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March is National Reading Month

March is National Reading Month, and what better way to celebrate than by diving into some books about classical music? Whether you're a music lover or simply looking to broaden your horizons, here are some great reads to check out using the following keywords:

I Never Walked Alone: The Autobiography of an American Singer by Shirley Verrett and Dr. Christopher Brooks

I Never Walked Alone: The Autobiography of an American Singer is a fascinating account of a gifted woman coming of age and rising to success at a time when black classical musicians faced barriers at every turn. Shirley Verrett possessed a talent and ambition so dazzling she could not be denied. She became one of the most celebrated artists of her time. I Never Walked Alone draws the reader into the world of this graceful, fiery artist, dramatically telling the story of her childhood and her brilliant international career. The book is filled with behind-the-scenes tales of this diva's great performances, roles, and collaborations, offering insight into her stormy personal relationships as well as her private struggles and critical decisions. Featuring forewords and afterwords by such figures as Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, Zubin Mehta, and Claudio Abbado, this richly detailed book paints a vivid picture of a magnificent survivor and an indelible artist known around the world as the black Maria Callas.

"The Rest Is Noise" by Alex Ross

In this Pulitzer Prize finalist, music critic Alex Ross takes readers on a journey through the 20th century, exploring the evolution of classical music and its relationship to the world around it. With a focus on the social, political, and cultural contexts in which music was created, "The Rest Is Noise" provides a fascinating look at how classical music has been shaped by the events of the last century.

Winner of the 2007 National Book Critics Circle Award in criticism, the 2008 Guardian First Book Award, a 2010 Premio Napoli prize in foreign literature, the 2011 Grand Prix des Muses, and a Music Pen Club prize in Japan; finalist for the 2008 Pulitzer Prize in general non-fiction; shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize; one of the New York Times's 10 Best Books of 2007; also on best-of-the-year lists in the Washington Post, the LA Times, New York, Time, The Economist, Slate, and Newsweek. A New York Times, LA Times, and Boston Globe bestseller; translated into fifteen languages; inspired a year-long festival at the Southbank Centre in 2013.

Mozart in the Jungle by Blair Tindall

If you're looking for a lighter read that still delves into the world of classical music, "Mozart in the Jungle" is a great choice. Based on the author's own experiences as an oboist in the New York City classical music scene, this memoir offers a behind-the-scenes look at the glamorous, competitive, and often cutthroat world of professional musicians.

From the recitals and Broadway orchestra performances to the secret life of musicians who survive hand to mouth in the backbiting New York classical music scene, where musicians trade sexual favors for plum jobs and assignments in orchestras across the city. Tindall and her fellow journeymen musicians often play drunk, high, or hopelessly hungover, live in decrepit apartments and perform in hazardous conditions—working-class musicians who schlep across the city between low-paying gigs, without health-care benefits or retirement plans, a stark contrast to the rarefied experiences of overpaid classical musician superstars. An incisive, no-holds-barred account, Mozart in the Jungle is the first true, behind-the-scenes look at what goes on backstage and in the orchestra pit.

Always the Song Struggling to be Heard: The Passionate Journey of Struggle, Resilience, and Triumph of a Musical Artist By Jeanette Blakeney

Always the Songs Struggling to be Heard by Jeanette Blakeney draws upon personal experience and thoughtful observation in a revealing style, offering her readers reflection on a range of issues as she navigated through difficult and harrowing challenges in her music career. Always the Song Struggling to be Heard, is a must-read for anyone with a dream and a hunger for their piece of the pie! It’s a guide and reference, and a compelling story of Ms. Blakeney’s difficult, yet magical ride, as she strived to be heard. It teaches and inspires everyone that, through tenacity and hard sacrifice, they can find their own voice in the world and to never give up on their cherished dreams!

The Classical Music Book by DK Publishing

For a comprehensive guide to the world of classical music, look no further than "The Classical Music Book" from DK Publishing. This beautifully illustrated volume covers everything from the Baroque period to modern-day composers, with profiles of key figures and analyses of their most famous works.

Easy to understand and clear to follow, this history of classical music explores and explains music theory and the impact of seminal pieces, while also providing fascinating stories about the lives of crucial composers and performers.

Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks

In "Musicophilia," renowned neurologist Oliver Sacks explores the fascinating ways in which music affects the brain and the human experience. With case studies and personal anecdotes, Sacks delves into topics like synesthesia, amusia, and musical hallucinations, showing how our brains are wired to respond to music in profound and unexpected ways.

Whether you're a longtime classical music fan or just starting to explore the genre, these books are sure to provide insights and inspiration to keep you reading and listening for National Reading Month and beyond.

If you missed it, check out my book list for February.

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