Absolutely on Music:  Conversations with Seiji Ozawa, Haruki Murakami, 2016

Another very fascinating book best read next to your computer so you can You Tube the specific versions of the various musical pieces discussed by this world class conductor and this world class novelist.  Murakami, a 67 year old Japanese writer whose books are best sellers around the world and most recently honored with the Jerusalem Prize, is also a fervent music lover, jazz as well as classical.  He is obviously very knowledgeable and had prepared deeply for these conversations with Ozawa, now an 81 year old senior eminence.  Through a series of conversations in Paris, New York, and Japan, these two discuss conducting, composing, how the same piece of music conducted by the same person can change over time, the music festivals and workshops that Ozawa has organized in Japan (Matsumoto) and in Switzerland (Rolle), and the important mentors in Ozawa’s career—-Karajan, Bernstein, and others.  Opera, string quartets, symphonic works by Beethoven, Brahms, Berlioz, and Mahler are discussed at length.  One result is a long list of works to listen to through the lens of their conversations:  Symphony Fantastique, Beethoven’s third piano concerto, Brahms First Symphony, Mozart’s String Quartet #15, Mahler’s First Symphony, La Boheme with Mirella Freni, Haydn String Quartet #75, Smetana’s String Quartet #1, Ravel’s String Quartet in F major,Schubert’s String Quartet #13, and Beethoven’s string quartets #6 and 13.  Fascinating and engaging through all of its 320 pages!