Category: Musical Fiction | Non-Fiction

Spotlight on Music & Compositions | The Six Suites for ‘Cello Solo: Volume 4: From Tragedy to Transcendance by Steven Hancoff

Posted Thursday, 3 December, 2015 by jorielov , , , 3 Comments

Spotlight on Music banner made by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired CD set By: I was selected to be a part of the blog tour for “Bach, Casals & The Six Suites for ‘Cello Solo: Volumes 1-4” hosted by iRead Book Tours. I received a complimentary copy of the CD set Volume 4: From Tragedy to Transcendence direct from the author Steven Hancoff without obligation to post a review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Why my interest was piqued with this collection:

I have a secret in my closet. A secret instrument to be exact! When I was six and twenty I made the bold choice to purchase a wicked stellar electric guitar – it’s in a lovely deep crimson red colour and has a lovely strap that is super comfy against my shoulder. I have an equally delightful amp that has yet to emerge out of it’s box! What pray tell would prevent me from picking up said guitar and amp whilst curating my own musical styling? Apparently the absence of an open-minded community for left-handed guitar players! No. Seriously. I couldn’t find one instructor who would teach me to play whilst accepting the fact I play left-handedly despite the fact I’m predominately right-handed. Clearly my community is overlooking the obvious: left-handers rock the music world! (i.e. I loved watching Josey Scott playing alongside Chad Kroeger for “Hero”; wave your hands fellow Spider-Man fans of the films with Tobey Maguire!) This guide to left-handed musicians should be passed out in pamphlets round here!

This curious fact stems out of my dyslexic past and a sombering story of pre-school choices – none of which is relevant except to say I also play baseball left-handed! Yes, you read that right *baseball!* not softball! I digress. I’ve been an appreciator of classical music and classical compositions since I was quite young as I cut my teeth on Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Tchaikovsky (clearly my passion for the 1812 Overture was a precursor to a life-long passion for devouring war dramas?) – whilst appreciating contemporary symphonies and orchestras. I loved attending musical concerts and developed a passion for soundcapes lateron as I developed my writing style, as I found the evocations of ambient and trance electronica created this ethereal creative well of inspiration. One of my favourite outlets for these soundscapes is Hearts Of Space, whose programmes are a feast of a writerly soul! Originally I listened to them on the radio until their station dissolved and I re-found them online in 2014! If you can find music that allows your mind the ability to relax into your creative synergy, it’s something to hold onto as creativity is quite obtuse at the best of times!

Although being an electric guitar owner goes a bit against the principles of acoustic guitar sessions (as the whole point is to be ‘unplugged’ rather than ‘plugged’ in) — I must admit, I like finding ways to bridge gaps and musical styles; including finding a balance of pause between electric and acoustic techniques. Rebel musicians like David Garrett (info on the album I own of his via Wikipedia) truly inspire me, as who knew you could emote such a wicked sweet sound out of a violin, such as he? I’d love to learn classical guitar techniques prior to cutting into a vein of style that befits my eclectic personality as I am duly passionate about classical opera as much as the rock operas of Broadway musicals! I am happily eclectic by musicality too, as my heart thunders into a rhythm of joy whilst I listen to Indie artists (especially the kind found on CDbaby!) whose vibes are their own niche of musical revolution. I can take-on quite a heap of music and find the beauty of all of it – combined or singularly separate. Even the decades of the past are a vortex of inspiration as I can hunker down inside the early 20th Century alongside Cole Porter, Bing Crosby, Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, and the legends of Jazz.

