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Parallels and Paradoxes: Explorations in Music and Society Paperback – 1 Mar 2004


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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC; New edition edition (1 Mar 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747563853
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747563853
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 149,681 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

A beautifully poised series of dialogues ... they're a testimony to the enormous gifts and courage of both men -- Tom Paulin, Guardian

A completely gripping conversation about music and politics -- Andrew Marr, Observer

A fascinating exchange of ideas on music, politics and literature -- Classic FM Magazine

An extraordinary meeting of minds in troubled times -- Financial Times

Without question, the most original book of the year ... Marvellous -- Nadine Gordimer, TLS

About the Author

Edward W. Said was University Professor of English and Comparitive Literature at Columbia University and the author of twenty-one books including Orientalism, Culture and Imperialism and The End of the Peace Process. His books have been published in thirty-six languages. He died in 2003. Daniel Barenboim was born in Buenos Aires and grew up in Israel. He has been Music Director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra since 1991 and of the Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin since 1992. Barenboim began conducting with the New Philharmonic Orchestra in London in 1967 and was musical director of the Orchestre de Paris. He lives in Germany.

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Sajid Rizvi on 6 Dec 2008
Format: Paperback
Few outside his immediate circle would have foreseen that soon after the publication of this highly original book on music, there will be requiems in mourning for Edward Said worldwide. The fighting philosopher died in New York in September 2003 after a long battle with leukaemia at the tender age of 67 - tender in proportion to his intellectual rigour.

The book's seemingly innocuous title and its tentative subtitle immediately draw the reader to its substance. Unbeknownst to many, Argentina-born Israeli Daniel Barenboim and Said, a native of Jerusalem, were close friends. Also unknown to many, Said, in spite of his fame as a campaigning academic and critic, was a passionate connoisseur of music, an accomplished pianist and a musical essayist.

His friendship with Barenboim, director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and of the Berlin State Opera, baffled or intrigued some westerners but it was quite in step with tradition in Palestine, where Arabs and Jews had lived in relative harmony for hundreds of years right up to the end of the Second World War and the establishment of the state of Israel.

The two shared something else: fearlessness in the face of adverse publicity. Said was no stranger to controversy or - worse - hate campaigns, but Barenboim too courted public furore by insisting on performance of Nazi-era Wagner's music in Israel. Their successful joint effort to bring together Israeli and Arab musicians for a workshop in Germany led to further such endeavours, in an era marked by optimism over the peace process. But Parallels and Paradoxes goes beyond musical explorations and, as the title suggests, it isn't just about music.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Rico on 23 Mar 2004
Format: Paperback
This is a real gem of a book. It is a distillation of numerous conversations between Barenboim, one of the most celebrated figures in music today, and Said, an equally revered commentator on literature and culture. Essentially, though, this is Barenboim's book. His insights into how music can transcend nationhood, race and history almost elevate the work of Beethoven and Wagner into the philosophical canon. Said's role is very much one of the interviewer, probing and prising nuggets from Barenboim's rich soliloquies. Indeed, in response to Barenboim's exposition of the role of music in society, Said laments the modern day obsession with specialisation and its growing ignorance of synergies between literature, art, music, history and politics.
It is these discussions, in particular, which offer a refreshingly holistic view of topics which to the myopic among us appear unconnected. Barenboim's reflections on the parallels between music and history are worth the price of the book alone:
"...wherever they play [musicians in an orchestra], they are perfectly and consciously aware of what each note they are playing at each moment actually means in the context... this is a very important factor in music-making, what one would call the vertical pressure of the horizontal discourse. In this respect, music is exactly like history, which has to be lived both simultaneously and subsequently."
A privilege and a delight.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book provides an insight into the minds of two larger-than-life personalities and intellectual giants. The reader cannot fail to be stimulated and challenged. It helps to have an appreciation of music, although through these 'conversations' Barenboim and Said share their thoughts on literature, philosophy, cultural differences and social justice, too. Indeed, the discussions on music-making are somewhat abstract, almost metaphysical. These conversations are not set out in chronological order, which some may find disorientating. I actually consider it a plus - because each one stands alone, making this a book that can be 'dipped into' over and over, as I'm sure I shall. Mandatory reading for those interested in the genesis of the West-Eastern Divan orchestra, perhaps the finest achievement of these outstanding men.
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