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What are you reading, music or otherwise?


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Showing 1-25 of 588 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 17 May 2009, 00:17:36 BST
[Deleted by the author on 23 Oct 2009, 01:25:31 BST]

Posted on 17 May 2009, 01:17:09 BST
marmalady says:
Not related to music at all: Paul Scott's Raj Quartet. A bit late in the day, but having passionately adored the Granada TV production, I couldn't bring myself to read it for all those years. Now I see what I was missing. Have finished The Jewel in the Crown, and am halfway through The Day of the Scorpion. Stunning, vivid, detailed books.
I've never really read books on music, unless you count biographies - Yehudi Menuhin, Joan Sutherland, Shostakovich, for example.
I'm intending to read John Suchet's books on Beethoven soon. Unless anyone recommends something else as better...

In reply to an earlier post on 17 May 2009, 01:36:01 BST
[Deleted by the author on 23 Oct 2009, 01:25:41 BST]

In reply to an earlier post on 17 May 2009, 02:04:21 BST
Last edited by the author on 17 May 2009, 02:29:29 BST
marmalady says:
I'll look into that, thanks Piso.
re Jewel in the Crown, I believe it was the greatest adaptation we have ever had on TV. I also think it was a peak for almost every actor in it - unfortunate for the younger ones, in that many have had nothing since to live up to the standard they set in JITC. It was truly sublime.

I'm also going to read the new (last year) book on C S Lewis soon, linked to the programme I mentioned. The book is called Planet Narnia: the Seven Heavens in the Imagination of CS Lewis by Michael Ward. It looks VERY interesting, and promises finally to make sense of the odd mixture of 'real' and unreal in the Narnia books. It seems each book is filled with the imagery and spiritual symbols of the seven planets of Medieval Cosmology, one for each book. And Lewis was using these stories to illustrate his deep belief in a 'meaning-drenched universe' as a response to the atheists and philosophers who tried to prove otherwise. Just as relevant now, as the argument rages on.
On the programme the author visited the Wade Center at Wheaton College, local to you. And good heavens, just a minute, I see that they have pinched a wardrobe from Lewis's house!

Posted on 17 May 2009, 12:08:43 BST
Last edited by the author on 17 May 2009, 12:25:59 BST
Books, hmmm. Where to start?

Well it's all been artists for me lately. I've just finished (and reviewed) my beautiful birthday book on the works of George Grosz. In the last week I've read through books or catalogues of Klimt, and the terrific British Moderns, Glenn Brown and Gordon Cheung. I'm about to tuck into the Tate's handsome catalogue to it's upcoming Futurism exhibition.

A week ago I finished my second cover to cover reading of W.B.Yeats, which has been life changing in that it's had a big impact on my own writing style.

I'm badly anal in that once I've started a book I won't stop, no matter how cr*p or disappointing it turns out to be. I have two such struggles on my hands at the moment. I really need to stop with my Kaufmann Basic Writings of Nietzsche, as it starts with Birth of Tragedy, and I'm just not familiar enough with Classical Greek theatre for it to be meaningful. A sane thing to do would be to skip BOT until I had acquired the relevant background, and move on to some of the other works, but again the anal retentive just won't let me do it. It's the same symptomology as when I try to restrain myself from buying everything a composer ever did, having discovered that I like some one thing. Suspect this is rather male psychopathology, as has been broached elsewhere on these hallowed fora.

My other struggle is with a book by the Hong Kong 'poet' Ronnie Lee: 'The Book Of Life: Existentialism, the Will and the Truth - The New Wisdom of Philosophy'. The book is actually marked as to be shelved with Philosophy, but it's too logically fluffy to be serious philosophy. It's also too mechanical, trying to present itself as poeticised, philosophical arguments, to be effective as poetry. It also seems to be trying to harness poor command of English as a poetic device. Terms like Existentialism, Will and Truth are used a lot throughout, but seem to have only cursory relations with these concepts as I have come to understand them through my own philosophical reading. All in all, this feels like pop philosophy-lite in the cause of rather cheap and obvious 'wisdom'. But there remains the nagging suspicion that if I were to closet myself in a Zen monastery for a few years and brushed up on my Confucius, Mencius, et al then all this would suddenly spring open and make sublime and perfect sense. But no, that ain't gonna happen, so come on John, put the book down.

