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Face the Music: A Memoir

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In this poignant memoir, the internationally celebrated bandleader reflects on family, illness, grief, and a bygone era of glamour, contemplating not just his career but the history of midcentury music and nightlife--and the enormously important role that the bandstand played in his life. The internationally-famous bandleader Peter Duchin's six decades of performing have t In this poignant memoir, the internationally celebrated bandleader reflects on family, illness, grief, and a bygone era of glamour, contemplating not just his career but the history of midcentury music and nightlife--and the enormously important role that the bandstand played in his life. The internationally-famous bandleader Peter Duchin's six decades of performing have taken him to the most exclusive dance floors and concert halls in the world. He has played for presidents, kings, and queens, as well as for civil rights and cultural organizations. But in 2013, Duchin suffered a stroke that left him with limited use of his left hand, severely impacting his career. Days of recuperating from his stroke--and later from a critical case of Covid-19--inspired Duchin to reconsider his complicated past. His father, the legendary bandleader Eddy Duchin, died when Peter was twelve; his mother, Marjorie Oelrichs Duchin, died when he was just six days old. In the succeeding decades, Duchin would follow his father to become the epitome of mid-20th Century glamour. But it was only half a century later, in the aftermath of his sudden illnesses, that he began to see his mother and father not just as the parents he never had, but as the people he never got to know; and at the same time, to reconsider the milieu in which he has been both a symbol and a participant. More than a memoir, Face the Music offers a window into the era of debutantes and white-tie balls, when such events made national headlines. Duchin explores what "glamour" and "society" once meant, and what they mean now. With sincerity and humor, Face the Music offers a moving portrait of an extraordinary life, its disruptions, and revitalization.


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In this poignant memoir, the internationally celebrated bandleader reflects on family, illness, grief, and a bygone era of glamour, contemplating not just his career but the history of midcentury music and nightlife--and the enormously important role that the bandstand played in his life. The internationally-famous bandleader Peter Duchin's six decades of performing have t In this poignant memoir, the internationally celebrated bandleader reflects on family, illness, grief, and a bygone era of glamour, contemplating not just his career but the history of midcentury music and nightlife--and the enormously important role that the bandstand played in his life. The internationally-famous bandleader Peter Duchin's six decades of performing have taken him to the most exclusive dance floors and concert halls in the world. He has played for presidents, kings, and queens, as well as for civil rights and cultural organizations. But in 2013, Duchin suffered a stroke that left him with limited use of his left hand, severely impacting his career. Days of recuperating from his stroke--and later from a critical case of Covid-19--inspired Duchin to reconsider his complicated past. His father, the legendary bandleader Eddy Duchin, died when Peter was twelve; his mother, Marjorie Oelrichs Duchin, died when he was just six days old. In the succeeding decades, Duchin would follow his father to become the epitome of mid-20th Century glamour. But it was only half a century later, in the aftermath of his sudden illnesses, that he began to see his mother and father not just as the parents he never had, but as the people he never got to know; and at the same time, to reconsider the milieu in which he has been both a symbol and a participant. More than a memoir, Face the Music offers a window into the era of debutantes and white-tie balls, when such events made national headlines. Duchin explores what "glamour" and "society" once meant, and what they mean now. With sincerity and humor, Face the Music offers a moving portrait of an extraordinary life, its disruptions, and revitalization.

30 review for Face the Music: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Morgan

    Son of Eddie Duchin celebrated jazz pianist and band leader of the 1930’s & 40’s Peter Duchin wrote a memoir in 1996 “Ghost of a Chance” which I have not read. I suspect it would have a very different tone to this book which begins with Peter having suffered a stroke. He takes us through his time in hospital, his long recovery and the despondency of not having the use of his left hand – not something a piano player would want to happen. During his recovery he finds himself in a reflective mood and Son of Eddie Duchin celebrated jazz pianist and band leader of the 1930’s & 40’s Peter Duchin wrote a memoir in 1996 “Ghost of a Chance” which I have not read. I suspect it would have a very different tone to this book which begins with Peter having suffered a stroke. He takes us through his time in hospital, his long recovery and the despondency of not having the use of his left hand – not something a piano player would want to happen. During his recovery he finds himself in a reflective mood and delves into long forgotten boxes of photographs and papers. He reflects on his parents which is strange since he was born in 1937 one would expect reflecting on his parents would have happened long before now. Perhaps he did so in his previous book. The majority of the book reflects on night clubs of yesteryear and “Society” none of which was terrible interesting. In the last chapter he discusses his time in hospital ‘Gasping for Air’ due to Covid-19. I suspect his earlier book would have been more to my liking.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kasa Cotugno

