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Music Quickens Time

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In this powerful new book, Daniel Barenboim draws on his profound and uniquely influential engagement with music to argue for its central importance in our everyday lives. While we may sometimes think of personal, social and political issues as existing independently of each other, Barenboim shows how music teaches that this is impossible. Drawing on his own involvement In this powerful new book, Daniel Barenboim draws on his profound and uniquely influential engagement with music to argue for its central importance in our everyday lives. While we may sometimes think of personal, social and political issues as existing independently of each other, Barenboim shows how music teaches that this is impossible. Drawing on his own involvement with Palestine, he examines the transformative power of music in the world, from his own performances of Wagner in Israel to his foundation, with Edward Said, of the internationally acclaimed West-Eastern Divan Orchestra. Music Quickens Time reveals how the sheer power and eloquence of music offers us a way to explore and shed light on how we live, and to illuminate and resolve some of the most intractable issues of our time.


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In this powerful new book, Daniel Barenboim draws on his profound and uniquely influential engagement with music to argue for its central importance in our everyday lives. While we may sometimes think of personal, social and political issues as existing independently of each other, Barenboim shows how music teaches that this is impossible. Drawing on his own involvement In this powerful new book, Daniel Barenboim draws on his profound and uniquely influential engagement with music to argue for its central importance in our everyday lives. While we may sometimes think of personal, social and political issues as existing independently of each other, Barenboim shows how music teaches that this is impossible. Drawing on his own involvement with Palestine, he examines the transformative power of music in the world, from his own performances of Wagner in Israel to his foundation, with Edward Said, of the internationally acclaimed West-Eastern Divan Orchestra. Music Quickens Time reveals how the sheer power and eloquence of music offers us a way to explore and shed light on how we live, and to illuminate and resolve some of the most intractable issues of our time.

30 review for Music Quickens Time

  1. 4 out of 5

    Yuval

    Barenboim is a true genius and one of my heroes, but I don't know if Verso did very well putting together a sampling of his writing: the book is strangely organized and repeats itself a LOT (a late chapter on the West-East Divan Orchestra is basically a verbatim recount of what he talks about in the first half of the book). Great insight throughout, but anyone interested would do better to read PARALLELS AND PARADOXES, his book with Edward Said. On a pickier note: this is the second Barenboim is a true genius and one of my heroes, but I don't know if Verso did very well putting together a sampling of his writing: the book is strangely organized and repeats itself a LOT (a late chapter on the West-East Divan Orchestra is basically a verbatim recount of what he talks about in the first half of the book). Great insight throughout, but anyone interested would do better to read PARALLELS AND PARADOXES, his book with Edward Said. On a pickier note: this is the second music/philosophy book I've read published by Verso that is rife with errors, both grammatical and factual. My high school teachers would have automatically given this an F.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    I am a little worried that this dude thinks that he could fart and it would sound like Vivaldi. He's obviously smart, but he could probably remove the stick from his butt. So that the Vivaldi farts could escape.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Redwood

    I approached this book with great anticipation. The reviews I had read primed me to expect a text of deep philosophical insights borne of parallels between music and life at large, from one of the great musicians of our time. Well, yes, it was sort of philosophical in the sense that many people of a thinking and reflective bent are, but some of the perspectives were more a statement of beliefs than a result of robust logical argument. And parallels between music and life were laced throughout, I approached this book with great anticipation. The reviews I had read primed me to expect a text of deep philosophical insights borne of parallels between music and life at large, from one of the great musicians of our time. Well, yes, it was sort of philosophical in the sense that many people of a thinking and reflective bent are, but some of the perspectives were more a statement of beliefs than a result of robust logical argument. And parallels between music and life were laced throughout, but at times Barenboim seemed to forget the metaphorical structure when he launched into a topic he had plenty to say about. Also, given that music provides such a rich environment on which to draw and you could find a parallel between practically anything in life and some aspect of music, I found the metaphor a little clunky and not particularly enlightening. The book was strongest in describing his admirably balanced perspective on the Israeli/ Palestinian problem and it's impossible not to be impressed by his commitment to the cause of peace in the Middle East and to admire the courage with which he has pursued his convictions over the years. A clearer focus on that issue, without the embellishments of musical metaphor may have provided a more concise and impressive text.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Yoyo

