Kenneth Leighton on Hans Gal (why used bookstores rule)

Used bookstores may be one of the coolest institutions that the human race has produced. I hope they survive the digital age. A scan of an old book loses so much of what the paper version offers.

A case in point: The other day, I found and orded a used copy of my man Han Gal’s book Schubert and the Essence of Melody online at a used bookstore in Edinburgh. When the book arrived on Friday, it held a delightful surprise- tucked inside the front cover were several original newspaper clippings. Two Gal obituaries and a review of the book itself by Conrad Wilson. I’ve scanned them and posted here for curious readers.

Of particular interest to me is the obituary from composer Kenneth Leighton. I didn’t know Leighton’s music at all until last Fall, when a friend gave me a recording of his 2nd Symphony which completely blew me away. I’d say Leighton’s music was one of my most exciting discoveries of the past musical year. I hope I get to conduct some of his music soon.

Leighton writes about Gal and his music with genuine affection and deep insight. Tragically, Leighton, Gal’s junior by almost 30 years, only outlived Gal by a few months (Gal died in 87, Leighton in 88).  Composers are not always the keenest, fairest or most insightful judges of the work of their peers for a variety of reasons .Leighton and Gal would have been two very great fish crowded in a very small pond in Edinburgh- Leighton’s obvious affection, understanding and respect for Gal and his music speaks well of both men as musicians and colleagues.



Kenneth Leighton's obit of Hans Gal.





Conrad Wilson's review of Gal's Schubert Study



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About the author

American conductor, composer and cellist Kenneth Woods is Principal Conductor of the English Symphony Orchestra, Artistic Director of the Colorado MahlerFest and cellist of the string trio Ensemble Epomeo. He records for the Avie, Somm, Nimbus, Signum, MSR and Toccata labels.

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