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Out of Silence: A Pianist's Yearbook Hardcover – 18 Mar 2010

5.0 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 276 pages
  • Publisher: Boydell Press (18 Mar. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1843835576
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843835578
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.8 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 448,823 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


The Japanese translation of Out of Silence has been chosen as one of the best books of 2012 by Chopin magazine, Japan. With a sure literary touch, that outstanding pianist and educator Susan Tomes (takes) us inside the world of the over-worked, under-valued classical player in 'Out of Silence'. I wish idiots who bleat about the 'elitism' of the classical tradition could at least pick up this generous, friendly, revealing diary of a year's hard slog. THE INDEPENDENT, Best Books for Christmas 2010 feature A distinguished performer who writes with penetration, fluency and charm...Tomes has the unique gift of answering questions about the musical life that every other literary register seems to overlook. A supreme chamber performer, she writes with all the qualities of her chosen field: intimate, exact, conversational; a style of mutual respect...Open this insightful and delightful book on any page, and learn with pleasure. INDEPENDENTSusan Tomes has contributed two remarkably probing books, Beyond the Notes and Out of Silence, to the literature (of performers writing about their craft). GUARDIAN (Simon Callow)There have been books about the experience of playing...but none by so naturally gifted a writer as Tomes...(who) has a particular understanding of humanity rare in writing about music. TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENTPacked full of fascinating material reflecting upon the difficult and sometimes intangible issues that face a busy professional pianist...what emerges from these pages is Tomes's strong sense of humility, her quirky humour, and above all her tremendous love and driving enthusiasm for her work...a compelling read. BBC MUSICTomes joins that small band of musicians whose literary skill runs parallel to their musical talent...(she) extracts on almost every page a life lesson for the rest of us, whether or not we are musicians. CLASSIC FM MAGAZINEThis is an essentially practical volume that encapsulates what it is to be a jobbing professional who is sensitive to the interconnectivity of the world at large...by the end, I felt I not only knew more about the author, but also about myself. Highly recommended. INTERNATIONAL PIANOFor a parent with a musically gifted child the collection is essential reading. OLDIE

About the Author

SUSAN TOMES has won a number of awards for her recordings of chamber music. For fifteen years she was the pianist of Domus, and for another fifteen she has been the pianist of the Florestan Trio, one of the world's leading piano trios. She is the author of Beyond the Notes and A Musician's Alphabet. She writes occasionally for the Guardian and on a blog on her own website, www.susantomes.com.

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Format: Hardcover
Quite simply, this is a superb book.

Susan Tomes is a pianist who writes as well as she plays the piano. On the face of it, I wondered whether a book made up of entries from a performer's diary over a period of a year would be enough to hold my attention from cover to cover. I had read her first book, Beyond the Notes, a few years ago and realized then that I enjoyed her writing almost as much as her playing. The earlier book dealt with her early days as pianist of Domus, a chamber music ensemble, which travelled throughout Britain, performing in a mobile performance space in locations that otherwise might not have hosted a chamber music concert. In that book, she also discussed issues concerning music musicians, and performance and several of the chapters provided much food for though.
Out of Silence is quite different. It is divided into months with several entries for each month, most of which run to about one and a half to two pages. Some are even shorter and one or two reach over three pages. Behind these short essays lies some deep thinking. That does not mean that Ms. Tomes presents heavy philosophical arguments couched in obscurantist language -- quite to the contrary. The book is written in clear English so that everyone can understand exactly what she means. Its objective seems to be to convey to the lay reader some of the trials and tribulations of a performing artist or, as she puts it, a travelling musician though I daresay that professional musicians will find a lot of interest here as well.
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Format: Hardcover
Having read Susan Tomes' book "Beyond the Notes" and now "Out of Silence", I am once again struck by her ability to discuss the classical music profession realistically and honestly and to do so in a totally entertaining way. Being a pianist myself, I find Ms. Tomes to be a soul searching individual of considerable depth. While she shares her experiences as a successful pianist, she opens up to real things happening to real people, herself included. Her ultimate goal is to find meaningful and lasting artistry in the truest sense, and the ardent trials that come with it. The book consists of short essays that range from comical to profoundly moving experiences. I recommend this book to any musician, not just pianists. It's a really good read.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I devoured Out of Silence from cover to cover. Described as a pianist's yearbook, it traces a year in the life of a classical pianist - in the form of a blog rather than a diary or a journal. Each entry develops a theme or a thought that has inspired her interpretation of a score or her performance of a piece of music. The essays are short, thought provoking, informative, and interesting.

Getting up at six o'clock to catch a plane reminds the author of childhood piano practice in the cold and dark of an Edinburgh morning. How familiar that sounds, except that I never started quite that early and was never as anywhere near as dedicated or talented as Susan Tomes! She describes the nerves before a concert, the walk from the wings to one's place on the stage, interaction with the audience during and after a performance, and the physical stamina needed to play at the ever-increasing volumes required in larger concert halls. Her musings on watching a Wimbledon final between Federer and Nadal led her to think that it would be equally skilful to hit the ball so that the other person could, rather than could not, hit it back. `It struck me that hitting the ball deliberately out of the other person's reach was very unsportsmanlike.'

I was surprised and fascinated to read that musicians who have been playing together for many years and have developed such rapport in their performance often have little to say to each other once the performance is over and `are actually desperate to go back into their shells':

`Sometimes it feels as if as soon as the music stops, the members of a group become like magnets with their like poles together, agitating to repel one another.
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