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AmandaM

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For Christmas my brother gave me Practicing, and I've really enjoyed reading most of it. Even though it's about playing the guitar, a lot of what he says is very relevant for any musician, I think.

From a friend I borrowed The Soloist, which I guess most American violinists have already read -- but I hadn't.

Two recommendations from me -- any comments? Or other recommendations?

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For Christmas my brother gave me Practicing, and I've really enjoyed reading most of it. Even though it's about playing the guitar, a lot of what he says is very relevant for any musician, I think.

From a friend I borrowed The Soloist, which I guess most American violinists have already read -- but I hadn't.

Two recommendations from me -- any comments? Or other recommendations?

Amanda, I _loved_ Practicing. I practically cried all the way through it. In so many ways, he expresses the feelings of every working musician. I hadn't heard of The Soloist, but I just bought it on Kindle.

I've usually got four or five books going at the same time. Right now, it's rereading an old favorite, Getting What you Came For: The Smart Student's Guide to Earning a Master's or PhD. Not directly music related, but useful.

I recently found a used set of Will Durant's The Story of Civilization, in 11 volumes. I've been working on this Fine Arts Interdisciplinary PhD forever, and if I can ever take the quals, they pretty much expect you to know *everything.* I feel like if I have a good general sense of history, I can plot where the music stuff comes a bit better, in relation to the whole.

That's the theory, anyway. :)

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Hi Amanda, I first thought you were referring to Mark Salzman's novel The Soloist and was going to say that I thought An Equal Music, by Vikram Seth--which has a somewhat similar theme--was a more satisfying read (although they were both "worth it" in my opinion). However this one looks very interesting; I'll have to look for a copy! Actually your other recommendation sounds intriguing as well--I recently saw it in a bookstore and didn't buy it but I may have to find it again. Thanks for the suggestions!

I'm currently re-reading Arnold Steinhardt's book Violin Dreams, which caught my eye since I've been following him and the Guarneri Quartet since the '70s. And along that same line I recently finished Con Brio: Four Russians called the Budapest String Quartet--a bit lightweight but informative. Also Barry Green's The Mastery of Music which I thought had some good insights on whole the process of performing music (he also cowrote The Inner Game of Music which I read a number of years ago and have somewhere; I'll have to find it...). I also found a copy of Artur Rubinstein's "My Young Years" for really cheap on a clearance rack in my local used bookstore, and it looks intriguing but too heavy to carry on the train where I get most of my reading done, so it'll have to wait!

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I read Violin Dreams a little while ago. I liked it but I think I prefer 'Indivisble by Four', which I intend to re-read soon. I also bought & have yet to read 2 of David Blum's other books: 'Quintet: Five Journeys Towards Musical Fulfillment' and 'The Art of Quartet Playing: The Guarneri Quartet'

I also started the highly recommended Rostropovich biography by Elizabeth Wilson.. hope to get back to it one of these days...

... and just to clarify for folks who may not be aware, there are (at least) 2 books called 'Soloist' which involve cellists. The older one by Mark Salzman and the more recent one by Steve Lopez about the Juilliard trained musician who was schizophrenic & ended up on the streets. The Lopez book has just been made into a movie.

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I really enjoyed reading Vikram Seth's An Equal Music, too. It was probably the first time that I actually "believed" in a piece of fiction about musicians -- all the books I'd read up to that point had had obvious attempts at displaying knowledge of musicians' inside stuff, only they failed so badly. Seth must have done some serious research!

One cute thing about the Steve Lopez book is that the main character is actually a bass player. But he's homeless, and the only string instrument he can cover up in his cart during the night is a violin. So he plays the violin instead. There's big fuss when Lopez gets him his dream instrument, a cello which he obviously can't push around on the streets without anyone noticing ...

Another music-related novel that I keep returning to every second year or so (I must have been 12 when I found it) is Cynthia Voigt's A Solitary Blue. The main character is a boy who starts playing the guitar. In the same series there's a novel about a ballet girl. Both of them are full of people who are really alive and insights that really matter -- at least to me.

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I recently found a used set of Will Durant's The Story of Civilization, in 11 volumes. I've been working on this Fine Arts Interdisciplinary PhD forever, and if I can ever take the quals, they pretty much expect you to know *everything.* I feel like if I have a good general sense of history, I can plot where the music stuff comes a bit better, in relation to the whole.

That's the theory, anyway. :)

MingLoo...I'm a student of history also. In order to understand music, we have to have knowledge of ancient civilization's and how their religion's and politics have lead us to modern times. I find it all fascinating. Goodluck with your studies.

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I read Violin Dreams a little while ago. I liked it but I think I prefer 'Indivisble by Four', which I intend to re-read soon. I also bought & have yet to read 2 of David Blum's other books: 'Quintet: Five Journeys Towards Musical Fulfillment' and 'The Art of Quartet Playing: The Guarneri Quartet'

I found Blum's book on The Guarneri Quartet quite enlightening. f you're interested in them there's also Helen Drees Ruttencutter's book "Quartet: A Profile of the Guarneri Quartet." An expansion of a profile piece she wrote that appeared in The New Yorker. Probably long out of print but shouldn't be too hard to find used. Definitely a fun read.

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