In the wings I have waiting Saul Bellow's Humboldt's Gift, which I've sneak previewed enough to know I'm going to love it, and which I'm holding off on because I know that once I get started I'm not going to be able to put it down, and all the rest of my life will go to hell till I've finished it and all the other twelve of his novels.

Meanwhile, ticking away very, very slowly, is Carey and Scullard's massive one volume history of Rome. I am reading this so slowly because the font is so tinsy winsy that I can only manage ten or so pages before temporary blindness sets in. I have just realised that I need to acquire some kind of mounted magnifying glass so that I can get this finished once and for all.

Then there's Philip Johnson Laird's superb 'How we Reason', a detailed cognitive science text that shows what experimental psychology has determined about the way the Brain actually structures the task of analytic reasonin; extraordinary. Got about half way through this when the whole Wagner thing with Basilides occasioned one of my big Arts/Science polarity shifts. I know I've left it too long now and when I return to it, as I will, I will have to start once more from the beginning.

If anyone wonders how I can be reading so much, and all at the same time, it's because, without going into details, I am on long term sick leave from work, and reading or listening to music is about all I can actually do.

I'd be interested to know if anyone else reads so many things at once (it only started last year, or at least only got this fragmented) or if it is just one more symptom if my cheerfully disintegrating personality. :-)

I realise that this all makes me sound a bit of a smart-ar*e but be assured that I forget everything I read within thirty seconds, so in all it's little more edifying than sudoku.

In reply to an earlier post on 17 May 2009, 17:18:08 BST
marmalady says:
I have the same problem with remembering anything I've read. It's intensely annoying. For this reason, if I find myself reading something I don't like, I just look at the ending and give up. I'm not tenacious, and it drives my elder daughter mad.
She reads several books, like you, at once, including her studies. She is also a self-taught speed reader, so she can finish anything, and remember it, very quickly. So she doesn't give up on any books.

In reply to an earlier post on 17 May 2009, 17:31:04 BST
[Deleted by the author on 23 Oct 2009, 01:26:07 BST]

Posted on 17 May 2009, 21:16:21 BST
Hmm, well I've just started a chunky biography on Yehudi Menuhin, but before that I was reading some of Roald Dahl's adult short stories (much recommended! The man's a genius, though that's obvious even from his children's books, which are still very funny and enjoyable, and very subtle!)

Posted on 19 May 2009, 17:17:29 BST
Edgar Self says:
Pressing forward with James Gaines "Evening in the Palace of Reason" about J.S. Bach's visit to Frederick the Great that resulted in "The Musical Offering (or Sacrifice?" and Bach's only six-voice fugue. Uphill work. The entire incident is described in six pages, but that doesn't make a book, so we get a history of five centuries of Hohenzollerns ... whose name literally translates to High Tolls or Taxes, a new height for truth in labelling ... the Holy Roman Empire, the Hapsburg Real Estate, Luther, the 30 Years' War, and later the 7 Years' War (they were learning), the Wartburg, Popes, Electors, Holy Roman Emperors who weren't, Prussia, Voltaire!, &tc.

The lives overlapped: Bach 1685-1750, Frederick 1712-1786, Voltaire 1694-1778. Frederick met both of the others, but I think Voltaire and Bach never met.

To win rounds at the pub, Question: Where is Bach's longest fugue found? Answer, from safely behind the dartboard, ... certainly not in Art of Fugue, or the many organ fugues, or even the Well Tempered Clavier's 48. No, Bach's longest fugue, a 10-minute job, is found in a piece for an instrument that cannot play a fugue, the violin ... in the unaccompanied Sonata in C. It is maybe not his best fugue, but it is the longest. Enjoy your drinks, and as you value your life, pay for the next round. (as in fugue).