    "In music, nothing is independent. It requires a perfect balance between intellect, emotion, and temperament. I would go so far as to argue that if this equilibrium were reached, human beings and even nations would be able to interact with each other with greater ease. Through music it is possible to imagine an alternative social model, where Utopia and practicality join forces, allowing us to express ourselves freely and hear each other's preoccupations." A powerful interdisciplinary approach to "In music, nothing is independent. It requires a perfect balance between intellect, emotion, and temperament. I would go so far as to argue that if this equilibrium were reached, human beings and even nations would be able to interact with each other with greater ease. Through music it is possible to imagine an alternative social model, where Utopia and practicality join forces, allowing us to express ourselves freely and hear each other's preoccupations." A powerful interdisciplinary approach to understanding societies' past, present, and future. In the chaos of politics and social changes, music is a weapon and a language that brings together humans regardless of their origins.

  5. 4 out of 5

    David Houliston

    Also titled “Everything is Connected”. A compilation of his writings. He would like to see a change of heart in Jews living in Israel.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jeng Suan Tan

    Really enjoyed reading this (got it as a gift from my teacher!). Indeed, everything is connected.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ciaran

    Exceptional writing, absolutely sublime.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Mansoor Nazeer

    Combine it with his Beethoven masterclasses and you have a universe opening up before you, quasi una fantsia.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Persephone Abbott

    The author’s name in the cover is printed larger than the title of the book. Granted, Mr. Barenboim’s intellect is capable of overriding any one statement, such as “Everything is Connected,” however he rarely dares come to a rounded conclusion, in manner of a true sonata form or the sequence of an essay by Mr. Montaigne and if he did I wonder what danger he might uncover. Reading the comments on music, I enjoyed many his descriptions of music, and obviously he has much to say given his The author’s name in the cover is printed larger than the title of the book. Granted, Mr. Barenboim’s intellect is capable of overriding any one statement, such as “Everything is Connected,” however he rarely dares come to a rounded conclusion, in manner of a true sonata form or the sequence of an essay by Mr. Montaigne and if he did I wonder what danger he might uncover. Reading the comments on music, I enjoyed many his descriptions of music, and obviously he has much to say given his extraordinary capacities. Ah, now a propos his superior mental agility, who is this book written for? I couldn’t quite tell. Barenboim states that at 13 he was given Spinoza’s “Ethics” to read. I was not. Instead I was treated to a slew of above average romance novels as a concerned friend of my parents, worried about the state of my underdeveloped affections, undertook it to educate me in the gentle tedium of routinely plotted love. I dutifully read the one set in Wales, and the one about Australia, and the hundred others I read and returned with a polite thank you and required summary or book report. Not one of these items was set in Palestine. I have never read a romance novel since this somewhat monotonous period, but Mr. Barenboim assures his readers that his copy of Spinoza’s “Ethics” is quite dog eared, and upon his suggestion I decided to look into the oeuvre.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ian Murray-Watson

    Disappointing, and in general, rather stolid and unimaginative. Be prepared for more about politics than music. Barenboim's analysis of the Middle East situation will make a lot of sense to many people, but unfortunately I bought the book expecting to read about music, so skipped most of the political stuff. Must of what is written about music, though interesting, is hardly original and will be completely meaningless to the layman. I mean - do you happen to know off hand what the bass line in Disappointing, and in general, rather stolid and unimaginative. Be prepared for more about politics than music. Barenboim's analysis of the Middle East situation will make a lot of sense to many people, but unfortunately I bought the book expecting to read about music, so skipped most of the political stuff. Must of what is written about music, though interesting, is hardly original and will be completely meaningless to the layman. I mean - do you happen to know off hand what the bass line in Bach's C# Minor Prelude (Bk 1) does? Do you care? As a musician I do, as it happens, but I seriously doubt it means a lot to most people. Again, the kind of analysis that draws conclusions from the fact that a string quartet (say) is a unity of different voices all of which are important to the complete work, is hardly original, and has always seemed to me to be very contrived when it is applied to society. On a more fundamental level, Barenboim seems, wrongly in my view, to regard music as bounded by Time. Nowhere is there any acknowledgement of modern ideas about Time, such that it may even be an illusion. Where does that leave music? How about starting from a completely opposite position, and say that music (and sound) defines Time, and see where that takes you?

