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The Life of Music

New Adventures in the Western Classical Tradition

Nicholas Kenyon


"A typically wise and thoughtful book, which manages to combine a wealth of unexpected information with an immensely readable style - it should grab anybody, whatever their level of musical knowledge."-Sir Simon Rattle, music director, London Symphony Orchestra
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The new updated edition of David Olusoga’s vital book on black British history

"Groundbreaking" – Observer

Nicholas Kenyon explores the enduring appeal of the classical canon at a moment when we can access all music-across time and cultures

"At its lively best when Kenyon's own passions are laid bare, . . . his belief, above all, in the power of music to unite individual and community."-Fiona Maddocks, The Observer

Immersed in music for much of his life as writer, broadcaster and concert presenter, former director of the BBC Proms, Nicholas Kenyon has long championed an astonishingly wide range of composers and performers. Now, as we think about culture in fresh ways, Kenyon revisits the stories that make up the classical tradition and foregrounds those which are too often overlooked. This inclusive, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic guide highlights the achievements of the women and men, amateurs and professionals, who bring music to life.

Taking us from pianist Myra Hess's performance in London during the Blitz, to John Adams's composition of a piece for mourners after New York's 9/11 attacks, to Italian opera singers singing from their balconies amidst the 2020 pandemic, Kenyon shows that no matter how great the crisis, music has the power to bring us together. His personal, celebratory account transforms our understanding of how classical music is made-and shows us why it is more relevant than ever.
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Book publisherYale University Press
Publication date9 Apr 2021
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