Swinging back into the classics for a moment, there is something quite tangible about the music of Bach’s generation – it’s not only dimensional, it’s thought-provoking. It’s invigorating but it’s emotionally connecting to you on a level only music can penetrate. Rather than focus solely on the musical notes and experiences of listening to this collection on CD – I wanted to step inside the booklet itself, and relate to you what I found about about Bach directly!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

A notation on the Cover Art: Being a visual artist who wants to take up sketching and illustration in the future, I couldn’t help but notice the beautiful etchings of the drawings being featured as the cover art design. It’s such a creative way to tell a short story about how man and music can blend together to create a harmony of a new class of dimension that it’s hard to see where man begins and music ends or rather, how the circle is so finite and conjoined the two become entwined. The sketching also focuses on the ‘fundamentals’ of the human form, and thus, seemed to tip the nod to working on the fundamentals of the crafting of musicality. To encourage practice out of the pleasure of developing the ear for what music can give you as much as what you can give back to the process.

The Six Suites for ‘Cello Solo Series:

The Six Suites for 'Cello Solo (J. Sebastian Bach) For Acoustic Guitar Vol. 1: The Life of JS Bach by Steven HancoffThe Six Suites for 'Cello Solo (J. Sebastian Bach) For Acoustic Guitar Vol. 2: The Legacy of JS Bach by Steven HancoffThe Six Suites for 'Cello Solo (J. Sebastian Bach) For Acoustic Guitar Vol. 3: Pablo Casals and the Six Suites by Steven Hancoff

Spotlight on Music & Compositions | The Six Suites for ‘Cello Solo: Volume 4: From Tragedy to Transcendance by Steven HancoffThe Six Suites for 'Cello Solor: Volume 4: From Tragedy to Transcendance
Subtitle: J. Sebastian Bach | For Acoustic Guitar
by Steven Hancoff
Source: Author via iRead Book Tours

FROM TRAGEDY TO TRANSCENDENCE

ENTER THE CREATIVE WORLD OF J.S. BACH IN INTERNATIONALLY RENOWNED GUITARIST STEVEN HANCOFF’S GROUNDBREAKING FOUR-VOLUME E-BOOK: BACH, CASALS AND THE SIX SUITES FOR ’CELLO SOLO

A Totally Immersive Multimedia Experience. Richly Detailed Text Embedded with More Than 1,000 Illustrations Illuminating Bach’s Masterpiece, from Its Creation to Its Legacy. Bach, Casals and the Six Suites for ’Cello Solo and 3-CD set Audio Recording of ’Cello Suites to be Released June 23rd

Exclusively on iTunes and CD Baby

Includes Hancoff’s Complete Recording Of His Acoustic Guitar Transcription of Bach’s ’Cello Suites

From tragedy to transcendence is the theme that embodies the essence of the life and work of Johann Sebastian Bach. “This man, ‘the miracle of Bach,’ as Pablo Casals once put it, led a life of unfathomable creativity and giftedness on the one hand and neglect and immense tragedy on the other,” says Hancoff.

Bach’s life was rife with hardship and tragedy from the start. By the time he was nine years old, he had witnessed the deaths of three siblings and then, within a year, his father and mother also passed away.

For all his education and talent, however, his first job was serving as a lackey for a drunkard duke. Subsequently, he spent the next fifteen years in the employ of Weimar’s harshly ascetic Duke Wilhelm Ernst, who cared little for music. When he was twenty-two, he married the love of his live, his distant cousin, Maria Barbara Bach. During the thirteen years they were married, she bore him seven children, three of whom died at birth.

In 1717, Prince Leopold of Cöthen offered Bach a position as the musical director for Cöthen. Bach jumped at the chance. The officials of Weimar, however, threw him in jail for “the crime” of daring to resign his present position. Still, Bach was on the verge of a career breakthrough.

Three years into his happy and contented tenure in Cothen, Prince Leopold and Bach visited the spa town of Carlsbad for a month of vacationing and music-making. Unfortunately, upon his return Bach learned of the death of his wife and then only when he entered into his home. Imagine the shock, the impact. He never even discovered the cause of death.

Yet this tragic setback in Bach’s life was a major turning point because he came to grips with his personal tragedy by unleashing a flood of masterpieces for which he is and will be forever revered. First came the Six Violin Sonatas and Partitas for Violin Solo and then the Six Suites for ’Cello Solo.