  11. 4 out of 5

    John

    Barenboim knows what he's talking about. I especially enjoyed his discussion of how silence is part of music, as well as his interview on Mozart, where he takes to task "authentic performance practice." He also understands Wagner at least as well as any other conductor alive (including his friend Pierre Boulez); although he discusses Wagner only sporadically here, he makes an especially apt point about why Wagner's stage directions at the beginning of his operas are so important. His discussion Barenboim knows what he's talking about. I especially enjoyed his discussion of how silence is part of music, as well as his interview on Mozart, where he takes to task "authentic performance practice." He also understands Wagner at least as well as any other conductor alive (including his friend Pierre Boulez); although he discusses Wagner only sporadically here, he makes an especially apt point about why Wagner's stage directions at the beginning of his operas are so important. His discussion of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra and his remembrances of his friend Edward Said are worthy, and while his comments on the Israeli/Palestinian situation are simple, they remain true, and he stands as a singularly courageous figure in Israeli society. I am less convinced by Barenboim's use of music as a "lesson for life," though his arguments here are a welcome "bending of the stick" against Oscar Wilde's famous assertion that "all Art is quite useless." If the book has any drawback it is the less-than-stellar editing, which leads to some unnecessary repetition.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kate Gould

    In 1999, Daniel Barenboim and Edward Said set up the West-Eastern Divan Project, enabling young Middle Eastern musicians to work together. Now, in a collection of essays and articles that is part manifesto, part memoir, and part discourse, Barenboim discusses the place of music both in the lives of individuals and as a global phenomenon. He transports music from notes and the orchestra pit to its repercussive effects and potential as an instrument in the peace process. The book is, in parts, a In 1999, Daniel Barenboim and Edward Said set up the West-Eastern Divan Project, enabling young Middle Eastern musicians to work together. Now, in a collection of essays and articles that is part manifesto, part memoir, and part discourse, Barenboim discusses the place of music both in the lives of individuals and as a global phenomenon. He transports music from notes and the orchestra pit to its repercussive effects and potential as an instrument in the peace process. The book is, in parts, a little dense, but it is worth sticking with Barenboim’s sometimes excursive style for the ingenuity and freshness of his approach. His vision for peace in the Middle East is pragmatic, courageous, and controversial, though sadly, unlikely to come to fruition in the current political climate. Nevertheless, for the insights Barenboim presents and his own personal tale, the book is very much worth reading.

  13. 5 out of 5

    James Stephenson

    Despite the great respect I have for Barenboim as a musician and humanitarian, I can't get past the patronising and dogmatic tone of much of this book, especially the early parts. I realise in hindsight that I should have read 'Parallels and Paradoxes' (Barenboim's book with Edward Said on the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra) first, since 'Everything is Connected' repeatedly drifts from the abstract and philosophical to specific examples from that landmark project - a shame, because it renders the Despite the great respect I have for Barenboim as a musician and humanitarian, I can't get past the patronising and dogmatic tone of much of this book, especially the early parts. I realise in hindsight that I should have read 'Parallels and Paradoxes' (Barenboim's book with Edward Said on the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra) first, since 'Everything is Connected' repeatedly drifts from the abstract and philosophical to specific examples from that landmark project - a shame, because it renders the book one-dimensional at times. I don't want to be entirely critical; though I profoundly disagree with much of Barenboim's rather idealistic take on the philosophy of music, I was intruiged to gain an insight into the mind of such a remarkable artist. I also took a great deal from the few monographs in the second half of the book, especially the article on Pierre Boulez. But all in all, a bit of a disapponiting read.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Evan

    Daniel Barenboim could write about his dippy eggs and it'd be interesting. But that doesn't mean he should. Here's a book made up of two sides of entirely different coins. Side one: a semi-structured musing on the ways music as an art form affect us, and how we could engage. Side two: a whistle stop tour through the practical, political and ethical minefield that is the the West-East Divan Orchestra. They are, one suspects, meant to be related – the metaphysical manifested in the intensely Daniel Barenboim could write about his dippy eggs and it'd be interesting. But that doesn't mean he should. Here's a book made up of two sides of entirely different coins. Side one: a semi-structured musing on the ways music as an art form affect us, and how we could engage. Side two: a whistle stop tour through the practical, political and ethical minefield that is the the West-East Divan Orchestra. They are, one suspects, meant to be related – the metaphysical manifested in the intensely political production of intensely apolitical art. But it's a conceit that never really coheres. Still, disjointed jottings from a prodigy whose stamps sits on the recording, performing and critical industries are rarely boring or unenlightening.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Katrina Becker

