5 great books on classical music for Christmas (or any other occasion)
Need an idea for a special musical gift?
I’ve chosen 5 books among the ones I’ve read this year: all of them are around classical music (of course!); what they also have in common is the flowing of the writing and the easiness of the reading. So, whether you want something informative or a novel, take your pick and enjoy!
Language of the Spirit
Opera: Passion, Power and Politics
By KATE BAILEY
Opera is traditionally regarded as an elitist art form far removed from reality by its fantastical plots and melodramatic divas: it’s everything but. Each opera is a product of its own time and draws characters and situations from society and political and historical facts: but most of all it draws on essential human experiences, creating a form of art that can be endlessly reinvented to reflect a changing society. Featuring interviews to prominent stars like tenor Placido Domingo and conductor Antonio Pappano, this book focuses on seven opera premieres in different eras, going from Monteverdi all the way to Shostakovich.
Verdi: the man revealed
When the world stopped to listen
By STUART ISACOFF
This book is a great mix of narrative and history: American pianist Harvey Van Cliburn won the 1958 Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition in Moscow. The competition was to show the superiority of Russia on the United States, but in the middle of the cold war, a young American changed history with an 8 minutes long standing ovation after his performance in the final round of the competition. The judges had to ask for permission to award him the first prize directly to Nikita Chruščёv. In this thrilling book, Isacoff traces not just the career of one of the greatest pianists in history but also the world around him, the political, family and society events that first made him and later destroyed him.