In the ’Cello Suites we hear Bach expressing his own seeking, yearning, love, loss, sorrow, grief and determination and their overtones of surrender, resolution affirmation and transcendence. He aspired to articulate an ultimate personal confession, a revelation, entirely unique, entirely sublime, as an ultimate act of artistic and creative testimony, a heavenly statement about his own life and even of life itself—as a final gift and an enduring, heavenly send-off for his beloved wife.

Bach, Casals and the Six Suites for ’Cello Solo invites readers and music lovers into a unique experience, contained in an immersive four-volume e-book from Steven Hancoff – a virtuoso musician’s restless, passionate, multimedia exploration of a musical masterpiece that only grows in stature almost three centuries after it was written.

The many fascinating and inspiring aspects of the book include:

• How Bach struggled and overcame adversity and the lessons his example offer us today.

• The ultimate meaning of the Six Suites for ’Cello.

• How almost all of Bach’s works would have nearly sunk into oblivion were it not for the extraordinary efforts of Sara Levy, the great aunt of Felix Mendelssohn, to rescue them.

• How Felix Mendelssohn singlehandedly created with the performance of the St. Matthew Passion a Bach renaissance and a legacy that continues to be enjoyed to the present day.

• The miraculous discovery of the six ’Cello Suites by Pablo Casals in a Barcelona thrift shop and why he studied them for twelve years before performing them in public.

• What Pablo Casals meant when he spoke of “the miracle of Bach.” Bach, Casals and the Six Suites for ’Cello Solo promises to be an adventure for anyone fascinated by the enduring power of music, art and why they matter.

Places to find the book:

Genres: Classical Music, Music for the Guitar, Music History, Non-Fiction


Published by Out of Time Music Co.

on June 2015

Format: CD | MP3 | disc or set

Converse via: #JohannSebastianBach + #cello + #classicalmusic

About Steven Hancoff

Steven Hancoff

Steve Hancoff began playing guitar when he was 13 years old, captivated by the folk music craze of the 1960s. Within a year he was performing in coffeehouses around Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

For nearly 15 years, he toured the world—about 50 countries—as an official Artistic Ambassador representing the United States of America. His recordings include Steel String Guitar, New Orleans Guitar Solos, Duke Ellington for Solo Guitar, and The Single Petal of A Rose. He is also the author of Acoustic Masters: Duke Ellington for Fingerstyle Guitar and New Orleans Jazz for Fingerstyle Guitar. He is a graduate of St. John’s College, home of the “100 Great Books of the Western World” program and has a Masters degree in clinical social work. He is a psychotherapist, a Rolfer, and a practitioner of Tai Chi. An avid hiker, he is also a member of the Grand Canyon River Guides Associations.

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Posted Thursday, 3 December, 2015 by jorielov in Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Bookish Discussions, Classical Music | Composers, iRead Book Tours, Music History, Musical Fiction | Non-Fiction, Non-Fiction

Book Review | “A Woman of Note” by Carol M. Cram

Posted Thursday, 15 October, 2015 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin.

Acquired Book By: I am becoming a regular tour hostess and reviewer for BookSparks, as I began to host for them in the Spring ahead of #SRC2015. I am posting my Summer Challenge reviews during October and November due to the aftereffects of severe lightning storms during July and August. As I make amends for the challenge reads I was unable to post until Autumn; I am also catching up with my YA challenge reads and the blog tours I missed as well. This blog tour marks one of the books I felt curious to read independent of the previous selections. I look forward to continuing to work with BookSparks once I am fully current with the stories I am reading for review.

I received a complimentary copy of “A Woman of Note” direct from the publicist at BookSparks in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Why this title stood out to me to read:

I personally grew up listening to classical music – either by vinyl records my family had collected or live in person at symphonies and musical concerts. I was instantly drawn to the verbosity of the classical composers and the emotionally keen insight their chords of choice drew out of their compositions. There is an eloquence and a hidden language to classical music – it’s so very evoking of thought and feeling it’s hard to listen to a piece and not become moved by the experience.

