DESKTOP
TABLET (max. 1024px)
MOBILE (max. 640px)
Return to Top
Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

GUIDE | A Musical Reading List For The Victoria Day Long Weekend

By Robin Roger on May 14, 2020

Victoria Weekend reading guide

If Franz Kafka had ever encountered an Ontario black fly or mosquito, he might not have stated, “we ought to read only books that bite and sting us.” Instead, he might have suggested that we stay indoors, free from pests, including viruses. Given that we’re still in lockdown, albeit slightly loosened, and most of us won’t be battling cottage country traffic jams, washing off outdoor furniture or staining the dock, there’s more time to read this long weekend and possibly every long weekend this summer.

With that in mind, prior to the Victoria Day Weekend and every other long weekend for the rest of the summer, we’ll recommend a few of our favourite books on music. Sitting down with a book helps us cope with social distancing; it’s a good time to take advantage of the moment and really immerse yourself.

‘The Unanswered Question: Six Talks at Harvard’ by Leonard Bernstein

Before the term public intellectual existed, Bernstein was a consummate example of one. These lectures, which can be read in tandem with videos of them now on YouTube, give us a Chomsky-inflected Bernstein making the case for understanding music as a language. That this theory has been superseded by strides in neuroscience since 1973 makes his intellectual elegance, lucidity and accessible explanations of music theory, not to mention his fiendishly telegenic aplomb no less satisfying.

‘On and Off the Record with Leonard Bernstein: My Years with the Exasperating Genius’ by Charlie Harmon

After you’ve seen Bernstein at his most iconic, this is a chance to meet the man and the wreckage he generated. Charlie Harmon is the unsung hero who kept Bernstein going when he was on the prolonged edge of collapse for four years in the 80s. The price Harmon paid for his subsequent career as the cataloguer of the Bernstein Collection at the Library of Congress and his musical editor was a nervous breakdown. Whether it took until 2018 for Harmon to recover fully enough to put his experiences in print, or whether he timed it to coincide with the Bernstein Centenary, the portrait is essential for being one that only he could offer.

‘This is Your Brain on Music’ by Daniel Levitan

We all know that we love music, but few of us know how essential music is to our brains and how essentially musical our brains are. Levitan explains what happens in our brains during musical experience and makes it clear how inextricable music is from human life.

‘Chamber Music’ by Doris Grumbach

Reticence, a trait that is in short supply in today’s culture, gives the narrator of this completely absorbing novel a truly original voice. Based loosely on the lives of the American composer Edward MacDowell and his wife Marian, the story has the compelling draw of a whispered secret as it reveals the hidden sexual lives of the men and women navigating the musical and social vicissitudes of the late 19th and early 20th century. Doris Grumbach, now 102, was born in 1918, so conveys the restraint and restriction of that era with great authority.

‘Two-Part Inventions’ by Lynne Sharon Schwartz

The double meaning of the title of this novel refers to the composition and the fraudulent recordings created by recording engineer William Barrington-Coupe in the name of his pianist wife, Joyce Hatto, in which he substituted the playing of other pianists. Though inspired by a fraud, the novel provides a highly credible rendition of the specific experience of elite musical training in the 70s and 80s as well as the timeless experience of stage fright and the embattled sense of self that prodigies endure when grown-ups pressure them to be special.

#LUDWIGVAN

Want more updates on classical music and opera news and reviews? Follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter for all the latest.

Robin Roger

Robin Roger is a psychotherapist who emphasizes the importance of learning new things as part of developing and maintaining mental wellness.She is a committed amateur pianist as well as a writer, book reviewer and frequent contributor to Ludwig Van.
Robin Roger

Robin Roger

Robin Roger is a psychotherapist who emphasizes the importance of learning new things as part of developing and maintaining mental wellness.She is a committed amateur pianist as well as a writer, book reviewer and frequent contributor to Ludwig Van.
Robin Roger
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_high_590x300
comments powered by Disqus

Ludwig Van Toronto

CRITIC'S PICKS | Virtual Concerts You Absolutely Need To See This Week

By Joseph So on July 6, 2020

Classical music and opera events streaming on the web for the week of July 6 – 12.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_high_590x300

THE SCOOP | Ensemble Made In Canada Welcomes New Cello

By Michael Vincent on June 19, 2020

Ensemble Made in Canada (EMIC) has named cellist Trey Lee as a full member.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article

REPORT | Jonas Kaufmann Affirms His Status As The Otello Of The 21C With New Recording

By Joseph So on June 15, 2020

Joseph So reports on a webinar hosted by Sony Classical, and featuring tenor Jonas Kaufmann and Maestro Antonio Pappano to talk about their new recording of Verdi's Otello.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_low_590x300
lv_toronto_ssb_atf_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_high_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_mid_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_low_300x300
lv_toronto_tsb_high_300x700
lv_toronto_tsb_low_300x700
lv_toronto_ssb_atf_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_high_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_mid_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_low_300x300
lv_toronto_tsb_high_300x700
lv_toronto_tsb_low_300x700

We have detected that you are using an adblocking plugin in your browser.

The revenue we earn by the advertisements is used to manage this website. Please whitelist our website in your adblocking plugin.