The Life of Music New Adventures in the Western Classical Tradition Nicholas Kenyon

Publication date:
27 Apr 2021
Yale University Press
320 pages: 235 x 156mm
64 color illus.


Immersed in music for much of his life as writer, broadcaster and concert presenter, former director of the BBC Proms, Nicholas Kenyon has long championed an astonishingly wide range of composers and performers. Now, as we think about culture in fresh ways, Kenyon revisits the stories that make up the classical tradition and foregrounds those which are too often overlooked. This inclusive, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic guide highlights the achievements of the women and men, amateurs and professionals, who bring music to life.

Taking us from pianist Myra Hess’s performance in London during the Blitz, to John Adams’s composition of a piece for mourners after New York’s 9/11 attacks, to Italian opera singers singing from their balconies amidst the 2020 pandemic, Kenyon shows that no matter how great the crisis, music has the power to bring us together. His personal, celebratory account transforms our understanding of how classical music is made—and shows us why it is more relevant than ever.

Nicholas Kenyon is Managing Director at London's Barbican Centre. Formerly, he was Director of the BBC Proms and Controller of BBC Radio 3. He is a music critic and the author of books including Simon Rattle: From Birmingham to Berlin.