A novel ap­proach

BBC Music Magazine - - Composers In Novels -

Books by com­posers It was re­ally dur­ing the Ro­man­tic era that words and mu­sic be­came more closely in­ter­twined and that com­posers started to dab­ble with writ­ing books. Schu­mann penned crit­i­cism and Wag­ner wrote his li­bret­tos, but it was Liszt who wrote a biog­ra­phy, of his fel­low pi­anist-com­poser Frédéric Chopin. Mean­while Ber­lioz, who adored Shakespeare, wrote the un­usual Evenings with Orches­tra, short sto­ries min­gled with sketches and re­views as he imag­ines the chat­ter of a Parisian orches­tra. Beetween 1919 and 1940, Smyth turned her back on mu­sic and wrote ten works of non-fic­tion. Vir­gina Woolf, no less, urged her on, writ­ing ‘I was think­ing the other night that there’s never been a woman’s au­to­bi­og­ra­phy… now why shouldn’t you be the first to tell the truths about her­self?’

Fast for­ward to 2017, and Stephen Hough be­came a pub­lished nov­el­ist as well as a pi­anist and com­poser. His no-holds-barred The Fi­nal Retreat, was given five stars by our critic Claire Jack­son. And com­poser Kerry An­drew joined the de­but nov­el­ist ranks when her novel Swan­song came out ear­lier this year.

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