Once upon a time, the work of great musical performers died with them. It is true that, for a few years after the death of these giants, the memories of admirers served to grant these titans a spectral presence. But soon even the most tireless fans also went on to their reward, and nothing remained of their heroes but more or less passing mentions in ephemeral periodicals and dusty histories. It has been argued, not altogether convincingly, that this rule of forgetfulness meant a better time for music, for the presence of the illustrious dead had no power to overshadow the struggling work of living performers. Perhaps more important, it is often suggested that when the work of performers died with them the way was clear for a proper and continuing attention to be given to the music of living composers.

It is hardly a secret that this obligatory sentence of oblivion no longer obtains. Through the miracle of sound recording, the...

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