Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Absolutely on Music

Title: Absolutely on Music
Author: Haruki Murakami
Number of Page: 352
Publisher: Harvil Secker

Haruki Murakami's passions for music runs deep. Before turning his hand to writing, he ran a jazz club in Tokyo, and the aesthetic and emotional power of music permeates every one of his much-loved books.

Now, in Absolutely on Music, Murakami fulfils a personal dream, sitting down with his friend, acclaimed conductor Seiji Ozawa, to talk about their shared interest.

Transcribed from conversations about the nature of music and writing, here they discuss everything from Brahms to Beethoven, from Leonard Bernstein to Glenn Gould, from record-collecting to pop-up orchestras, and much more. Ultimately this book gives readers an unprecedented glimpse into the minds of two maestros.

I received this book from Periplus quite a while ago. I was busy and could not find time to read it. At first, the title intrigued me. I mean it is about music, something that I always love. But, then I realized that it was a nonfiction book. It's not that I hate nonfiction. It's just that I never like one. 

So, this book is an uncorrected proof and not for resale or quotation. Thus, no picture for the cover. The bookworm of me was so excited. It was like getting a special rare book that had not been printed for a long time.

Anyway, this book was about conversations between Haruki Murakami and Seiji Ozawa. Haruki Murakami is a very famous author although I have not read any of his books. On the other hand, I was quite familiar with the name of Seiji Ozawa, but I didn't know that he was actually a conductor.

Absolutely on Music was definitely interesting. It was meant for those who like orchestras, concerts, and classical musics. The topics were fully analyzed, dissected, and discussed in details. The songs, the pieces were listened by both Murakami and Ozawa as they talked about them. I had to say both of them were geniuses, especially Murakami. The way he stated his opinions, described the parts of those musics amazed me. I'm not a detailed person, I surely cannot say lots of things about one piece of music. Then again, I like orchestra but I'm not an orchestra geek like them. It was quite entertaining reading all those long conversations. I might not fully understand them, but I caught an interesting glimpses here and there. The dialogues flowed flawlessly, it was very natural. I finished the book quite fast.

This book gave me a poignant feeling. Maybe it was because Seiji Ozawa still worked despite of his medical conditions. Old age, winter seasons would not stop him doing what he liked and I admired him for that. There were so many experiences, lasting from when the world was not as advanced in technology as today. Time went and it was like looking at my life several years later when the pasts were just memories in my head. Nostalgic and sad. 

There are some misspellings (pg. 64, 89, 208, 243), but since it is an unproof edition, I'm sure there will be another editing. And please change the fonts, haha... I don't know, I just don't like it.

Here I put the quotes that I like from both maestros.

Seiji Ozawa: "Well, I can say that I never struggled with those things from the start. I rarely felt inadequate, and I suspect that's because I had such a good teacher. So then, when I got to observe Lenny or Maestro Karajan conducting close-up, I pretty much understood what they were doing. I could see what they were trying to do. I could look at them analytically. So it never occured to me to mimic their techniques. By contrast, someone who still doesn't have his own technique in place ends up imitating someone else's outward form, just superficially copying another person's movements. That didn't happen with me." (I think people who knows what they're doing, feel confident about it, not copy somebody else's work will eventually achieve what they dream of)

Haruki Murakami: "Yes, but even before that--you have to have a clear image in your mind of exactly what you want to do and how you want to do it. If you're writing fiction, say, it's important to be able to write, of course, but before that you have to have a strong sense in mind of something you are determined to write about. As far as I can tell from your records, at least, you always had a strong self-image from the time you were young. Your music always has a very clear, tight focus. It seems to me that the world is full of musicians who don't or can't do that. I probably shouldn't generalized about all Japanese musicians, but I can't help feeling that while they have a high overall level of technical mastery and can perform music that may be technically flawless, they rarely communicate a distinct worldview. They don't seem to have a strong determination to create their own unique worlds and convey them to people with raw immediacy."

Thank you, Periplus for giving me this book! 


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