10 books for 10 virtuosos
What Every Pianist Needs to Know about the Body is an essential book for any pianist or piano teacher. Though it is no substitute for working with an attentive, sensitive instructor, Thomas Mark's book can help aid body awareness which promotes injury-preventive technique.
The Violin Maker: A Search for the Secrets of Craftsmanship, Sound and Stradivari is an engaging, funny book for string players eager to connect with their instruments. Marchese's book exposes some of the processes involved in the art of violin making.
Eric Siblin, a former pop-music columnist for the Montréal Gazette, unexpectedly fell in love with Bach's cello suites after hearing them in concert at Toronto's Royal Conservatory of Music. His book, The Cello Suites: In Search of a Baroque Masterpiece, weaves together three stories: Bach and his manuscript in the eighteenth century, Pablo Casals' rediscovery of these pieces in the early twentieth century, and Siblin's own quest for understanding.
Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art by Stephen Nachmanovitch is a great book for anyone inspired by the joy of free improvisation. This is an intense read drawing on a wide variety of sources.
Taffanel: Genius of the Flute is a thought-provoking book for flautists. Taffanel, often thought of as the father of the French Flute School, is still an important personality today. Blakeman's biography contextualizes his various leading roles as a flautist, conductor, composer, and teacher.
How Music Works draws on David Byrne's varied experiences while working with the Talking Heads, Brian Eno, and many other collaborators. Byrne's account of his life in music is an encompassing read, taking you into opera houses and African villages.
The Human Nature of the Singing Voice: Exploring a Holistic Basis for Sound Teaching and Learning is a great book for any aspiring vocalist written by an experienced teacher. Peter Harrison has taught at Guildhall and the Royal Academy of Music, as well as workshops around the world.
Written by flautist Barthold Kuijken, one of the pioneers of the historical performance movement of the twentieth century, The Notation is Not the Music: Reflections on Early Music Practice and Performance is an excellent book about performance for anyone interested in early music.
Thomas Forrest Kelly's Capturing Music: The Story of Notation is an important book for any serious musician today. His beautiful volume illuminates how notation and musical practices have evolved together over time.
Performing Music in the Age of Recording explores the how recording technologies have changed musical performance in the twentieth century. Robert Philip explores the authority of recordings made by composers, changing attitudes towards freedom of expression, the global homogenization of performing styles, and many other relevant topics.