Life and Classical Music

By Paul Kim

From memoirs to mysteries, fall into the beauty, drama, and human connections that can form through classical music and some of the instruments that drive it.

  • The Ensemble

    2018 by Gabel, Aja

    Following four ambitious and talented members of a string quartet, this book will bring you deep into the complex world of classical music. The book includes loads of passion, drama, and competition—all of which lead to an intriguing read.

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  • The Piano Shop on the Left Bank

    2001 by Carhart, Thaddeus

    Paris, people, and wine all swirl in this charming book about a shop full of discarded pianos. The descriptions of music and Paris are equally beautiful and will pull you in whether you are a familiar with pianos or not.

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  • Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall

    2009 by Ishiguro, Kazuo

    Five musicians, their stories, and the thoughts that run through their minds make this a fascinating collection. Kazuo Ishiguro’s thoughtfulness, wit, and lyricism are all on full display in each story.

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  • The Violin Conspiracy

    2022 by Slocumb, Brendan

    Viewed by many as The Queen’s Gambit for classical music, this mystery centers around a violin prodigy whose love and dedication for music drive him to break the barriers of racism, the cutthroat nature of the classical world, and a stolen violin.

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  • Simon the Fiddler

    2020 by Jiles, Paulette

    Set in Texas during and after the Civil War, this book is a story of love, war, travel, and music. After the Civil War, Simon survives by playing gigs with the hopes of capturing the heart of an Irish governess.

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  • Mozart in the Jungle: Sex, Drugs, and Classical Music

    2005 by Tindall, Blair

    Nonfiction that flows like fiction, this memoir presents strong characterization while exploring some of the darker areas of being a classical musician. Eyebrows will be raised while reading this one.

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  • The Noise of Time

    2016 by Barnes, Julian

    Exploring the life of the Russian composer and pianist Dmitri Shostakovich, this work of historical fiction is compelling, complex, and atmospheric. Like many artists, Shostakovich longed for the space to work creatively but instead was constantly under pressure of tyranny and, miraculously, managed to create beautiful art.

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  • Exile Music

    2020 by Steil, Jennifer

    What happens when music has been taken away from you? This historical fiction novel attempts to answer that question while shining a light on WWII Bolivia. Fleeing Vienna in the 1930s, Orly and her parents must adapt quickly in a new country and a new life—into which they try to bring music back.

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  • The Rainaldi Quartet

    2006 by Adam, Paul

    Fans of classical music and mystery will devour this thriller about a murdered violin maker and a legendary violin that has gone missing. The storytelling is rich and the presentation of the classical music subculture is informative without being elitist.

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  • Tenderwire

    2006 by Kilroy, Claire

    Obsession, trust issues, and jealousy push violinist Eva Tyne to the brink of psychological destruction in this fast-paced thriller. Outside of the beautiful description of the power of music, this book combines love, suspense, and many twists and turns.

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  • The Weight of a Piano

    2019 by Cander, Chris

    This reflective novel explores artistic inspiration, the connections that we have through physical objects, and family legacy. Through an old upright piano, the lives of multiple people are linked together in ways that are both obvious and mysterious.

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  • An Equal Music

    2015 by Seth, Vikram

    In this story of lost love and music—and the spectrum of emotions that one can experience through both—classical music takes center stage as both of this book's main characters are professional musicians. Passion, tragedy, and classical music are all articulated elegantly through the rich writing of Vikram Seth, and even if you aren't familiar with this genre of music, it will be hard not to get pulled in.

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