Saturday, 30 January 2016
Zweck is set in 1972. Bernard Robbins is a typical American in London. He is a mixture of innocence, arrogance and has a certain lack of knowledge about many of the things in life that matter.
He is in London to further his career as a concert pianist, a conductor and also as a composer of music.
By utter chance Bernard meets the only other member of his family who lives in London, his great uncle, Hermann Heinrich Zweck.
Now into his 90s, Zweck once had it all, he was an eminent composer. But now? Well, not so much eminence as there has been a somewhat dramatic slipping away of any public recognition of his once highly esteemed works.
Now Zweck is a one man force fighting a sort of guerilla war against what he sees as cowardice. laziness, ineptitude and stupidity of the entire world.
How can Bernard cope with the eccentricities and the rages -often capricious- of his older relative?
For some reason Zweck is excessively enraged by the hapless and less than offensive English musicologist Charles Forsythe. And he seems to have it in for Bernard, too!
But why? What motivates and drives Zweck and his rages?
Is it wine, women and song? Or perhaps just the latter two?
The book is subtitled "A novel and mostly reliable musical history."
The book is a delightful tale, which wanders off into all sorts of odd and somewhat arcane areas of musical history. For example, did you know of the link between Chief Sitting Bull and Rachmaninoff?
This is an interesting and marvellously mischievous novel and at £9.99 from Matador is available via the That's books Book Shop, available on the right hand side of this book review.