Reading Recommendations by ACMP Members 2019

Associated Chamber Music Players’ bookworms submitted a collection of music-themed summer reads. Fiction, nonfiction, memoirs and guides populate this internationally-assembled compilation.

Available where books are sold!


Life by Keith Richards (Little, Brown and Company -(US), Weidenfeld & Nicolson – (UK), 2010) 

The memoir gives lots of great background on some of the Rolling Stones’ most famous recordings, as well as plenty of anecdotes about “The Good Old Days.” Terrific background about some of America’s most important R&B musicians, too. While Richards can seem self-absorbed at time, his ability to seemingly bury the hatchet makes him a likeable fellow.

Recommendation by Leila Zogby






The Soloist by Steve Lopez (Putnam Adult, 2008)

A true story about a talented musician with severe mental illness, once a Juilliard student, and how music gave meaning to his life but not a cure. (A New York Times bestseller book that was made into a movie.)

Recommendation by Moreen Libet






Making Music for the Joy of It by Stephanie Judy (Tarcher, 1990)

Just what it says — a wide-ranging commentary on playing as an AMATEUR, with lots of illustrations/cartoons, advice, and quotes (including 4 by me).
It’s currently out of print but available on Amazon.

Recommendation by Jane Wilson






Beethoven for a Later Age by Edward Dunnisberre ( Faber & Faber, 2016)

By 1st vln on Takacs Quartet about quartet, Beethoven (music history), performance and interpersonal issues. A riff on many topics, hard to summarize but interesting.

Recommendation by Judy tobey

This memoir by Edwin Dusinberre recounts and reflects upon the author’s experience as First Violinist of the Takács Quartet in the context of Ludwig van Beethoven’s String Quartets. It delivers a fascinating and entertaining glimpse into the extraordinary life of a professional musician and that of a Quartet “family,” and reveals some of the subtle decisions and technicalities that go into selecting instruments and serving up outstanding and beautiful interpretations of Beethoven’s string masterpieces. A delightful, instructive, and amusing glimpse into a life that most of us can only imagine!

Recommendation by Stephen Murphy



A Devil to Play: One Man’s Year-Long Quest to Master the Orchestra’s Most Difficult Instrument by Jasper Rees (Harper Perennial, 2009)

This is a true story about a British journalist who decides to pick up his horn and try to master it after not having played for many years. His journey is full of humor and it is delightful to hear the encouragement he gets from the horn community. The book is both educational and entertaining.

Recommendation by Heidi Oros






Goodbye, Paris by Anstey Harris (Gallery Books, 2018)

Goodbye, Paris – by Anstey Harris “Grace once had the beginnings of a promising musical career as a cellist, but since college she’s built a quiet life for herself in her small English village, repairing instruments and nurturing a long- distance affair. However, when Grace hits rock bottom and abandons everything that has been important to her, her closest friends step in to help. But will their friendship be enough to help her pick up the pieces?”

Recommendation by Ola Silvera



Sound in Motion: A Performer’s Guide to Greater Musical Expression by David McGill (Indiana University Press, 2009)

David McGill, a bassoonist and “academic grandchild” of Philadelphia Orchestra’s famed oboist Marcel Tabuteau, elucidates Tabuteau’s rigorous thinking and teaching about musical expression. Tabuteau’s influence in American woodwind playing is unrivaled, and McGill’s synopsis of his methods is the best way for 21st-century musicians to access the thinking that made so many of his students so successful.  

Recommendation by Michael Schmidt​





Music and Relationships: Listening for a Better World by Evan Johnson (self-published, 2018)

Relationships between string quartet players! 

Recommendation by Suzanne Claffey

Authored by chamber musician and violinist Evan Johnson in 2018, this most impressive and insightful book contains over 400 music excerpts and is an exceptional discussion of the relationships between String Quartet players as well as the intricacies of the chamber music literature. Please see the table of contents by clicking on MENU in the below link: 

Recommendation by Peter Aupperle and Suzanne Claffey 



Stormy Applause by Rostislav Dubinsky (Hill and Wang, 1989)

Story of the Borodin Quartet by its first leader. Full of amazing stories. Playing at Prokofiev’s and Stalin’s funeral on the same day. Speaking musical italian to get a meal in Krasnoyarsk. Returning to Moscow to find that Olya had died. Playing for Shostakovitch, and drinking with him. Car crash in California. Fines for late arrival at rehearsals.

Recommendation by David Hughes







Have You Seen Luis Velez? by Hyde C. Ryan (Lake Union Publishing)

From New York Times bestselling author Catherine Ryan Hyde comes a moving novel about two strangers who find that kindness is a powerful antidote to fear. – Goodreads

Recommendation by Harvey Alter




Famous Father Girl: A Memoir of Growing Up Bernstein by Jamie Bernstein (Harper, 2018)

Jamie Bernstein’s book about her fabled father not only takes us closer to Leonard Bernstein than anything yet published but stands by itself as a beautifully written and unflinchingly courageous expression of love, exasperation, amazement and forgiveness. (Tim Page, Professor of Journalism and Music at the University of Southern California)

Recommendation by Lorraine G Marks-Field





Music and Silence by Rose Tremain (Vintage books, 2000)

“A magical novel . . . which offers great beauty, great ugliness, great wisdom.”–The Spectator

“Lyrical, voluptuous and pictorially splendid.” —The Sunday Times (London)

Recommendation by Polly Kahn

The Gustav Sonata: A Novel by Author Rose Tremain (W. W. Norton & Company, 2016)

“Tremain is one of those few writers you trust completely when she goes to any unfamiliar territory, historical or emotional… Tremain knows how to show all the terrible bleak things that can happen between mothers and sons… This most unconventional book offers no easy answer, which makes it as disturbing and electric as any high-wire act. ”
– The New York Times Book Review

Recommendation by Polly Kahn


My First 79 Years: Isaac Stern by Chaim Potok (Da Capo Press, 2001)

“A significant chapter in the history of high culture in America.” — Washington Post Book World

“Entertaining, informative, thoughtful, generous, and dignified.” — Richard Dyer, Boston Globe

“One of the few artists who has had as much impact off the stage as on it.” — Philadelphia Inquirer

Recommendation by John Matthew Sandor 


Check out last year’s edition here!

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