When life gets me down, I open up Nicolas Slonimsky’s Music Since 1900, a day-by-day chronology of what Leonard Bernstein once called the “century of death.” What I like most about this book are the brief descriptive entries for hugely obscure operas that somehow caught the compiler’s eye. For example, “25 September 1929: The Woman Who Laughed at Faery, fantastic opera in one act by the 55-year-old English composer Fritz HART, is produced in Melbourne, Australia.” I'm scared to know what happened to that woman.
I once had the honor of interviewing Slonimsky for my college radio show, which was called, not coincidentally, "Music Since 1900." He talked about giving piano lessons to the Tsar's nieces and walking around Petrograd on the day of the Revolution. Some years later, he did a solo at a Zappa show.