The Secret Magic of Music

Ida Lichter. Select, $16.95 (368p) ISBN 978-1-59079-305-3
With mixed results, Australian psychiatrist Lichter's essays attempt to explain why music has the potential to enchant, heal, and inspire. Lichter, a longtime devotee of classical music and founder and director of a chamber music festival, provides brief biographies of 24 conductors, instrumentalists, and voices (singers and choirs). This smorgasbord for chamber music aficionados who delight in classical musical quartets and trios may be uninviting for those who only recognize the names of such renowned muscians as Vladimir Ashkenazy and Evgeny Kissin. Sections on collaborative artists, Bach and Beethoven, and music administrators, for example, lead Lichter to mundane conclusions such as "Music is an important part of cultures as a nonverbal language of emotions" and "Today appreciation of music is open to everyone." Her realization that "the creative interface between performer and audience [results in]... a deeply personal, and at times shared, experience of pleasure and excitement" adds little to solving the mystery of why music is an integral part of every life. Kissin's foreword notes that "The popularity of master classes, radio and television programs about music attest to the high level of public interest and the desire for more information." Lichter's well-intentioned footnoted essays are an admirable effort, but they mostly serve to reinforce Kissin's view that "the nature of musical transmission is nonverbal." (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/14/2016
Release date: 02/01/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
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