Last year, Paul Elie, in Reinventing Bach, placed the German composer in a 20th-century light. This year English composer John Eliot Gardiner looks at Bach’s work through his own interpretations in Music in the Castle of Heaven: A Portrait of Johann Sebastian Bach. Gardiner takes a technical look at the structure of Bach’s pieces, as well as how Bach composed.

But Gardiner’s is just one of several histories of classical music this season—on Mozart and Mussorgsky, to name a few. English scholar and musician John Suchet turns his focus on a great German composer, and his battle to create music while going deaf, in Beethoven: The Man Revealed.

Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian, detours from his career and finds himself consumed by his hobby, that is learning Chopin’s beautiful Ballade No. 1 in G minor. He recounts a year of practice in Play It Again: An Amateur Against the Impossible. Meanwhile, a great, tough violin instructor, “Mr. K,” is the subject of Strings Attached: One Tough Teacher and the Gift of Great Expectations. It’s written by journalist Joanne Lipman, Mr. K’s former student, and his daughter Melanie Kupchynsky, a violinist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Hyperion is banking on wide appeal for this inspirational book, with a 150,000-copy first printing.

Jazz, another category that usually sees no shortage of titles, is proving to be particularly rich this season with, among several others, Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington by music writer Terry Teachout, author of Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong.

There’s rarely a dearth of singer-songwriter memoirs from the 1970s, and Graham Nash, coming on the heels of last year’s Waging Heavy Peace by one-time band member Neil Young, tells his story of Crosby, Still, Nash & Young and its origins in 1970s California, in Wild Tales: A Rock & Roll Life. Slightly earlier in Southern California, Linda Ronstandt began recording her folk and country rock hits, and in Simple Dreams: A Musical Memoir, she tells of her beginnings in Tucson, Ariz., and her first solo record Hand Sown... Home Grown. Meanwhile, in the same decade but across the country in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y., the band Steely Dan was formed by Walter Becker and Donald Fagan. In Eminent Hipsters, Fagan looks at his life in music through the prism of other artists who influenced him.

Robert Hilburn, who has written on John Lennon, Elton John, and Bruce Springsteen, now tells what Little, Brown is calling the definitive story of the great country music singer in Johnny Cash: The Life.

Finally, in a somewhat macabre subject, Howard Sounes, author of Down the Highway: The Life of Bob Dylan, draws connections to famous pop musicians who died at age 27 in 27: A History of the 27 Club Through the Lives of Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, and Amy Winehouse, which Da Capo is getting behind with a 30,000 print run.

The last couple of years we’ve seen a parade of memoirs by aging rockers—Keith Richards, Stephen Tyler, Rod Stewart, Patti Smith. But this season is looking quieter in terms of rock ’n’ roll.

PW’s Top 10: Music

Music in the Castle of Heaven: A Portrait of Johann Sebastian Bach. John Eliot Gardiner. Knopf, Oct. 29.

Beethoven: The Man Revealed. John Suchet. Grove/Atlantic, Dec. 10.

Play It Again: An Amateur Against the Impossible. Alan Rusbridger. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Sept. 17.

Strings Attached: One Tough Teacher and the Gift of Great Expectations. Melanie Kupchynsky and Joanne Lipman. Hyperion, Oct. 1.

Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington. Terry Teachout. Gotham, Oct. 17.

Wild Tales: A Rock & Roll Life. Graham Nash. Crown Archetype, Sept. 24.

Simple Dreams: A Musical Memoir. Linda Ronstadt. Simon & Schuster, Sept. 17.

Johnny Cash: The Life. Robert Hilburn. Little, Brown, Nov. 5.

Eminent Hipsters. Donald Fagen. Viking, Oct. 22.

27: A History of the 27 Club Through the Lives of Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, and Amy Winehouse. Howard Sounes. Da Capo, Nov. 12.

Music Listings


The Most Beautiful Opera Houses in the World by Guillaume de Laubier and Antoine Pecqueur (Oct. 1, hardcover, $60, ISBN 978-1419709616). A lavish visual exploration of more than 25 of the world’s most beautiful opera houses.

Glam Rock: Dandies in the Underworld by Alwyn W. Turner (Oct. 7, hardcover, $40, ISBN 978-1851777648). A timely look at the rise of glam rock in the 1970s, bringing a sensational period to life.

