Friday, August 11, 2006

Back at it!

Had a great time away--Bruckner 7th with the Grant Park Symphony, the Field Museum and the Art Institute of Chicago.

Like many of you, summer is my opportunity for more reading or at least different reading than at other times of the year. While away I read Noah Adams' Piano Lessons for the first time, lots of fun. This gave me an interesting look inside the mind and motivations of someone coming to the instrument without any agenda other than playing for themselves.

Later, I read Anthony Storr's Music and the Mind (1993). This set of thoughtful essays traverses a dizzying range of material from the anatomy and neuroscience of human hearing to a quite exacting parsing out of Freud, Jung and most of German philosophy from Schopenhauer to Nietzsche. While not exactly light reading, there is much food for thought here. In particular it was interesting to read a psychiatrist's analysis of why humans make music and why listening for aesthetic pleasure is so deeply important to so many of us.

Storr's earlier book, Solitude: a Return to the Self (1989) was an absolute revelation. With so much of a pianist's time spent alone in confined spaces with only his instrument for company, Storr's exploration of the ways solitude operates in human experience is absolutely enlightening.

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