From Publishers Weekly
Steinhardt (Indivisible by Four: A String Quartet in Pursuit of Harmony
) turns this memoir about becoming a classical concert performer into an adventure. Beyond the specifics of a lifetime spent learning music (Steinhardt hated to practice but remembers swooning to Beethoven as a six-year-old), the first violinist of the celebrated Guarneri Quartet shapes his story with a series of almost mythical odysseys and visions that parallel his technical and intellectual progress. There is the search for the right teacher and the right violin, as well as quirky impressions of such virtuosos as Heifetz and Swigeti. But above all is Steinhardt's ultimate challenge: interpreting J.S. Bach's Chaconne, the most moving but inscrutable of all violin solos. Throughout, Bach is the standard by which Steinhardt measures himself, the artist whose "interlocking qualities of intelligence and sensitivity" he emulates. He knows Bach's history, deconstructs his music, even dreams about the man. When Steinhardt writes of his own fondness for mountain climbing or playfully labels an 18th-century instrument crafted by Sanctus Seraphim "the violin's answer to a fashion model—slender, high-arched, shapely," his subtext is, inevitably, the effect on playing Bach. Watching this accomplished violinist take on the master is riveting; the feeling of immediacy he creates in its telling is an opus at once heroic and brillante. (Oct.)
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"Entrancing...There are marvelous stories here...this is a delightful and deeply touching book." --Richard Goode, pianist
"My heart soared while I read this book. I actually was moved both to laughter and tears." --Alan Alda
"Arnold Steinhardt has written a rapturous, witty and passionate memoir of his life-long search for the perfect violin." --John Guare, playwright