José Luis’ Virtual Book Club: Absolutely On Music

by Tucson Symphony
José Luis’ Virtual Book Club: Absolutely On Music

Welcome to your conductor, José Luis Gomez’s, Virtual book club, brought to you by your Tucson Symphony Orchestra.

Below is a book recommended by José Luis, along with his annotations. Please treat this blog as a guide through the chapters. José Luis has also recommended performances related to each chapter!

The book is Absolutely on Music (Conversations with Seiji Ozawa) by Haruki Murakami.

Buy the Book

We want to make this interactive! Please email your questions and comments about the book by June 17. José Luis will use your feedback to create a video about the reading. Watch the discussion June 30 at at 10 a.m. Tucson time, or watch the recording any time afterward:

Watch the Discussion

First Conversation: Mostly on the Beethoven Third Piano Concerto.

Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 3
Columbia Symphony Orchestra
Leonard Bernstein, conductor
Glenn Gould, piano
Movement 1, Allegro con brio

Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Kurt Sanderling, conductor
Mitsuko Uchida, piano
Movement 2, Largo

Second Conversation: Brahms at Carnegie Hall
The last movement goes with the explanation of horn breathing continuity. There is also the technical aspect of music writing that Ozawa explains to Murakami.

Brahms: Symphony No. 1
Boston Symphony Orchestra
Seiji Ozawa, conductor
Movement 4, Adagio – Piu Andante – Allegro non troppo ma con brio

The Berlioz is one the signature pieces in Ozawa’s repertoire.

Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique
Saito Kinen Orchestra
Seiji Ozawa, conductor
Movement 4, Marche au supplice (Allegro non troppo)

Third Conversation: What happened in the 1960s
Ozawa talks to Murakami about his experiences working as the assistant with conductors who were his mentors, such as Karajan and Bernstein. A fascinating chapter of his life!

This chapter relates to my own career experience. Do you have any questions about my work with my mentor Paavo Järvi? I was his assistant at the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra. This position was created specifically for me right after I won the Solti Conducting Competition.

Fourth Conversation: On the Music of Gustav Mahler
The quality of a great ensemble, such as the Boston Symphony Orchestra! He explains how to achieve that.

Mahler: Symphony No. 1
Boston Symphony Orchestra
Seiji Ozawa, conductor
Movement 3, Feierlich und gemessen, ohne zu schleppen

Fifth Conversation: Joys of Opera
A tribute to Mirella Freni, due to the admiration and family-like relationship between Ozawa, Freni, and her late husband Ghiaurov. Freni sadly passed away this past February—one of the most important sopranos of recent times.

Do you have questions about my relationship with opera music? I have been connected to it throughout my career. My fiancée is one of the top rising Italian sopranos of the opera scene. She influences my music. She and the Tucson Symphony Orchestra recently performed together. I hope you were able to see it!

Puccini: La bohème
Vienna State Opera
Mirella Freni, soprano
Act 1, Sì, mi chiamano Mimì”

Sixth Conversation: “There’s no Single Way to Teach. You Make It Up as You Go Along.”
His experience with the Ozawa Academy, as narrated in the book, relates to my own experience growing up in El Sistema in Venezuela. As well as later on, working with youth orchestras, such as Gustav Mahler Juggend Orchestra. Also, we both had the opportunity to work with famous conductors, influencing our own careers.

I look forward to receiving your questions and comments about this special book!

Your Tucson Symphony Orchestra is a core cultural pillar in Southern Arizona. Every year the TSO invests up to $600,000 back into the community through seven education programs, serving Pima, Pinal, Santa Cruz, and Cochise Counties. These programs include the Young Composers Project.

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