A Sound Mind: How I Fell in Love with Classical Music (and Decided To Rewrite Its Entire History)

Bloomsbury. Nov. 2020. 608p. ISBN 9781635570267. $30. MUSIC
After some four decades writing about pop and rock, Morley (Ask: The Chatter of Pop) dives into the world of classical music, which once again has allowed him to feel the joy of discovery. Here he recounts his experience learning about music history, as well as writing about, listening to, and making music. Morley discusses his favorite pieces and musicians, expounds on how to assemble playlists (he also provides a number of them), and converses with contemporary composers including Harrison Birtwistle, Oliver Knussen, and John Adams. This is a thoughtful work full of fresh observations and strong opinions. Two of its 10 chapters (“The String Quartets—in Four Parts” and “The Piano—Light and Dark”) are particularly illuminating and offer unique approaches. His writing strikes just the right note: erudite but edgy, entertaining but enlightening.
VERDICT An excellent guide for anyone interested in expanding their musical horizons.
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