Books by R.J. Stove

César Franck: His Life and Times

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César Franck: His Life and Times - Robert R.J. Stove - Scarecrow Press

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ISBN: 978-0-8108-8207-2 • Hardback • $39.95
ISBN: 978-0-8108-8208-9 • eBook • $38.99
Publication date: December, 2011
Pages: 368

César Franck (1822–1890), Belgian-born and French-domiciled, was one of the most remarkable composers of the 19th century. A number of his works are commonly recorded — such as his Symphony in D Minor, Symphonic Variations, Violin Sonata, and the ever popular Panis Angelicus — yet 38 years have elapsed since a biography of him, as distinct from a book-length study of specific pieces by him, appeared in English.

Now with César Franck: His Life and Times, R. J. Stove fills this gap in the history of late 19th-century classical music with a full-length study of the man and his output. Drawing on sources never before cited in English, Stove paints a far more detailed picture of this great musician and deeply loved man, whose influence in both his native and his adopted lands was exceptional. Stove carefully delves into intimate matters of Franck’s life, including his resilience in the face of his exploitation as a child prodigy, his development from a shy and harassed piano teacher into one of the most sought-after luminaries of Paris’s Conservatoire, and the truth behind Franck’s alleged affair with one of his students.

Throughout his study, Stove interweaves panoramic surveys of the political and social scene in Belgium and France, contextualizing Franck’s achievements in his historical milieu, from his rise as a recognized master of the organ to his dealings with significant composers such as Liszt, Gounod, Saint-Saëns, Massenet, Chabrier, Mendelssohn, and others. César Franck: His Life and Times is an engagingly written biography sure to interest classical music listeners of all stripes.


R. J. (Robert) Stove, editor of Organ Australia since 2011, is a Melbourne-based organist who has publicly performed several of Franck’s pieces. A member of the Musicological Society of Australia, he is also the author of articles on a variety of musical topics, which have seen publication in Modern Age, The University Bookman, The New Criterion, Musicology Australia, Britain’s Musical Times, and other periodicals.

The Unsleeping Eye: Secret Police and Their Victims

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The terms “Gestapo” and “KGB” have taken on an ominous meaning in every modern language, and the apparatus behind them inspires universal terror. But while many there are many books about espionage, until now very little has been written about the history of secret policing which played such a grim role in the history of totalitarian movements of the 20th century.

Robert J. Stove begins his story of the evolution of secret police into a central institution of modern life with Sir Francis Walsingham, spymaster to Elizabeth I of England who created a network of secret agents and assassins to subvert the Queen’s Catholic opponents. He ends it with a fascinating portrait of J. Edgar Hoover whose surveillance of “enemies within” tested American democracy.

At the heart of The Unsleeping Eye is a provocative narrative about the role of the secret police in the modern totalitarian state. Joseph Fouché, Napoleon’s minister of police, made surveillance and informing into an art form (”Where there are three,” Fouché once said, “I always have one listening”) and coupled this surveillance with propaganda techniques that made it doubly effective. Stove describes the development of domestic surveillance in Russia, from the time of Ivan the Terrible, to its final refinement under Stalin, who brought Lenin’s ideal of “organized terror” to perfection in collaboration with his brutal head of secret police, Lavrenti Beria. (”You bring me the man,” Beria once said chillingly, “and I’ll find you the crime.”) He also shows how the Gestapo and other police organizations led by demented individuals like Heinrich Himmler defined the essence of Nazism, particularly in his deluded notion that “the members of the Gestapo are men with human kindness, human hearts, and absolute rightness.” The inside story of the secret policemen who defined the state of their art, The Unsleeping Eye takes us inside at the darkest corners of government. It is a story filled character and anecdote that leaves us wondering about the brave new worlds of manipulation and terror that may await us.

Also by R.J. Stove

A Student's Guide to Music History

Please order directly from ISI Books.

• Read the table of contents (in PDF)
• Read the first chapter (in PDF)
• Also available online

From ISI Books:

R. J. Stove's A Student’s Guide to Music History is a concise account, written for the intelligent lay reader, of classical music’s development from the early Middle Ages onwards. Beginning with a discussion of Hildegard von Bingen, a twelfth-century German nun and composer, and the origins of plainchant, Stove's narrative recounts the rise (and ever-increasing complexity) of harmony during the medieval world, the differences between secular and sacred music, the glories of the contrapuntal style, and the origins of opera. Stove then relates the achievements of the high baroque period, the very different idioms that prevailed during the late eighteenth century, and the emergence of Romanticism, with its emphasis upon the artist-hero. With the late nineteenth century came a growing emphasis on musical patriotism, writes Stove, especially in Spain, Hungary, Russia, Bohemia, Norway, Denmark, Finland, and the United States. A final section discusses the trends that have characterized music since 1945.

Stove’s guide also singles out eminent composers for special coverage, including Palestrina, Monteverdi, Handel, Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Wagner, Verdi, Brahms, Debussy, Richard Strauss, Sibelius, and Messiaen. As a brief orientation to the history and contours of classical music, A Student’s Guide to Music History is an unparalleled resource.

What They're Saying:

"…This is pithy (135 pages), rollicking, and informative, concentrating on classical music." — Carl Olson, Ignatius Insight
"At less than 140 pages, including a useful bibliography, Stove's book paints in broad but vivid strokes about the Western European art music tradition." — Shepherd Express
"There ought to be a law against it: marketing a book titled Music History, with just 135 pages. …But let me state at this point (for a short book calls for a short review) that to read his volume is a pleasure, not wholly unalloyed.…This book is extremely informative for an untutored student short of spare reading time. Indeed, it is a controversial delight to read." — Fred Blanks, Quadrant
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