About THE LIFE OF MUSIC

“A typically wise and thoughtful book, which manages to combine a wealth of unexpected information with an immensely readable style  – it should grab anybody, whatever their level of musical knowledge.”
Sir Simon Rattle, London Symphony Orchestra

Immersed in music as writer, editor, broadcaster and former director of the BBC Proms, Nicholas Kenyon has long championed composers and performers who widen the repertory and expand our listening. Today, as we think about culture in new ways, Kenyon revisits the narratives that make up the classical tradition and looks at that music through the experience of actual performances. A knowledgeable and enthusiastic guide, The Life of Music highlights the achievements of composers and players, amateurs and professionals – all those who bring music to life across the ages.

From pianist Myra Hess’s performances in Blitz-ravaged London to John Adams’s composition for mourners of New York’s 9/11 attacks to Italian opera stars singing from their balconies amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, Kenyon argues that, no matter how great the crisis, music has the power to bring us together.

The Life of Music: New Adventures in the Western Classical Tradition

Hardback and eBook, 360 pages and 64 colour illustrations

RRP: UK £18.99 / US $27.50

Release dates: World, excluding US – 27th April 2021 / US – 25th May 2021

Available wherever books are sold in the UK, including:

Available wherever books are sold in the US, including:

About the Author

Nicholas Kenyon is Managing Director of London’s Barbican Centre, and was Director of the BBC Proms and Controller of BBC Radio 3. He was a music critic for The Times, the Observer and the New Yorker, edited the journal Early Music, and is an author and frequent broadcaster.

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Sample the Playlist

To accompany The Life of Music, Nicholas Kenyon has recommended a playlist of 100 great works by 100 great composers in 100 great performances which can be found on Spotify. Search for ‘The Life of Music – Nicholas Kenyon’.

A sample of performances from this playlist is free to access and enjoy on YouTube without a subscription here. Click ‘watch on on YouTube’ to access the full list.

Praise for THE LIFE OF MUSIC

“A typically wise and thoughtful book, which manages to combine a wealth of unexpected information with an immensely readable style — it should grab anybody, whatever their level of musical knowledge.”

Sir Simon Rattle, LSO

 

“What better moment to ponder the question of where music has been, where it might be headed and the existential issue of what meaning it may hold? The Life of Music ponders these questions with wit and a depth of information.”

Deborah Borda, president and CEO, New York Philharmonic Orchestra

 

“Nicholas Kenyon brings a lifetime of listening and wisdom to his encyclopaedic survey of the Western classical music canon. In a narrative of breadth and critical acumen, The Life of Music traverses a millennium of music making with stopping points along the way to ponder its past, present and future.”

John Adams, composer 

“As critic, author, broadcaster, and administrator, Nicholas Kenyon has seen the art and life of music from every possible angle, and the breadth of his experience is evident on every page of this hugely absorbing volume. He also brings to bear keen insight, an aversion to dogma, and a wisdom steeped in humility. Classical music has a tendency toward grandiose rhetoric: Kenyon unfurls the entire monumental story in unwaveringly human terms.”

Alex Ross, author of The Rest is Noise

“Nick Kenyon takes us to the very heart and soul of music, by surveying the past, he gives us hope for the future.”

Gustavo Dudamel, Los Angeles Philharmonic

£2 from the sale of each book in the UK will go to the charity Help Musicians, an independent UK charity for professional musicians of all genres, from starting out through to retirement. Find out more about the charity at www.helpmusicians.org.uk