July 9, 2010 by Reader's Connection
Courtesy of Ellen Flexman–librarian at the East 38th Street Branch–here´s a list of books about music. The comments are Ellen´s, as are the suggested musical accompaniments for the books.
I´ll Sleep When I´m Dead: The Dirty Life and Times of Warren Zevon by Crystal Zevon
When Warren Zevon was diagnosed with terminal cancer, he did a brave thing. He asked his ex-wife Crystal to compile a warts-and-all oral history of his life. She talked to band mates, family members, ex-girlfriends, and Warren himself to get a complete picture of the man who brought us Werewolves of London. After reading this, you may not like the man, but you’ll sure love the genius.
Three different women, three different styles, three vastly different backgrounds. But together they raised the visibility and respect for women songwriters and singers. What they did share was refusal to compromise they talent, and the ability to take whatever was thrown at them and turn it into a work of art.
The Cello Suites: J.S. Bach, Pablo Casals, and the Search for a Baroque Masterpiece by Eric Siblin
This book is actually three books in one. It’s the story of Bach and how he came to compose the suites, it’s the story of how Pablo Casals found and revived the suites in the 19th and 20th centuries, and it’s the story of the suites themselves—their power, their beauty, and how they’ve gone from forgotten to some of the most beloved pieces of music ever written.
What to listen to while you’re reading this: The Cello Suites, played by Pablo Casals of course!
The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century by Alex Ross
Classical music is a lot like math. It’s possible to enjoy the history and significance of it without knowing all the technical parts. The author of this book puts twentieth century classical music into context with history and with other musical styles. Can you enjoy Debussy without knowing he was influenced by jazz? Does the Threepenny Opera make more sense if you know about Germany before Hitler? Probably not. But knowing how historical events influence music (and vice versa) can give a reader a much deeper sense of understanding how we got from Mahler to Nixon in China.
Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong by Terry Teachout
If you watched Ken Burns’ Jazz, you probably know all the highlights: how young Louis Armstrong was arrested as a child for shooting a gun, how he learned to play coronet at the Waif’s Home, how he became a big star playing for King Oliver. This book gives that and so much more. Louis (pronounced Lou-IS, not Lou-IE, please) was an extraordinary man dedicated to his art who saw himself as an entertainer first, jazz musician second, and who stayed true to that even when the next generation of musicians dismissed him as a has-been.
What to listen to while you’re reading: for a good sample of Armstrong over the years, try Complete Hot Five and Hot Seven Recordings , Louis Armstrong from Ken Burns’ Jazz, and Louis Armstrong Vol. 6: St. Louis Blues.