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::Falling From Grace:Review by Henry Doktorski ::

Falling From Grace is a collection/smattering of Dr. William Schimmel's writings,press releases, drawings, reviews and music scores. This book is a visual/literary version of his music: eclectic, spontaneous, completely devoid of pretense,
sometimes serious -- sometimes funny and informal. It is unique in several ways:

There is no binding and no cover. The loose-leaf pages are photocopied (one side only) onto colored paper which conveniently divides the book into six sections: orange, pink, white, green, yellow and blue, which, curiously enough, seem to have nothing to do with the content. The entire assembly is packed into a clear heavy-duty plastic bag with the title hand-printed with black magic marking pen.

A good portion of the book consists of Schimmel's drawings: bold, quick strokes which are sometimes immediately recognizable and sometimes not.

One short two-page music score appears in the blue section, titled simply A Polka (which I assume was written by Schimmel). The text, which seems to be taken from a children's nursery rhyme, is: LIBERRY LIE, STICK YOUR FINGER IN YOUR EYE.

Some of the sections are titled:

Schimmel Elgin -- A Design Proposal
The Neupauer Conservatory of Music (where Schimmel studied as a boy)
The ChristDentist (childhood reminiscences)
Four Short Essays:
1. Paul Creston and the "Art of Faking"
2. The Tradition of Non-Tradition
3. On Playing Paul Hindemith's Kammermusik No.1
4. On Playing Kurt Weill on the Accordion
Port of Authority -- At the Port of Authority
Why Can't Leonard Bernstein Put an Accordion Section in the New York City Symphathy!? [sic.]
The Philadelphia Accordion Orchestra
The Needleman -- A Play
Four Calls -- A Short Story
Schubert and Re-Cycling -- An Essay
Essay on Style
How NOT to Conduct and Accordion Orchestra

I found this book enjoyable; it sheds a fascinating glimpse into the personal life of one of America's greatest accordionists.
Sometimes the stories are serious, as in Schimmel's story about the death of his next door neighbor, Mr. Emper, and subsequent service as an altar boy at the funeral.

Sometimes the stories are hilarious, as in "Mr. Needleman," a dramatized story about little Billy Schimmel's close encounter with Dr. Back. I laughed and laughed. In fact, I'd like to perform this little musical play myself!

Not everyone will like this book, just as not everyone likes Schimmel's music. Some time ago I received one letter from an accordionist who purchased Falling From Grace sight unseen by mail-order; he absolutely hated it and considered it a total waste of money.

I, however, found this "book" stimulating reading and entertaining also. I have my own criticisms: there are several redundant sections of the book; some information (especially press releases and Schimmel's artist biographies) is repeated more than is necessary and while reading I found myself skipping over sections that I had seen before.

Never-the-less, I believe that this book will be treasured by avant garde accordion aficionados.

by Henry Doktorski

 

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