Posted on 23 Jun 2009, 13:41:08 BST
[Deleted by the author on 23 Oct 2009, 01:26:24 BST]

Posted on 23 Jun 2009, 14:26:10 BST
MacDoom says:
Just reached book 5 in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series - for the fourth time. Just can't keep off them.

Before that: Joseph Gelink 'The Tenth Symphony', which rather disappointed me. Nice premise, not very gripping story (thriller about the recovery of Beethoven's tenth).

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Jun 2009, 15:30:28 BST
Last edited by the author on 23 Jun 2009, 15:37:38 BST
Mondoro says:
I read James Gaines' book last year - it had been on a list which I had on my desk for two years, and eventually I got round to asking my local library to get it for me. Very informative and worth getting, it tunred out to be. This was after visiting Postdam a few months before. I've always been ambivalent about Frederick the Great, and the vast difference between the militarism inherited from his father (a trulty respulsive figure) and the culture/'Reason' of his court. One feels there were always limitations in how far one could go, as in that other Palace of Reason, presided over by Catherine the Great.

While I was at Potsdam I bought a double box of CDs highlighting works by Potsdam-based composers, CPE Bach, Quantz and the King himself.

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Jun 2009, 15:36:00 BST
Mondoro says:
Bryher, I have the same problem, and until I devised a solution, used to pick up a book and after thirty of so pages realise I had read it before... My solution now is to keep a list of books read, under author. I have also started to write short (70-100 word) reviews as a mental exercise and to keep up writing skills.

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Jun 2009, 15:41:34 BST
Armida says:
MacDoom,

I love Terry Pratchett. I can't find all the books here in Kenya, alas..... apart from Granny Weatherwax and good old Ponder Stibbons, I love Small Gods.... I often thought about rubbing our dear old religionists' faces in it....

At the moment (and for the next few months, I suspect), I'm reading Zauberberg. And Dr. Faustus is lined up next (at current reading speed, probably for next year...).

Sadly, reading has become a bit of a pain. With glasses on, my arms aren't long enough; without glasses, I'm less than 10cm away from the book - and can't see anything else.... I now would love to get my hands on large print editions. Zauberberg isn't one of those.....

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Jun 2009, 17:42:00 BST
marmalady says:
Good idea, Mondoro. I think I'll have to do something similar, only a brief synopsis as well as 'books read' would be necessary. I think I have come to the age where brain training puzzles become not only fun, but a necessity.

I'm about to have a go at Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources, in French. Just as effective as brain training, I hope. Having only recently got round to watching both films, I want to read the original. The films really are brilliant. I'm ALMOST sure, at least, that I hadn't seen them before...recently I finally watched the third of the Bourne trilogy, having seen the first two on telly about a year ago. Watched the whole film (they're very good on building up tension, aren't they?), then at the very end I found myself wondering why the same thing was happening as the ending of the first film....now had I really forgotten the whole thing? Or does Bourne actually do the same in both, speaking to Joan Allen's character on the phone from the other side of the street, looking into her office? Am I daft?

Still no books on music I'm afraid.

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Jun 2009, 17:51:34 BST
marmalady says:
Hi Armida, nice to see you again. You stay away from those religionists, they aren't worth it. Stick with our peaceful little chats here.

I think you need new glasses. Or what about one of those book stands? Then you can sit as far away as necessary. Just get someone to sit by it and turn the pages for you...

I've never read Terry Pratchett (what never? no never!), I'm afraid. But I did read an amusing article about a large group of his fans (female, knitting ones) who knitted him a huge number of squares that they then put together into a wall-hanging, with all sorts of quotations and things, including 'I aten't dead yet'! or however he spells it. Apparently he was thrilled with it.

My daughter tells me she will be studying Dr Faustus next year. You can compare notes...

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Jun 2009, 18:30:01 BST
Armida says:
Hi Bryher,

hmmm... I'd need bifocals... what a thrilling thought...:(

If you have a chance, try to read some Terry Pratchett. It's the best satire I've come across in a long time - and highly entertaining.

