Even though this book is not in the list recommended by our subject teachers, I still have chosen to read it. The reason is because I knew, from the moment that I had my first glance at the title, that this is the answer to the one question that I had in my mind for years – why do I make music? In order for me to answer my question I have to know the connection between music and life.
Another reason is because the author, Daniel Barenboim, is a world-renowned pianist who was at
the age of 56 when he wrote this book. I think that it is such a great opportunity to read about what someone has been searching, observing and interpreting during his life full of experiences. It would be foolish to put the book back on the shelf when you can read the book in 3 weeks while the author took 56 years of his life discovering it.
Barenboim wrote started the book with a “Prelude.” The first idea that he introduced is that “The
beginning of a concert is more privileged than the beginning of a book.” This simple sentence contains a lot of thoughts behind it. Barenboim explained that “a book is full of the same words that are used every day…our thoughts take shape in words” but for music there are no limits to what you can imagine. The second paragraph was more striking than the first. He questioned the reader so strongly about why do schools eliminate the study of music and not the study of language or mathematics when the study of music “encompasses so many aspects of these fields and can even contribute to a better understanding of them.”
In the first chapter, Sound and Thought, there is one particular paragraph which I can truly connect it to my experience. Barenboim put the feeling while playing a piece of music into a simple sentence, “the feeling that this is actually much longer than my real life, that I have been on a journey through history, one that begins and ends in silence.” . I have had this kind of feeling before I read this book but I could not explain why I felt that way; all I know is I always seek for that feeling because this moment of “timelessness” is beyond all feelings. Barenboim explained that a piece of music does not start from the first note but music starts from silence and also ends with silence. Every note “dies” because it has a beginning and the end. But when we make music we can control this relationship between the life and death; through this we achieve a unique state of peace.
As the book develops Barenboim shows us more examples of how music and life are connected. Each example obviously went through a lot of thinking by him so it was not possible to completely understand the complicated ideas just by reading through without interpreting. Just by reading the first few chapters Barenboim already proved that his ideas are true; that “Everything is connected.”