The Internet is a never-ending source of information, but I still appreciate having a well-stocked personal library. Here are some "essential" titles I treasure relating to the classical music field and culture in general (next month, I will share a few more titles from my bookshelf):
How Should We Then Live? by Francis Schaeffer. In this book, Schaeffer provides a sweeping view of Western history from a biblical worldview, from the time of the Romans up to the present (or at least until 1976, when the book was first published). In his analysis, he shows the interrelation of philosophy, literature, art and music. One thing it has helped me to understand is why "modern art" is often so strange and even absurd.
The Gift of Music - Great Composers and Their Influence, by Jane Stuart Mill and Betty Carlson. Two of Schaeffer's associates put together this book, which includes short biographies of over 40 classical composers, with commentary on each one, from a Christian worldview.
The Spiritual Lives of the Great Composers, by Patrick Kavanaugh. Music history usually tends to overlook the religious views of the great composers, but here Kavanaugh delves into the lives of twelve music masters, with some surprising quotes revealing their faith in the Almighty.
Delius As I Knew Him, by Eric Fenby. In the latter years of his life, Frederick Delius became blind and paralyzed. Eric Fenby, a young musician, came to live with Delius and his wife, and helped the aging composer complete several more works before his death. I can't say that Delius is one of my favorite composers, but the book offers some fascinating insights on the compositional process from one who observed it firsthand. Delius was a staunch unbeliever, and Fenby provides some pointed commentary contrasting Delius' character with his own beliefs as a Christian. A film based on this book, titled Song of Summer, can be viewed on YouTube.
What are some of the books on your shelf that you value most? Write me and let me know!