Absolutely on Music: Conversations by Haruki Murakami and Seiji Ozawa

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Absolutely on Music

Translated from Japanese by Jay Rubin


“A deeply personal, intimate conversation about music and writing between the internationally acclaimed, best-selling author and the former conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

In Absolutely on Music, internationally Haruki Murakami sits down with his friend Seiji Ozawa, the revered former conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, for a series of conversations on their shared passion: music. Over the course of two years, Murakami and Ozawa discuss everything from Brahms to Beethoven, from Leonard Bernstein to Glenn Gould, from Bartók to Mahler, and from pop-up orchestras to opera. They listen to and dissect recordings of some of their favorite performances, and Murakami questions Ozawa about his career conducting orchestras around the world. Culminating in Murakami’s ten-day visit to the banks of Lake Geneva to observe Ozawa’s retreat for young musicians, the book is interspersed with ruminations on record collecting, jazz clubs, orchestra halls, film scores, and much more. A deep reflection on the essential nature of both music and writing, Absolutely on Music is an unprecedented glimpse into the minds of two maestros.

A selection of the music discussed by Murakami and Ozawa is available at harukimurakami.com.”

From Amazon.com


This book is certainly something I would never really read, however the cover really did catch my attention and had me curious as to what the book was about. Now I will say up front that I skimmed the last 50 or so pages of a 325 page book just because the book was kind of repetitive and since I wasn’t familiar with a lot of the music that was being spoken about, I had troubles understanding everything they were referencing.

Additionally, this book is definitely for musicians just because of some of the lingo expressed and I can tell you now that some of the ways that music is described will be hard to understand for someone who is not a musician

Ozawa was certainly an interesting person to interview and he has lead such an interesting and impressive life. He has gotten countless awards and it is not surprise with the way that he understands music and the way that music really flows through him. He’d be able to listen to a piece of music and recall who played certain instruments and explain why the orchestra sounded the way that it did. When I listened to some of the pieces mentioned while I was reading the book, what he was speaking of only became clear to me when I read what he had said. I would never have really noticed the subtle differences like he had. Of course he is a master of music and just understand it and studies it and becomes one with the music. He is such an inspiration to me, as a musician, and as a persona as well as he’s so accomplished, no matter how difficult the road was.

The format of the book was unique as well as it is set up in an interview format and I haven’t really read books like that before. They’ve never really gained  my attention and it was also one of the reasons that I finished the book, but it was still enjoyable overall.

Even if you are not interested in music, looking at this book may just be beneficial to you as there are lessons within the book that you can still learn. I also feel that this book is a book you do not need to read from start to finish as it is broken up into chapters and then sections. All the sections are a different piece of music and all of the chapters work out to be a separate interview.

Overall, I did enjoy Absolutely on Music. It was unique and really opened my eyes to show me, as a musician, just how much more is in the music. I was always aware of the fact that there was more, but seeing just how much more a human being can find within music was incredibly impressive.

I do recommend the book, even to just dip into it, and to have a new experience.

Happy Reading!