Algonquin Books

The Beatles Are Here!: 50 Years After the Band Arrived in America, Writers and Other Fans Remember by Penelope Rowlands (Jan. 31, paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1616203504). With essays from Alec Baldwin, Billy Joel, and other luminaries, this collection explores the emotional impact and celebrates the everlasting effects of the Fab Four’s February 1964 arrival in the U.S.

Black Dog & Leventhal

(dist. by Workman)

All The Songs: The Story Behind Every Beatles Release by Philippe Margotin, Jean-Michel Guesdon, and Scott Freiman (Oct. 23, hardcover, $50, ISBN 978-1579129521). Every album and every song ever recorded by the Beatles—from “Please Please Me” (U.S. 1963) to “The Long and Winding Road” (U.S. 1970)—is analyzed by two music historians in this illustrated work.

John Blake

(dist. by Trafalgar Square/IPG)

AC/DC in the Studio by Jake Brown (Oct. 1, paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-1782194262). Including exclusive interviews with producers and engineers, and extensive commentary from band members, this book describes the making of some of the greatest hard rock anthems of all time.

Chicago Review Press

(dist. by IPG)

Keith Richards on Keith Richards: Interviews and Encounters by Sean Egan (Sept. 1, paper, $18.95, ISBN 978-1613747889). Spanning his entire career, this book collects five decades of interviews given by Richards showcases his quick wit, startling honesty, and intense passion for music.

Crown Archetype

Tune In: The Beatles—All These Years by Mark Lewisohn (Oct. 29, hardcover, $40, ISBN 978-1400083053). The first volume in a trilogy about the band that changed the face of pop music, from the author of Beatles Recording Sessions.

Wild Tales: A Rock & Roll Life by Graham Nash (Sept. 24, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-0385347549). A candid autobiography from the legendary musician and founding member of the bands Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and the Hollies.

Da Capo press

(dist. by Perseus)

27: A History of the 27 Club Through the Lives of Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, and Amy Winehouse by Howard Sounes (Nov. 12, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-0306821684). More than 180 interviews conducted by the author shed new light on and examine previously undiscovered connections between musicians who all died at the age of 27. 30,000-copy announced first printing.

Birth School Metallica Death: The Biography, Vol. 1 by Paul Brannigan and Ian Winwood (Nov. 5, hardcover, $27.99, ISBN 978-0306821868). The first of a two-volume biography of Metallica, the biggest metal band of all time, is told via exclusive interviews with the band. 60,000-copy announced first printing.

DK Publishing

Music by DK Publishing (Sept. 16, hardcover, $50, ISBN 978-1465414366) guides readers through the progression of music from its prehistoric beginnings, discussing not just Western classical music, but music from all around the world; produced in association with the Smithsonian Institution and including images from the United States National Music Museum.

Duke Univ. Press

Roll with It: Brass Bands in the Streets of New Orleans by Matt Sakakeeny (Nov. 8, paper, $23.95, ISBN 978-0822355670). A firsthand account by a former NPR producer of the contradictory lives of New Orleans brass band musicians.

Wm. B. Eerdmans

Playing Before the Lord: The Life and Work of Joseph Haydn by Calvin R. Stapert (Sept. 30, paper, $24, ISBN 978-0802868527). Franz Joseph Haydn (1732–1809) has been called the father of the symphony and the string quartet, and Stapert explores his vast work.

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Play It Again: An Amateur Against the Impossible by Alan Rusbridger (Sept. 17, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-0374232917) The Guardian editor recount a remarkable musical challenge during an extraordinary year for news as he learns, in the course of a year, Chopin’s Ballade No. 1 in G minor.

Feral House

(dist. by Consortium)

Black Metal: Evolution of the Cult by Dayal Patterson (Nov. 12, paper, $25, ISBN 978-1936239757) is the most comprehensive history yet of this fascinating offshoot of extreme heavy metal.

Simon & Schuster/Gallery

Nice to Meet You by Jessie J (Sept. 17, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-1476735191) is an illustrated scrapbook from the famed pop star behind Billboard hits like “Domino” and “Price Tag.”

Gotham Books

Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington by Terry Teachout (Oct. 17, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-1592407491) is a new biography from the acclaimed author of Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong.


