What happens when extraordinary creative spirits—musicians, poets, critics, and scholars, as well as an architect, a visual artist, a filmmaker, a scientist, and a legendary Supreme Court justice—are asked to reflect on their favorite music? The result is Ways of Hearing, a diverse collection that explores the ways music shapes us and our shared culture. These acts of musical witness bear fruit through personal essays, conversations and interviews, improvisatory meditations, poetry, and visual art. They sound the depths of a remarkable range of musical genres, including opera, jazz, bluegrass, and concert music both classical and contemporary.
This expansive volume spans styles and subjects, including Pico Iyer’s meditations on Handel, Arnold Steinhardt’s thoughts on Beethoven’s Grosse Fuge, and Laurie Anderson and Edgar Choueiri’s manifesto for spatial music. Richard Powers discusses the one thing about music he’s never told anyone, Daphne Brooks draws sonic connections between Toni Morrison and Cécile McLorin Salvant, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg reveals what she thinks is the sexiest duet in opera. Poems interspersed throughout further expand how we can imagine and respond to music. Ways of Hearing is a book for our times that celebrates the infinite ways music enhances our lives.
Scott Burnham is Distinguished Professor of Music at the Graduate Center, City University of New York, and Scheide Professor of Music History Emeritus at Princeton University. Marna Seltzer is artistic and administrative director of Princeton University Concerts. Dorothea von Moltke is co-owner of Labyrinth Books in Princeton, New Jersey.
"Startling insights on every page."—Henrietta Bredin, Country Life Magazine
"A provocative and beautiful collection of twenty-six often deeply personal essays. . . . The works in Ways of Hearing point to the magic in music . . . its ability to enrich and affirm life, to express depths that words cannot reach, to provide hope and healing, and perhaps most importantly, to connect us to other people, near and far, and to all that exists and moves around us. . . . The volume . . . is a pleasure."—Thomas M. Kitts, Popular Music and Society
"Across the 26 easily digestible essays that span subjects from Olivier Messiaen to Charles Mingus, this book gives the reader a unique insight into the role music plays in the lives of some of the world’s great artists and thinkers.
"—Angus McPherson, Limelight Magazine
“Ways of Hearing features extraordinarily interesting people responding to diverse kinds of music. When the gathering includes the likes of Gustavo Dudamel and the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, how could one not want to read this book and find out what they think?”—Don Michael Randel, University of Chicago
“Music conservatories have a required course called Ear Training that teaches students not to impose affect, narrative, or imagery on the music itself. Counter to this, Ways of Hearing offers testimonies by leading figures in the arts and humanities, eloquently redressing aesthetic reactions stripped away by professional pedagogy. May this volume become required reading for musicians and music lovers alike!”—Susan McClary, author of The Passions of Peter Sellars