I’ve had my eye on Indie Writers for awhile now, and being a book blogger I try to seek out hosting an independently published author whenever a chance presents itself. I must admit, I was a bit surprised Lake Union Publishing is attached to a particular online giant, but it’s the stories the authors are telling which has given me the chance to celebrate their novels. For this reason, I am thankful I found Catherine Ryan Hyde’s The Language of Hoofbeats about a blended family of at-risk foster children who find a safe haven after placement and adoption. (review) And, quite surprised to find the heart-warming historical tale of The Shepherdess of Siena by Linda Lafferty where I was caught up inside a beautiful horse drama. (review) Sometimes the best stories are the ones which unexpected alight in your hands to read!

And, yet this isn’t my first musical fiction story I’ve ruminated about as I have started to find a secret niche of stories emerging of late where music is centered into the heart of the novel. Imagine my joy in being able to travel through the different centuries and imaginations of the writers who are bringing music into a literary showcase?

You can happily view my other thoughts on behalf of the following stories, where I reveal a few more tidbits about my own appreciation and passion for the musical arts:

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Note on the Cover Art: I felt the portrait of Isabette on the cover was quite a clever one to be showcased because it showed her passion for her artistry. It has a very touching simplicity to it and reflects well the century in which the story is taking place. I liked the little details of the rose on her dress to the crimson colour of her outfit to the bracelets she’s wearing. It gives a small impression of the character’s personality whilst clearing stating how keenly important music was to her as it was her soul’s passion.

Book Review | “A Woman of Note” by Carol M. CramA Woman of Note
by Carol M. Cram
Source: Publicist via BookSparks

Virtuoso pianist Isabette Grüber captivates audiences in the salons and concert halls of early nineteenth-century Vienna. Yet in a profession dominated by men, Isabette longs to compose and play her own music—a secret she keeps from both her lascivious manager and her resentful mother. She meets and loves Amelia Mason, a dazzling American singer with her own secrets, and Josef Hauser, an ambitious young composer. But even they cannot fully comprehend the depths of Isabette’s talent.

Her ambitions come with a price when Isabette embarks on a journey that delicately walks the line between duty and passion. Amid heartbreak and sacrifice, music remains her one constant. With cameos from classical music figures such as Chopin, Schubert, and Berlioz, A Woman of Note is an intricately crafted and fascinating tale about one woman’s struggle to find her soul’s song in a dissonant world.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781503946835

Also by this author: Author Q&A with Carol M. Cram

Genres: Historical Fiction, Musical Fiction, Women's Fiction


Published by Lake Union Publishing

on 8th September 2015

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 358

Published By: Lake Union Publishing
Available Formats: Paperback, Audiobook, and Ebook

About Carol M. Cram

Carol M. Cram

Before her debut as a critically acclaimed author of historical fiction, Carol M. Cram wrote dozens of bestselling college textbooks for courses in computer applications and communications. She served on the faculty at Capilano University in North Vancouver, Canada, for more than two decades and facilitated workshops for corporate and government clients in her role as vice president of Clear Communication Consultants. Carol holds a master’s degree in drama from the University of Toronto and a master’s degree in business administration from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. She lives on Bowen Island near Vancouver, British Columbia, with her husband, painter Gregg Simpson.

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Posted Thursday, 15 October, 2015 by jorielov in 19th Century, Austria, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, BookSparks, Coming-Of Age, Composer, Historical Fiction, Indie Author, Mental Health, Mother-Daughter Relationships, Musical Fiction | Non-Fiction, Psychiatric Facilities, Vulgarity in Literature, Women's Fiction

Blog Book Tour | “Last Night at the Blue Angel” by Rebecca Rotert

Posted Thursday, 30 April, 2015 by jorielov , , , , 3 Comments

Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin.