Beethoven: The Man Revealed by John Suchet (Dec. 10, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0802122063). A new biography by Suchet, an English classical music radio host and Beethoven scholar.

Harvard Univ. Press

City, Chant, and the Topography of Early Music, edited by Michael Scott Cuthbert, Sean Gallagher, and Christoph Wolff (Sept. 30, hardcover, $45, ISBN 978-0964031746) explores how space, urban life, landscape, and time transformed plainchant and other musical forms, in 13 essays addressing a wide range of topics and regions

History Press

(dist. by Trafalgar Square/IPG)

Standing in the Wings: The Beatles, Brian Epstein and Me by Joe Flannery and Mike Brocken, foreword by Philip Norman (Sept. 1, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-0752490090). An in-depth account of the Beatles’ rise to fame includes the controversial dismissal of Pete Best from the group, Brian Epstein’s fragility, and the importance of the Star Club in Hamburg.


Strings Attached: One Tough Teacher and the Gift of Great Expectations by Melanie Kupchynsky and Joanne Lipman (Oct. 1, hardcover, $24.99, ISBN 978-1401324667). An inspirational true story about a teacher who, through tough methodology, transformed his students and daughters into top performers, unlocking in them the gift of greatness by believing in them more than they believed in themselves. 150,000-copy announced first printing.


Music in the Castle of Heaven: A Portrait of Johann Sebastian Bach by John Eliot Gardiner (Oct. 29, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-0375415296) takes a unique look at one of the greatest of all composers, by one of the world’s leading conductors. 30,000-copy announced first printing.

Musorgsky and His Circle: A Russian Musical Adventure by Stephen Walsh (Dec. 3, hardcover, $37.50, ISBN 978-0307272447) offers a collective biography of Mussorgsky and the composers he associated with, creators of some of the best-known and most admired music of the 19th century.

Hal Leonard Books/Backbeat Books

Elvis Music FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About the King’s Recorded Works by Mike Eder (Oct. 1, paper, $22.99, ISBN 978-1617130496). A history of Elvis’s music career—from Memphis to Hawaii, from the outtakes to the hits.

Little, Brown

Johnny Cash: The Life by Robert Hilburn (Nov. 5, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0316194754) presents the definitive, intimate, no-holds-barred biography of Johnny Cash. 50,000-copy announced first printing.

Omnibus Press

The Million Dollar Quartet: Jerry Lee, Carl, Elvis & Johnny by Stephen Miller (Aug. 1, hardcover, $34.95, ISBN 978-1780385143). The full story behind a legendary recording session featuring Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash.

Oxford Univ. Press

The Chronicle of Jazz by Mervyn Cooke (Nov. 1, hardcover, $39.95, ISBN 978-0199341009). A sweeping history of the evolution of jazz, from its roots in Africa and the Southern United States to the myriad urban styles heard around the world today.

powerHouse Books

Caffe Lena: Inside America’s Legendary Folk Music Coffeehouse by Jocelyn Arem, photos by Joe Alper, foreword by Tim Robbins (Oct. 8, hardcover, $49.95, ISBN 978-1576876527) tells the story of how, in 1960, burgeoning actress and defiant dreamer Lena Spencer opened a small coffeehouse in the upstate New York town of Saratoga Springs.


This Land That I Love: Irving Berlin, Woody Guthrie, and the Story of Two American Anthems by John Shaw (Nov. 5, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-1610392235). A narrative history of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” and Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America” that uncovers the conflicts and common ground between two classic patriotic songs.

Quayside Publishing Group/Race Point

Pink Floyd: Behind the Wall by Hugh Fielder (Oct. 2, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-1937994259). A complete illustrated history of one of the most popular rock bands of all time; with more than 250 images and a complete discography.


Take You There: Mavis Staples, the Staple Singers, and the March up Freedom’s Highway by Gret Kot (Jan., 21, hardcover, $TK, ISBN 978-1451647853). The untold story of living legend Mavis Staples, lead singer of the Staple Singers and a major figure in the music that shaped the civil rights era.

