My plan was to write about my autobiography, “Diary of a Young Musician, Final Days of the Big Band Era (felixmayerhofer.com).” But it occurred to me that my reviews for “Diary” could do a better job than I. Before I paste in the two reviews, I’d like to say the book also received a rating of “Highly recommended” by reputable Midwest Book Review.
Professional reporter Masha Rumer’s description and critique of the story in a newspaper article hit a home run. I almost went out and bought the book after I read it. The second reviewer, author Marilyn Dalrymple, defined the story in an emotional and warm manner that gave “Diary of a Young Musician credence. All the other reviews were just as deserving, but I felt these two were more appropriate for this blog.
The reviews below are from the Book Section of Amazon.com.
Masha Rumer-reporter for Westmore News, Port Chester, NY.
Review of: Diary of a Young Musician
Little did a Port Chester-born and reared Felix Mayerhofer know when he picked up his trombone and accepted the full scholarship at Julliard in New York City back in 1948 that his life direction would change forever.
This short journey from his home at 21 Bent Ave. on the New Haven line was to be the end of innocence of an 18-year-old boy as he embarked on the 13-year road of a traveling musician, encountering cruelty, poverty, fame, women, drugs, and the thrill of the Big Band era.
Expect to find a moving personal story, a portrait of America, humor, and unscrupulous honesty in Mayerhofer’s memoir Diary of a Young Musician, published by Fideli Publishing in 2009.
The writing is brutally honest–and that’s the way it was intended, as a father’s revealing portrait to his son David, who was now old enough to accept the real story. Mayerhofer spares no detail when he describes his manifold experiences with the opposite sex, his brief run-ins with marijuana, amphetamines and alcohol, segregation in the South in the 1950s, the challenging life on the road, his mother’s nagging to “get a real job” and Port Chester girls’ dismissive attitude toward young musicians.
Mayerhofer, whose Uncle Peter helped build Corpus Christi Church in Port Chester and became its first pastor, also tells the sad tales of loss, as many of his band mates get hooked on heroin and die before they reach 25. The reader even gets a glimpse into the author’s occasional bouts of illness; he describes the physiological details in an un-Victorian, honest fashion.
The world of Mayerhofer’s youth is different: blue suede shoes are in high fashion–he owns a pair, one can buy a cup of coffee and a hot dog for 20 cents on the streets of New York, and “crazy man,” meaning terrific, is a cool expression.
But throughout the tales of debauchery–a hard thing to avoid in the profession at the time, and pursuit of work all over the world, Mayerhofer emerges as a sensitive, disciplined man who has the strong will and fortitude to conquer his demons and lead an extraordinary life. He has met Louis Armstrong and played with Nat King Cole, served with the 552 Air Force Band during the Korean War, earned a B.A. from SUNY Potsdam and an M.A. from Asuza State University in California, and directed a junior high school band in Palmdale, Calif. until he retired.
Perhaps one of the most touching aspects of the book is Mayerhofer’s meeting of his wife Shirley, nee Wagner (Wagonseller), a beautiful show dancer and ballerina. Before he turned 30, Mayerhofer was a professed bachelor and claims to have not had more than three dates with the same girl. But when he meets Shirley, he is suddenly smitten, falls in love after their first kiss, and the two marry within months.
Mayerhofer played in the Port Chester High School Band, under the tutelage of Paul Weckesser. Nearly 30 years later, he returned there to teach band for six weeks while on vacation from touring with Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians.
Note: Masha Rumer is a reputable free-lance writer in San Francisco, where she also teaches at the Academy of Art.
Marilyn Dalrymple “Maling” (Lancaster, CA United States)
This review is from: Diary of a Young Musician
The book is personal, genuine and warm. I got to know the musician through reading the book, and I like who he is and what he is about. Diary of a Young Musician is in fact a diary. Mayerhofer tells his life as a young musician truthfully and intimately. It was hard for me to put the book down after I began to read it.
This book could easily serve as a must-read primer for eager young musicians and young people in general. Mayerhofer shares his wisdom about life and living in an entertaining way.
CREDITS: It’s Tough Growing Up: Children’s Stories of Courage
Marilyn Dalrymple and Joan Foor