    Eddie Duchin's son Peter has come to represent an era that was nearly passed when he started providing dance music for debutante balls and parties. Born into privilege, he became virtually an orphan due to his mother's death when he was only a few days old, and the nature of his father's life as a band leader before succumbing to leukemia at the age of 41. Peter, however, was raised not by family as would be usual in this case, but by Averell and Marie Harriman in castle-like surroundings, and t Eddie Duchin's son Peter has come to represent an era that was nearly passed when he started providing dance music for debutante balls and parties. Born into privilege, he became virtually an orphan due to his mother's death when he was only a few days old, and the nature of his father's life as a band leader before succumbing to leukemia at the age of 41. Peter, however, was raised not by family as would be usual in this case, but by Averell and Marie Harriman in castle-like surroundings, and thus counted as his friends many well-known people such as Jimmy Stewart, George Plimpton, and Peter Beard and many others, defined as "good friends." Not a memoir in the usual sense, this book begins with a hilarious, embarrassing account of his first venture outside after suffering a stroke in 2013. Weaving between past and future, Duchin tells his story, featuring his quest post-stroke of trying to learn the lives of his parents and of them as flesh and blood, their personalities and influences, since he knew them only as two-dimensional black and white images. But beyond the parties and social experiences, he gives possibly the most graphic account of his experience with Covid-19, suffering 46 days of intubation. He's had a full life, but more than just a charming sophisticate at a piano, he has a big heart, finding gratification in charitable endeavors. Some lovely photographs accompany the text -- this is a stunning, generous sharing of a life.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Natalie

    I read Peter Duchin’s earlier memoir, GHOST OF A CHANCE, and enjoyed it as both a personal story and a social history. The son of Eddy Duchin, Peter has lived a life that touched so many important, historical giants, of the past years. I felt this was an opportunity to catch up on the events of the last years and recall the stories I found so fascinating. It did not disappoint. Sadly, Duchin has careened from health crisis to health crisis, not even being spared a bout with Covid. He has used th I read Peter Duchin’s earlier memoir, GHOST OF A CHANCE, and enjoyed it as both a personal story and a social history. The son of Eddy Duchin, Peter has lived a life that touched so many important, historical giants, of the past years. I felt this was an opportunity to catch up on the events of the last years and recall the stories I found so fascinating. It did not disappoint. Sadly, Duchin has careened from health crisis to health crisis, not even being spared a bout with Covid. He has used the time to delve into the lives of his parents. His mother died within days after his birth, while his father was aloof and largely absent. Though the earlier book had more depth in exploring the lives of others, this memoir was more personal and compelling. As a New Yorker I have seen his name associated with every major society event during the last 50 years. I truly enjoyed this opportunity to revisit the life of Peter Duchin. I plan to reread both his earlier memoir and that of his former wife, who is absent from this piece. Thank you Netgalley for this opportunity. I truly enjoyed this.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Glae R. Egoville

    A Musical Hero I had a huge crush on Peter Duchin as a teenager. Whenever he appeared on television I made sure I watched. Peter Duchin is simp!y timeless. He is also a world class,well bred gentleman of the old school variety. And isn't that lovely? This book is a beautiful tribute to his musical life, his socialites upbringing and his recovery from two terrible episodes. Good breeding ( even alluding to such a thing) is unheard of in today's world and men like Peter Duchin are forced to be like A Musical Hero I had a huge crush on Peter Duchin as a teenager. Whenever he appeared on television I made sure I watched. Peter Duchin is simp!y timeless. He is also a world class,well bred gentleman of the old school variety. And isn't that lovely? This book is a beautiful tribute to his musical life, his socialites upbringing and his recovery from two terrible episodes. Good breeding ( even alluding to such a thing) is unheard of in today's world and men like Peter Duchin are forced to be like everybody else. What a pity, because men need the elegance and decency that Mr. Duchin embodies. Good luck and God Speed in your recovery and Thank you for decades of beautiful music.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sherrie Howey

    Peter Duchin never knew his mother as she died shortly after fiving birth to him. His father, a well known band leader was always on the road and died when Peter was 12. Peter grew up to be a legendary band leader playing at debutante balls and well known society events for years. He suffered a devastating stroke and his honesty about all that he endured and his recovery was quite moving. It was very interesting to read about the inception of all of the famous clubs in New York and his thoughts Peter Duchin never knew his mother as she died shortly after fiving birth to him. His father, a well known band leader was always on the road and died when Peter was 12. Peter grew up to be a legendary band leader playing at debutante balls and well known society events for years. He suffered a devastating stroke and his honesty about all that he endured and his recovery was quite moving. It was very interesting to read about the inception of all of the famous clubs in New York and his thoughts on these clubs. In 2020, he developed a very bad case of COVID and his likelihood of survival was touch and go for quite some time. I really enjoyed this touching memoir which involved his personal journey as well as a look at the ever evolving social scene.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sheila Eddings

