Books are your friends

As it gets darker and colder, you might have more time to settle down with books related to classical music. These are some gems I've enjoyed. I'd like to hear about your favs, too.

1. The Time of our Singing by Richard Powers.

The story begins in 1939, when Jewish refugee David Strom meets and falls in love with Delia Daley, a black singer from Philadelphia. They marry, despite the fact that interracial couples are openly harassed. The Stroms decide to raise their children beyond the concept of race. Their two sons become classical musicians, blithely unaware of what it means to be black in America. Their lives intersect with the race riots of the 1960s. In one chapter, the kids go to hear a concert at The Cloisters in NYC, and the description of the concert is some of the best writing about music I’ve ever encountered. You might find this 2003 novel absorbing and, at times, painful.

2. Magic Flutes by Eva Ibbotson

You might find the heroine a bit saccharine, but if you’ve ever been bit by the Mozart bug, you’ll appreciate the author’s descriptions of the effects music has on people. I own copy of this light, poignant bon bon of a novel that’s part romance, part fairy tale, and at times, hilarious. Published in 1982, it’s pretty hard to get. First editions go for hundreds of dollars. People who love this book LOVE this book.

3. The Glorious Ones - or The Virtuosi: Classical Music's Great Performers From Paganini To Pavarotti (same book in hard cover or paperback) by Harold C. Schonberg

I borrowed this 1988 non-fiction book from my friend Gerry Szymanski, read it over and over until it was dogged-eared, and then was too embarrassed by its condition to give it back. The author, a music critic for the New York Times, was the first person to win the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism. It’s a collection of profiles of classical musicians giving depth and fascinating details about their foibles and personalities. I especially liked his frank examinations at money and the classical music business.