All The Best Paradigm Shifts Are Started By A Man In A Dressing Gown, Humming

Finding that all the new music I hear sounds like the regurgitated and repackaged music of my teens and twenties, I’ve hung up my indiepop rollerboots and am off to explore pastures new.

When I say new, I mean new to me – the stuff that’s currently floating my boat is centuries old, and I’m talking Baroque. You could put this shift down to my age, but actually it’s exposure to my son’s musical tastes that’s flicked the switch. In classic ‘Absolutely Fabulous’ fashion, he resisted the alternative rock and indie stuff that we were heavily into when he was growing up, choosing instead to immerse himself exclusively in the world of Classical music.

I can’t say I shared his organ music obsession – an oppressively chirpy, manic organ recital is not what you want to be bombarded with first thing in the morning, or in fact, ever –  but Bach’s piano compositions are sublime. I’m currently having my mind blown by Glenn Gould’s recordings of Bach, especially his ‘Goldberg Variations’ and ‘The Well-Tempered Clavier’. Gould was quite an eccentric character and audibly hums and chirrups along as he plays, as you can see and hear in this clip of him playing the second of Bach’s ‘Partitas

I’m not a total novice to Classical (or in this case, Baroque) music, but my knowledge is pretty scant. Regular listening to Radio 3 is helping, but I want to have a greater understanding of the history of music and a clearer sense of who wrote what and when. I want to know what was going on at the time of writing – both politically and artistically, and also, what inspired these composers to create such incredible works. Clearly, a book purchase was in order.

Schonberg's 'The Lives of The Great Composers'

I went for a tried and tested classic as a good place to start. If the reviews are anything to go by, Harold C. Schonberg’s ‘The Lives of The Great Composers’ is the go-to compendium of the history of Classical music. At over 700 pages, it’s not light, but from what I’ve already seen, it’s an engaging read, both intelligent and witty. With this tome at hand, I’ll be well on my way to becoming a Classical bore in no time. Consider yourselves warned.

The Lives of the Great Composers - Schonberg

There’s only one thing better than a great secondhand book, and that’s a secondhand book with a free cat bookmark inside – win!

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