Seven Stories Press

(dist. by CBSD)

The Walrus and the Elephants: John Lennon’s Years of Revolution by James Mitchell (Dec. 3, hardcover, $26.95, ISBN 978-1609804671). The story of John Lennon’s years of revolution in 1971–1972, when he moved to New York and became involved in the antiwar and youth movements fighting against the establishment.

Simon & Schuster

Beatles vs. Stones by John McMillian (Oct. 29, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-1439159699). Boasting the intellectual rigor of a historian and the passion of a diehard fan, McMillian offers this narrative account of the biggest and most misconstrued rivalry in the annals of rock and roll.

Simple Dreams: A Musical Memoir by Linda Ronstadt (Sept. 17, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1451668728) weaves together a captivating story of Ronstadt’s origins in Tucson, Ariz., and her rise to stardom in the Southern California music scene of the 1960s and ’70s.

Simon & Schuster/Howard Books

My Life with Deth: Discovering Meaning in a Life of Rock & Roll by David Ellefson, with Joel McIver, foreword by Alice Cooper (Oct. 29, hardcover, $24, ISBN 978-1451699883). One of the hardest headbangers of heavy metal shares his uplifting and empowering memoir about overcoming addiction and dedicating his life to God.


Pink Floyd by Glenn Povey (Oct. 1, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-1454909491). With more than 250 million albums sold and a decades-spanning career, few bands have been as artistically influential as Pink Floyd—and this slipcased volume takes fans on their journey.

Sterling/Carlton Books

Kurt Cobain: The Nirvana Years by Carrie Borzillo (Oct. 1, hardcover, $29.95, ISBN 978-1780974002) tells the story of the charismatic singer/songwriter and the band, based on copious quotes and interviews from the people who were there as Nirvana rose to fame.

St. Martin’s

AC/DC: Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be by Mick Wall (Nov. 12, hardcover, $26.99, ISBN 978-1250038746). The rock biographer and author of When Giants Walked the Earth tells the story of the enduring rock band that has sold 200 million albums.

Univ. of California Press

Surfing About Music by Timothy J. Cooley (Jan. 1, paper, $29.95, ISBN 978-0520276642). This first major examination of the interrelationships of music and surfing explores different ways that surfers combine surfing with music.

Univ. of Chicago Press

Richard Wagner: A Life in Music by Martin Geck, trans. by Stewart Spencer (Sept. 23, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-0226924618). This biography strikes a balance between the technical musical aspects of Wagner’s compositions and his overarching understanding of aesthetics.

Univ. of Minnesota Press

Celebrating Bird: The Triumph of Charlie Parker by Gary Giddins (Sept. 1, paper, $17.95, ISBN 978-0816690411). The critically acclaimed study of jazz giant Charlie Parker appears in a revised and definitive edition.

Univ. of Texas Press

Merle Haggard: The Running Kind by David Cantwell (Oct. 1, paper, $19.95, ISBN 978-0292717718). Focusing on the most prolific decades in the career of this complex, often contradictory figure in country music, Cantwell explores the creation of many of Haggard’s greatest hits.

Univ. Press of Mississippi

Quincy Jones: His Life in Music by Clarence Bernard Henry (Oct. 1, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-1617038617). A biography of one of the most influential creators and talents of the 20th century

Voyageur Press

The Art of Metal: Five Decades of Heavy Metal Album Covers, Posters, T-Shirts, and More, edited by Malcolm Dome and Martin Popoff, foreword by Lemmy (Oct. 15, hardcover, $40, ISBN 978-0760344934). A chronological collection of the colorful, outlandish, and sophisticated album covers, posters, T-shirts, and more that have made the heavy metal genre famous for its imagery.


Eminent Hipsters by Donald Fagen (Oct. 22, hardcover, $26.95, ISBN 978-0670025510). Cofounder of Steely Dan, musician and songwriter Fagen presents a group of vivid set pieces in his entertaining debut as an author, including portraits of the cultural figures and currents that shaped him as a youth.

Mozart: A Life by Paul Johnson (Nov. 14, hardcover, $25.95, ISBN 978-0670026371). Historian Johnson presents a rich, succinct portrait of Mozart and his music.

Yale Univ. Press

The Leonard Bernstein Letters by Nigel Simeone (Oct. 22, hardcover, $38, ISBN 978-0300179095). A selection of revealing letters to and from one of the titans of 20th-century music.