Cover Image: Singing Like Germans

Singing Like Germans

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Member Reviews

What a wonderful niche read. As a huge fan of both German, opera and being a black woman, this book scratched the perfect itch for me as a music nerd and history buff.
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Thurman's passion and expertise are evident are "Singing like Germans". The material is fascinating and in-depth, though it is delivered in a very dry, academic way, so it took me a bit to finish the book. I love the inclusion of photographs of the artists, concert programs, newspapers, etc.
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This is a standout book. Thurman brings together musicology, history, critical race theory, and much more in this excellent account of how Black American musicians were treated in Germany and Austria, where many at first thought they had found a new and welcoming home away from the overt racism of the United States. But as Thurman documents, most Black performers in Germany found themselves treated as the Other nonetheless. As Nazism grew, singers like Marion Anderson realized that despite their followers and admirers, they were in grave danger. Thurman focuses on many notable musicians whose stories are important, even if we do not remember them as well as Anderson, and the narrative is clear and elegantly written. This should appeal to a large audience, not just academic readers, and I hope it will be picked up by book clubs and similar reading groups as one of the best works of non-fiction (and musicology) I have read in a very long time.
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This is a book that you can tell had blood, sweat, and tears go into it. It is extremely well-researched and valuable for providing the history that is unknown to many, probably most, in a single book. I think we should all appreciate what Kira Thurman has done with this recordkeeping and I am grateful for the songs and artists it has introduced me to, I even learned a bit about my own history (Cuba), which I was not expecting. My actual rating for this book is 3.5. I didn't rate it higher only because the writing was a bit too academic for me and I think my reading experience would have been more enjoyable if i had more of a fine arts/classical music background. However, I have started to look up recordings of the performances she mentions throughout the book so maybe that will change!
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An absolute must for all moderately sized library collections. I found the subject matter fascinating and learned a great deal about a personal favorite subject.
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