Acquired Book By:

I was selected to be a tour stop on “Last Night at the Blue Angel” virtual book tour through TLC Book Tours. I received a complimentary copy of the book direct from the publisher William Morrow (an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers), in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein. 

A Note on the Cover Art Design:

I can honestly say that this is one time where I prefer the cover art design on the first edition rather than the P.S. Edition, as you will see via the SoundCloud Novel Excerpt and the After Story feature below the review, the original design I felt befit the story much better than this new version which only sought to confuse me when I first received the book. You have to look at it from afar if you can even hope to understand what the image is representing whereas the original design had the elements of the synopsis held within the gaze. The colour hues of the original fit better to as far as atmosphere of the kind of story your about to read.

Blog Book Tour | “Last Night at the Blue Angel” by Rebecca RotertLast Night at the Blue Angel
by Rebecca Rotert
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours

Set against the turbulence of 1960s Chicago—a city in transformation—and its legendary jazz scene, Last Night at the Blue Angel is a lush and immensely heartfelt mother-daughter tale about a talented but troubled singer’s relationship with her precocious ten-year-old daughter.

 It is the early 1960s, and Chicago is teeming with the tensions of the day—segregation, sexual experimentation, the Cold War and Vietnam—but it is also home to some of the country’s most influential jazz. Naomi Hill, a singer at the Blue Angel club, has been poised on the brink of stardom for nearly ten years. But when her big break, the cover of Look magazine, finally arrives, it carries with it an enormous personal cost. Sensual and magnetic, Naomi is a fiercely ambitious yet self-destructive woman whose charms tend to hurt those around her, and no one knows this better than her daughter, Sophia.

As the only child of a single mother growing up in an adult world, Sophia is wise beyond her years, a casualty of her mother’s desperate struggle for fame and adoration. Unsettled by her home life, she harbors a terrible fear that her world could disappear at any moment, and compulsively maintains a list of everyday objects she might need to reinvent should nuclear catastrophe strike. Her only constant is the colorful and unconventional family that surrounds her and her mother, particularly the photographer, Jim, who is Sophia’s best friend, surrogate father, and protector—but Jim is also deeply in love with Naomi.

Weaving between the perspectives of Sophia and Naomi, Last Night at the Blue Angel is a poignant and unforgettable story about what happens when our passion for the life we want is at sharp odds with the life we have. Part stylish period piece, part heartbreaking family drama, it’s a novel rife with revelations, a vivid and propulsive page-turner—and the major debut of an extraordinary new writer.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Genres: Literary Fiction


Published by William Morrow

on 14th April, 2015

Format: Paperback

Pages: 352

Published By: William Morrow (@WmMorrowBks),
an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers (@HarperCollins)
Available Formats: Hardback, P.S. Edition paperback, Audiobook and Ebook

Converse via: #LastNightAtTheBlueAngel

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com
Listen to an Excerpt of the Novel:

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

About Rebecca Rotert

Rebecca Rotert received an M.A. in literature from Hollins College, where she was the recipient of the Academy of American Poets prize. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times and other publications. She's also an experienced singer and songwriter, who has performed with several bands, and a teacher with the Nebraska Writers Collective. She lives in Omaha, Nebraska. This is her first novel.

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Posted Thursday, 30 April, 2015 by jorielov in 20th Century, Audiobook, Audiobook Excerpt, Based on an Actual Event &/or Court Case, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Chicago, Debut Author, Debut Novel, Equality In Literature, Family Drama, Family Life, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, History, Jazz Musicians, Jazz Singers, LGBTTQPlus Fiction | Non-Fiction, Literary Fiction, Local Libraries | Research Libraries, Mother-Daughter Relationships, Musical Fiction | Non-Fiction, Nun, Photography, Political Narrative & Modern Topics, Realistic Fiction, Soundcloud, The Sixties, TLC Book Tours