Posted on 24 Jun 2009, 03:11:45 BST
[Deleted by the author on 23 Oct 2009, 01:26:51 BST]

In reply to an earlier post on 24 Jun 2009, 11:29:53 BST
Mondoro says:
Bryher, I am a member of a family in which everyone is proficient in a foreign language apart from me.... However, I have learnt to appreciate foreign films, particularly Italian (which my wife has been studying since she retired) and some Russian (my daughter and her husband are good Russian speakers). I did French at school but struggle through French films, trying not to look at the English sub-titles. I particularly enjoyed 'The Poisoner' on BBC4 a couple of years ago. Have you seen it?

Books on music: I have been struggling through Daniel Levitin's This is Your Brain on Music.

Posted on 24 Jun 2009, 13:11:36 BST
[Deleted by the author on 23 Oct 2009, 01:27:07 BST]

Posted on 24 Jun 2009, 20:42:05 BST
Last edited by the author on 24 Jun 2009, 20:44:55 BST
Just finished Robert Hughes' Shock of the New which was fascinating. It was a set text for art history undergrads in my university days, think it still might be so. Not sure I totally agree with him on where we draw the line beyond which it all starts to get silly. Nontheless he has an excellent turn of phrase and clearly huge erudition, and really opens ones eyes to the issues.

I'm also slowly savouring, painting by painting, the handsome catalogue to the current Tate Modern Futurism exhibition. The text gets a bit annoying. So much current art history writing is pretentious in exactly the way that Adam means. So much of it is private language intended to sustain mystique, limit access to the cognoscenti, and to prop up the appropriation of painting by capitatlist markets. Ugh! Don't get me started. Still the quality of the reproductions is very good.

After that I am now treating myself to some fiction after all the hard cultural history and art books I've been reading. The Children's Book by A.S.Byatt. I was a big fan of Possession and this is the first of hers I have read since then. I'm only a little way in and I have already found myself riveted by her psychological acuity.

I am also doing Keats Collected Poems for out loud reading in the bath. So much easier than Yeats, my last big poetry read, and such gorgeous language, though I get a bit tired of Knights and Ladies. As a result I have found out who Armida, is or at least her namesake. She was an enchantress who bewitched the Crusader, Rinaldo, in Tasso's epic poem, Jerusalem Delivered. So, there yer go.

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Jun 2009, 14:12:53 BST
[Deleted by the author on 23 Oct 2009, 01:27:29 BST]

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Jun 2009, 16:22:02 BST
I know you jest but there is nought like a book in th bath to ruin the complexion of the day. The last to suffer this fate at my hands was Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest, quite topical given that it's Wimbledon season. I find I am not able t oregard tennis players with the same eye after reading that. While the 'writ on water' epitaph is very touching does it not stand as a piece of false-modesty? Especially as it would seem from his own poetry that he had a shrewd eye on an immortality slot. As to Yeats? There is no other poet that has made me work so hard to get at what he was syaing, thouh very rewarding when one gets there. Auden is next on my list after complete Keats and the rather imposing but handsome complete Cummings edition that is queued up at my bedside.

Yes I do miss Basil, but having said that, I am also enjoying the sense of peace and serenity that currently reigns on our forum. I will enjoy it while it lasts.

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Jun 2009, 23:02:46 BST
[Deleted by the author on 23 Oct 2009, 01:27:49 BST]

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Jun 2009, 01:54:53 BST
Ah! He declined to have his name written there? I wasn't thinking clearly of the significance of having one's 'name' writ on water. Of course, that adds a poignant dimension. It implies an extreme judgement on the value of existence in general, and an extreme state of mind at the time of request.

Indeed Eliot doesn't take long but, quantatively speaking, I have probably read poetry by Eliot more than all other poetry put together. The curious thing is that while I have come to a reasonable academic understanding of what his poetry is about, i.e. what Eliot may have meant by it, after 35 years, as a Hollow Man, who leans with headpiece filled with straw, I am less sure than ever it means anything at all to me other than the sheer musicality of the language.

The cummings (of course, decapitalised) ive got lined up is one which claims to be completely typographically faithful to the originals
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