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ABSOLUTELY ON MUSIC BY MURAKAMI & OZAWA

PUBLISHED BY PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE
REVIEW BY KRISTY KYI

Absolutely On Music is essentially a transcript of conversations between author Haruki Murakami and renowned conductor Seiji Ozawa. The book is split into chapters with fascinating titles like “On Manic Record Collectors”, “The Relationship of Writing to Music” and “What Happened in the 1960s”.

The idea of the book came about when Ozawa, who was ill and had been forced to take time out from his beloved profession began talking to Murakami, an author with a deep love for music, who he’d met through his daughter. As Murakami says in the Introduction, “To have Seiji Ozawa ill with cancer was a heart-wrenching development for the music world, for me personally, and of course for him; but that it gave rise to this time for the two of us to sit and have long, good talks about music may be one of those silver linings that are not in fact to be found in every cloud.”

As someone who is a fan of music but not necessarily classical music, I was unsure as to how much I would get out of this book but I was pleasantly surprised.  The conversations between the author and subject are filled with interesting information about the workings of an orchestra (including revelations of a surprising amount of politics), stories which reveal the level of Ozawa’s talent and ambition, and general reflections on creativity, art and life.

The discussions about specific classical pieces would have more significance to someone with a good knowledge of classical music, but I still found these interesting in their depth and the perceptiveness with which both the author and the subject analyse the playing of the same piece by different orchestras and under the influence of different conductors. This book will appeal not only to those who love music, but also to those who appreciate the intrinsic link between life and art. 

Find this novel in store at Planet Books. Ask the friendly staff for guidance too, and they’ll be more than happy to order you in a copy if it’s already sold out.