    Ok, very much mixed reactions to this book. For the most part, I absolutely loved it far more than I thought I would- beautiful writing, and clearly a brilliant, kind, and passionate mind. That said, I really know nothing of music at all, more's the pity. So, the first 3 chapters, with their copious classical music references & music terms were pretty much lost on me, as were much of the content on his essays about various music personas. Still though, brilliant, and overall a pleasure to Ok, very much mixed reactions to this book. For the most part, I absolutely loved it far more than I thought I would- beautiful writing, and clearly a brilliant, kind, and passionate mind. That said, I really know nothing of music at all, more's the pity. So, the first 3 chapters, with their copious classical music references & music terms were pretty much lost on me, as were much of the content on his essays about various music personas. Still though, brilliant, and overall a pleasure to read. Made me want to learn a whole lot more about music too.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jack Laschenski

    Daniel is the greatest musician alive today!! He has no competition!! Pianist (the greatest interpreter of Beethoven), conductor, and founder of the East West Divan Orchestra - Israeli and Arab kids playing classical music together! I revere him without qualification. This is a book of meditations (delivered as the Norton Lectures at Harvard in 2006)on music, life, Israel and Palestine. A deep man.

  17. 5 out of 5

    José Luis

    The musician Daniel Barenboim, worldly recognized, tells us his experience on trying to achieve some peace between jews and palestines, through an orchestra whose members are from both sides. Music feeds the soul. I wrote something about this on my blog, sorry it is in portuguese, fortunately can be easily translated to any language. https://zeluisbraga.wordpress.com/200...

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

    An immensely profound and wide-ranging book, ranging in its discussions from Schumann as a radical mind to anecdotes from the Western Divan Orchestra, from cultural understanding of Mozart to Israeli-Palestinian relations. Barenboim emphasizes above all that music brings all of the elements of humanity together. Musicians, artists, and performers who read this books will be happy to meet a very old friend; politicians and social activists who read it will be surprised to find a common ally.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Wackedout

    It was insightful to glimpse the musical mind of such a seasoned conductor and it really helped sparked some new thoughts in my personal musical understanding and learning. I wish there was more focus on musical interpretation and ideas in the book, but also appreciate the passion with which Daniel Barenboim and Edward Said have for their cause. I am inspired to read the earlier book they co-wrote.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Garth Johnson

    I really enjoyed some parts of this but not others. The writing about music is first rate but I find the political sections difficult. I greatly admire Barenboim's attitude to the Palestinian problem but I'm unsure about his musical analogies. He is an idealist and that is great but I'm not sure of the real influence of his East West orchestra initiative outside the actual players.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ana Hernandez

    This is largely the story of his work with Edward Said in Palestine and Israel, the formation of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, and the power of music to bring us together to explore how we live in community, as well as music's power to help us navigate the seemingly intractable issues we face as a species.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    I found it an interesting book, partly because I learnt more about music but also because cooperation without words but with language always brings people closer. Music, art and sport are perhaps what should be precursors to any political discussions. The formation of the Orchestra by amazing people is worth reading about

  23. 5 out of 5

    Scott

    This wasn't the most well-edited book I've ever read, but Barenboim is certainly at the top of his game, both musically and intellectually. A lot of what he has to say about music, music education, and politics (among many other more and less specific topics) is highly pertinent and should be more widely recognized.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    It was fascinating to read about the Israel/Palestine conflict from the viewpoint of this world-renowned conductor and pianist. He brought to light how music is able to transcend the political differences and allow a Palestinian and an Israeli to find friendship in their mutual love of music.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    An interesting book that goes as much into the author's vision re: the Israel/Palestine situation as it does music. I enjoyed it very much.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Peter

    Some very interesting ideas from a very thoughtful and intelligent man. Got a bit muddled and philosophical at times, but overall a cool quick read for fans of this pianist/composer.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    Worth owning if only for the opening chapter: "Sound and Thought". All of Barenboim's interpretive genius as a performer and conductor seems to articulates itself in this deeply thought-out essay.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Cornflower

    It gets only four stars because I'd like it to have been longer. More thoughts here: http://cornflower.typepad.com/domesti...

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ted Moisan

    Meh.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Zé Santos

    Changes my perception of what is music and what you can achieve with it. It also talks about the middle east conflict from a very neutral perspective.

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