrecht's deep knowledge of music, his insights and his verbal inventiveness enliven the book."

Lebrecht told CA: "The literature of music in the past half-century has confined itself generally to notational analysis in place of biographical narrative. While a knowledge of biographical incident is not a prerequesite to understanding music, it is often a gateway to a deeper appreciation. It can also make music a lot more fun than many of the professionals pretend it to be.

"In short, I write about music from the point of view of the social and cultural historian, rather than from the critical aspect of the musicologist. I am presently working on two more novels, and a history of the classical recording industry."



Economist, March 27, 2004, review of The Song of Names, p. 39.

Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 2001, review of Covent Garden: The Untold Story: Dispatches From the English Culture War, 1945–2000, p. 1094.

Publishers Weekly, November 24, 2003, review of The Song of Names, p. 39.


Music Web, http://www.musicweb.uk.net/ (December 6, 2005), Marc Bridel, interview with Norman Lebrecht.

Norman Lebrecht Home Page, http://www.normanlebrecht.com (November 7, 2005).