Books about Instrumental Music


November 20, 2023

784. Books about instruments & instrumental ensembles

Further Reading:

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Anshel Brusilow and Robin Underdahl Shoot the Conductor: Too Close to Monteux, Szell, and Ormandy, 2015.

American conductor Anshel Brusilow grew up in Philadelphia, where he learned to play violin at age five. By sixteen, he was playing with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Musical greats Pierre Monteux, George Szell, and Eugene Ormandy shaped his early career. But his desire to conduct was intense, and he sacrificed his relationship with Ormandy to follow his dream. This book reveals the fiercely competitive world of top-tier classical musicians.

785. Ensembles with one instrument per part

Betty Lou English You Can’t Be Timid with a Trumpet: Notes from the Orchestra, 1981.

Written for young people, this book relates a conversation between a famous conductor and seventeen men and women who play for well-respected orchestras. The instruments played by each are also detailed.

786. Keyboard & Other Instruments

Philip Kennicott Counterpoint: A Memoir of Bach and Mourning, 2020.

Bach’s music was the only music that Philip Kennicott could bear to hear while his mother was dying. He became so obsessed with it that he devoted five years to learning to play the Goldberg Variations. In this memoir, Kennicott describes what the music meant to him and its challenges. He describes learning to play the piano in the 20th century while he muses on music and relationships.

Patti Niemi Sticking It Out: Chronicles of a Percussionist from Julliard to the Orchestra Pit: Percussionist’s Memoir, 2017.

Professional percussionist Patti Niemi shares life in the elite world of classical music performance today. She narrates her childhood, where she defied gender norms to choose the drums, her years studying at Juilliard, and her professional experiences. Her memoir explains the good and the bad of this high-pressure world.

787. Stringed instruments

Steve Lopez The Soloist: A Lost Dream, An Unlikely Friendship, and the Redemptive Power of Music, 2008.

American journalist Steve Lopez hears Nathaniel Ayers playing a two-string violin on a Los Angeles street and is inspired to write a story about him. What he learns about the life of this man and their developing friendship is unforgettable.

For more information on the Further Reading series, see “Further Reading: Start Here.”


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