Wednesday, February 01, 2017

The Redemptive Power of Music

I sometimes feel that much of what I read about the therapeutic power of music is a mass of well-meaning but glib generalisations. But I have just finished ‘Instrumental’, a book about how the love and performance of music literally saved someone’s life. The British concert pianist James Rhodes suffered a childhood and youth full of unimaginable, yet all too real horror: this and its terrible aftermath are described in prose that will sometimes shock you to the core because Rhodes spares his readers as little as he spares himself. His short biographies of his favourite musicians are sometimes brilliant, sometimes annoying and, too often, his relentless, foulmouthed style vitiates the emotion – he certainly ignores that axiom that less is always more – but if you have any interest or belief in the redemptive power of music I urge you to read this book.