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Brooklyn Rail Highly Selective Music Events

A thoughtful, discerning, and carefully compiled list of the most notable, promising and unique musical events for the month of April in New York City.

Diary of a Mad Composer

This seems to be a golden age for writing about music. The monetary costs to blog, or publish a book, are almost nil (once you have a computer). That leaves inclination, time, and effort, which is a technical way to define passion.

Recommended New and Recent Books on Music

An utterly spectacular production that realizes the promise of multimedia, this interactive book combines learned and richly presented critical, biographical, and historical writing on Mozart with audio and video: interviews, panel discussions, three hours of music, 25 filmed performances, and a performance of Alexander Pushkin’s drama Mozart and Salieri (available through iBooks for iPad and Mac OS X only).

Informative, Delightful, A Little Depressing

The book is published by Bloomsbury Academic, which also publishes the 33 1/3 series. As the introduction explains, the idea for How to Write About Music began with a workshop called “Writing Rock” taught by co-editor Marc Woodworth. Co-editor Ally-Jane Grossan—who took Woodworth’s class as a college sophomore—is the editor of the 33 1/3 series, and many of the primary sources are excerpts from 33 1/3 books. (It bears mentioning that Rail music editor George Grella is an upcoming 33 1/3 author.)

Time Cycles

Philip Glass’s new memoir, Words Without Music, is an absorbing, graceful, and humane window into the interior life of one of our most important and arguably most famous composers. It also reads—and this is in no way Glass’s intention or fault—as a sad, even despair-inducing silhouette of an economic and social environment, and the room within it for a deeply committed life of creative work, that no longer exists in New York City, and probably not anywhere in the United States.

Life of the Party Music

As a black child growing up in the late 1960s to mid-1970s, I had witnessed many examples of how Black Power culture made its way into society. From the wardrobes my eldest brothers had worn—black leather coats, slacks, shoes, and apple-shaped headgear—and the afros they sported to match their black-rimmed glasses, to the community program my dad launched in Rochester, NY, appropriately called “Soul School.” Much of this was the result of the efforts of the national Black Panther Party (BPP), helmed by Huey Newton, Bobby Seale, Eldridge Cleaver, Kathleen Cleaver, and others.

Artistic License

Kim Gordon is an artistic polymath, steeped in visual art, film, the written word. Her primary focus is music: for three decades, the world knew her as Sonic Youth’s inscrutable bassist. Girl in a Band is Gordon’s literate memoir of following “the forward wave of momentum, noise, and motion” that led to New York City, to husband and bandmate Thurston Moore, and to the long-running Sonic Youth.


It’s rare that I get badgered over and over again by a publicist to listen to his/her client’s work, not really being a credible/full-time so-called critic/journalist, but for the past two months such was the case with so-and-so about listening to such-and-such CD and possibly attending a gig at an upscale club (which believe it or not, I turned down). Well, I did finally say yes to the CD and it arrived in the dead of winter and I listened to it on one of the coldest, snowiest, most miserable days of the year after just getting back from ditto weather in Boston.


The Brooklyn Rail

APR 2015

All Issues