The interests of the British composer Jonathan Harvey are wide and varied, embracing Christianity, Buddhism, eastern and western philosophy, aesthetics, science, and mysticism All affect his musical thinking and are a part of this text, which is accompanied by a compact disc featuring works discussed by the author Harvey explores aspects of music that he connects with spirituality self identity, ambiguity, unity, stasis, and silence In the course of his explorations he offers corroborating statements about music and spirituality from sources ranging from Nietzsche to Oliver Sacks The book and CD include samples of his own music as well as of compositions by Mozart, Scriabin, Stockhausen, and others that help to illustrate the profoundness of what Harvey deems the good listening experience


1 thoughts on “In Quest of Spirit (with audio CD): Thoughts on Music (Ernest Bloch Lectures)

  1. David Bennett David Bennett says:

    If you already know and appreciate Jonathan Harvey s music, you will almost certainly get a great deal out of this book He gives very specific and revealing explanations of how some of his works came to be and what he has tried to achieve.If you don t know his music, but are drawn here by the general topic of music and spirituality, you need to know what sort of book this is, and what sort of music is on the CD The book is of a sketch than a thoroughly worked out study of this topic Excluding the musical examples and footnotes, it is only about 88 pages long, and it covers a great many topics, so it can hardly be expected to do than briefly scratch the surface of each of these topics But in briefly scratching the surface, he does offer provocative hints at ideas that the reader can then research or think through in greater detail These little hints at ideas are often very good he has interesting insights into Wagner and Mahler, for example, and other traditional composersit s not all Stockhausen and IRCAM But they are never than just hints at ideas, except when he is talking about his own music, when he does get into detail This reads something like a journal of an artisttoday I jot down this thought, tomorrow a different thought.The music on the CD is Harvey and other examples of what some have called, accurately I think, difficult listening This is avant garde stuff, and make no mistake I m afraid that I am something of a philistine in this area, and sometimes I like the descriptions of the music than the music itself But that might change if I heard the pieces in their full development rather than these excerpts At any rate, including a CD with the book was a wonderful thing to do Since the CD consists of brief musical excerpts, it resembles the book in hinting at musical ideas, and that s what it s intended to do.Having expressed my reservations, let me just add that Harvey comes across in this book as an astute listener and thinker, and he doesn t hide behind jargon or ambiguous language There is a lot of candor in his discussion of his own work, and considerable insight in the nuggets of ideas that are sprinkled on every page It s just that it s up to the reader to take these nuggets and develop them on your own.