Producing Excellence: The Making of Virtuosos


Product Details

Rutgers University Press
Publish Date
6.14 X 9.21 X 0.63 inches | 0.01 pounds

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About the Author

IZABELA WAGNER is an associate professor at the University of Warsaw's Institute of Sociology. She is the author of Becoming a Transnational Professional.


"Wagner's Producing Excellence is a first-rate piece of ethnographic observation, a solid work of sociological analysis, and a fascinating story of the complex and at times cruel world that produces the violin virtuosi we read about in the newspapers."--Howard Becker "author of Art Worlds "
"The narrative of the child prodigy bewitches parents, and not just when it comes to music. We're taught that the cost of genius is instability or underdevelopment in other areas, but we rarely hear about the people who finish third through tenth. Also-rans make up the vast majority in every race, but in any field of elite competition the losers have to subject themselves to the same work, same costs, same instability, same underdevelopment, but without the glory or affirmation that come with making it. We like to believe that the winners were that much better or tried that much harder, but the difference between the two is often an arbitrary twist of fate or a powerful person's whim."

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"As several sociologists writing about music worlds, Wagner is herself deeply embedded within the field studied ... She reports with rare intellectual honest the methodological pros and cons deriving from this 'embedded researcher' condition ... Hopefully her book will help in proving artistic careers as a significant research field not only for sociologists of arts and culture, but also of education and work."--Sociologica
"To all those kids out there dreaming of reaching the highest levels of classical music fame, this book whispers be careful what you wish for." 5-star review--Foreword Reviews
"Employing ethnographic evidence that is breathtaking in scope, professor Wagner combines illuminating analysis with compelling and often poignant narrative. Soundly organized and lucidly written, Producing Excellence presents an intimate and insightful view of a fascinating art world."--Paul DiMaggio "A. Barton Hepburn Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs at Princeton University "