    Very interesting book as the writer suffers a stroke and a serious bout with Covid and shares how each affected his search for who his parents really were. He is the son of Eddy Duchin, famous bandleader and pianist and is a famous bandleader and jazz pianist himself. His father’s career kept him absent a great deal of the time and his mother died when he was very young so while he knew who they were, he didn’t know them. So many connections with Vanderbilt book I read previously by Anderson Coo Very interesting book as the writer suffers a stroke and a serious bout with Covid and shares how each affected his search for who his parents really were. He is the son of Eddy Duchin, famous bandleader and pianist and is a famous bandleader and jazz pianist himself. His father’s career kept him absent a great deal of the time and his mother died when he was very young so while he knew who they were, he didn’t know them. So many connections with Vanderbilt book I read previously by Anderson Cooper. The book describes a world of live music and Society that has largely disappeared and the pros and cons of that. And yet it’s a personal story with many revelations and insights. Enjoyed it and learned about an era I didn’t know that much about. Highly recommend.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Rhonda Lomazow

    Peter Duchin has written a memoir that shares with us his life today the illnesses he suffers from a stroke to COVID.He has recovered and enjoying life again.Peter Duchin at one point was the toast of the town the society bandleader.He was friends with everyone from Jackie Onassis ,Audrey Hepburn who he actually on a date with.to Pat Buckley who when New York high society really glittered the parties such as Truman Capotes blackcaps and White Ball and of course he was the bandleader.This was a d Peter Duchin has written a memoir that shares with us his life today the illnesses he suffers from a stroke to COVID.He has recovered and enjoying life again.Peter Duchin at one point was the toast of the town the society bandleader.He was friends with everyone from Jackie Onassis ,Audrey Hepburn who he actually on a date with.to Pat Buckley who when New York high society really glittered the parties such as Truman Capotes blackcaps and White Ball and of course he was the bandleader.This was a dished read Peter Duchin was friends with everyone was at all high society events.I found his memoir so I teresting so many famous names so many interesting storie I really enjoyed from beginning to end.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Bill McKinlay

    I devoured this book. It’s a touching read in which Duchin reflects on his life and career, his parents, and his struggles with a stroke in 2013 and his 2020 fight against COVID. I found the comment from his band mates that he’s playing better now with just one hand insightful. Pianists left hands are always getting in the way of the guitarist and especially the bass player. I know, I play bass and always hate it when the pianist can’t stay out of my way. Let’s hope Duchin has quite a few health I devoured this book. It’s a touching read in which Duchin reflects on his life and career, his parents, and his struggles with a stroke in 2013 and his 2020 fight against COVID. I found the comment from his band mates that he’s playing better now with just one hand insightful. Pianists left hands are always getting in the way of the guitarist and especially the bass player. I know, I play bass and always hate it when the pianist can’t stay out of my way. Let’s hope Duchin has quite a few healthy years ahead of him.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    This was a nice, quick read. I knew absolutely nothing about Peter Duchin, nor the tragedy of his parents' early deaths, so it was all new. He has a great sense of humor and it was enjoyable to learn about his life. This was a nice, quick read. I knew absolutely nothing about Peter Duchin, nor the tragedy of his parents' early deaths, so it was all new. He has a great sense of humor and it was enjoyable to learn about his life.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sheila

    I received an advance copy of, Face the Music by, Peter Duchin and Patricia Beard. I have never heard of Peter Duchin before, he seemed to live a great life until his stroke. I though Peter was a self centered, I did not care for him.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Barred Owl Books

    Who doesn't love reading about old Hollywood and the parties! A beautiful memoir! Who doesn't love reading about old Hollywood and the parties! A beautiful memoir!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Judy Gacek

    I if you like to read about the night clubs of years past and what was considered society this is the book for you. If you are not interested in those topics skip it.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Judith

    I was unaware that Mr. Duchin wrote a follow up to his superb autobiography "Ghost of a Chance"; looking forward to tracking this book down and getting an update on his life since the publication of the first autobiography. Upon completing "Face the Music: A Memoir" I can most definitely recommend it on many levels -the continuance of Mr. Duchin's autobiography, really fascinating stories about places he has been and people that he has known. His account of experiencing a stroke and going through I was unaware that Mr. Duchin wrote a follow up to his superb autobiography "Ghost of a Chance"; looking forward to tracking this book down and getting an update on his life since the publication of the first autobiography. Upon completing "Face the Music: A Memoir" I can most definitely recommend it on many levels -the continuance of Mr. Duchin's autobiography, really fascinating stories about places he has been and people that he has known. His account of experiencing a stroke and going through physical therapy are valuable as is his account of having COVID early in 2020, then recovering from it. Both autobiographies - "Ghost of a Chance" and "Face the Music: A Memoir" are terrific, great reading.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Julie

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ron Frampton

  16. 5 out of 5

    Tiantian

  17. 5 out of 5

    Robin L. Rosenberg

  18. 4 out of 5

    Martha Birnbaum

  19. 4 out of 5

    Melanie Peterson

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mary

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

  22. 5 out of 5

    Susan

  23. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

  24. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Milliken

  25. 5 out of 5

    Madelin Foster

  26. 5 out of 5

    Vapafe

  27. 5 out of 5

    Doubleday Books

  28. 4 out of 5

    Wendy

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lee

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