PERFORMING ARTS

In My Own Time: An Autobiography

Boydell & Brewer. May 2021. 630p. ISBN 9781783274819. $34.95. MEMOIR
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Burton has written biographies of some of classical music’s luminaries, including Leonard Bernstein, Yehudi Menuhin, and William Walton. In his work as the former head of BBC Television’s music and arts programming, Burton captured not only the beauty of each composer’s work but also the intimate details of their creative process. Now he reflects on his own evolution, from a curious but intellectually distracted young man at Cambridge University, to an accomplished figure who in 2020 was knighted for his contributions to classical music. He provides a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the BBC and the colorful personalities of the classical music world throughout the 20th century. Of particular note is the chapter covering Bernstein’s death in 1990. With humor, introspection, and sadness, Burton recounts his final months with “the Maestro” and the subsequent three years of grieving and writing that resulted in his Bernstein biography.
VERDICT Burton’s autobiography is as rich and dense as his prolific career. Those with a serious interest in classical music will be delighted.
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