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Summer Reading Recommendations by ACMP Members

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!

 

This article represents a selection of the recommended books. For a complete list, click here.

Amy Nathan's book Making Time for Making Music is featured in a separate post, including an interview with the author. Nathan's book is packed with stories of adult musicians' journeys back to music playing. Click here to read post.

 

Evenings with Orchestra

Evenings with the Orchestra by Hector Berlioz, translated by Jacques Barzum (University of Chicago Press, 1999).

A perennial favorite of mine is Evenings with the Orchestra by Hector Berlioz.  Berlioz was a consummate music critic and teller of tales, and the translation into English by Jacques Barzun has great notes and introduction.  

Recommendation by Katy Morgan.

 

 

 

 

The Piano Shop on the Left Bank: Discovering a Forgotten Passion in a Paris Atelier by Thaddeus Carhart (Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2002).

Recommendation by Gail Greenspan.

 

 

 

 

 

The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes (Vintage International, 2017).

Recommendation by Gail Greenspan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gregory Piatigorsky: The Life and Career of the Virtuoso Cellist by Terry King (McFarland, 2010).

This definitive biography chronicles a musical legend’s tempestuous life and career. Piatigorsky began his career on second hand instruments, escaping the Russian Revolution to play with the Warsaw Philharmonic, eventually making his way to the United States during World War II.

Recommendation by Susan B. Smith.

 

 

 

 

The Complete Artist’s Way: Creativity as a Spiritual Practice by Julia Cameron (Tarcher/Penguin 2007).

Cameron encourages the creativity in all of us and gives us concrete suggestions for developing our artistic selves, overcoming self-criticism to be “perfect” or “famous” as an artist or not try at all.  She gives you the 12 steps to recovering the creative self lost after childhood and a life filled with practical effort at work, family responsibility and repression of the artistic self.

Recommendation by Susan B. Smith.

 

 

 

The Little Red Book of Musician’s Wisdom by Sheila E. Anderson (Skyhorse Publishing, 2012).

This wonderful collection of quotes on music by famous musicians and famous people sets forth views of life as seen through the creative prism of music. Little gems include “Music is the shorthand of emotion” –Leo Tolstoy, “If music is eccentric, I have to be. Anybody talented in any way-they’re called eccentric” –Theloniois Monk, “One good thing about music: When it hits you, you feel no pain” -T.J. Christofore.

Recommendation by Susan B. Smith.

 

 

Maestros and their Music: The Art and Alchemy of Conducting by John Mauceri (Knopf, 2017).

This book is intended to provide insight into the art and business of conducting. While musicians may find it overly basic at times, it's filled with interesting anecdotes.

Recommendation by Lisa Norton.

 

 

 

 

 

Toscanini: Musician of Conscience by Harvey Sachs (Liveright, 2017).

A lengthy and detailed account of the life and career of Arturo Toscanini, all placed into historical context. I learned a lot about Toscanini as a musician and social activist.

Recommendation by Lisa Norton.

 

 

 

 

 

And After the Fire: A Novel by Lauren Belfer (Harper Perennial, 2017)

A well-researched creative piece centered on a fictional lost and found cantata by J.S. Bach. A good mystery, and along the way I learned some interesting tidbits about the Mendelssohn family. 

Recommendation by Lisa Norton.

 

 

 

 

Friends and Fiddlers by Catherine Drinker Bowen (Literary Licensing, 2011).

An old personal favorite; I knew and played with several of the author’s friends. Aside from expensive hardcover editions, it seems to be available only in Kindle – but it’s a delight.

Recommendation by Linda Plaut.

 

 

 

 

Piano: The Making of a Steinway Concert Grand by James Barron (Times Books, 2007).

The story of pianos and how they are made, told in a highly engaging manner.

Recommendation by Jeff Cohlberg.

 

 

 

 

 

Play it Again: An Amateur Against the Impossible by Alan Rusbridger. (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013).

A delightful account of the year the editor of the Guardian spent learning to play Chopin’s G Minor Ballade, with advice from many of the famous people he knows.

Recommendation by Jeff Cohlberg.

 

 

 

 

Violin Dreams by Arnold Steinhardt (Mariner Books, 2008).

The irresistibly charming violinist of the Guarneri Quartet tells the history of this love affair with violins.

Recommendation by Jeff Cohlberg.

 

 

 

 

Mozart's Ghost: A Novel by Julia Cameron (Thomas Dunne Books, 2008).

Meet Anna, a thirty-something Midwesterner living alone in New York City. A schoolteacher by day, she is a medium by night. Secretive and guarded, Anna leads a double life until she meets Edward, and before long Mozart’s Ghost makes a pest of himself to Anna, playing matchmaker with unpredictable results.

Recommendation by Marcha Johnson.

 

 

 

 

Indivisible by Four by Arnold Steinhardt of the Guarneri Quartet (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000).

Very nice insights in the life of 4 professionals that played over 30 years together.

Recommendation by Henri van den Hombergh.

 

 

 

 

 

The Ill Tempered String Quartet by Lester Chafetz (McFarland & Co. 2005).

Recommendation by Henri van den Hombergh.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chamber Music Repertoire for Amateur Players - A Guide to choosing works Matching Players' Abilities by Harold Haynes (Harold Haynes, 2006).

This treasure trove of information lists and rates various genres (string quartet, chamber works with piano, chamber works with winds) with an overall recommendation and difficulty by part. It also lists chamber works by composer and instrumentation.

Recommendation by Janet White.

 

 

 

 

Beethoven for a Later Age by Ed Dusinberre (Faber & Faber Classical Music & Dance, 2016).

The First Violinist in the Takacs Quartet recounts a combination of memoirs of his time in the quartet and dissects some of the Beethoven quartets.

Recommendation by Sue Lauscher.

 

 

 

 

Beethoven’s String Quartet Opus 74 “The Harp” by Janet White (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2008).

A fun an interesting read for the summer. In this fictional novel centered around the original manuscript of Opus 74, the second violinist of “the London Quartet” thinks stealing the manuscript could help him attain fame, pay his debts and win the heart of his quartet’s new cellist.

Recommendation by Anne Prescott.

 

 

 

 

 

The Art of String Quartet Playing: Practice, Technique, and Interpretation by M. D. Herter Norton (W.W. Norton & Co., 1966).

This basic guide includes exercises for nonprofessional players who want to rehearse regularly with their group.

Recommendation by David Yang

 

 

 

 

 

Chamber Music: An Extensive Guide for Listeners by Lucy Miller Murray (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers).

A comprehensive book of professional program notes by an ACMP member.

Recommendation by David Yang.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century by Alex Ross (Picador, 2008).

 

The terrific New Yorker writer has essays on all kinds of classical music. Really terrific reading.

Recommended by David Yang and Jeff Cohlberg