An equal music? Surely not…

From our book club convenor, Anthea Kreston:
Welcome to our fifth cycle of the Fortnightly Music Book Club, a club which connects the broad and diverse Slipped Disc audience to great literature as well as gives us a chance to engage with leading musicians of our time. The Fortnightly Music Book Club has a rotating, international group of guest hosts and covers a wide range of topics.
So – get on your slippers, pour yourself a mug of hot mulled wine, and pull up to the fire. We are in for a treat – Vikram Seth’s “An Equal Music”. Filled with everything you could want or need for a great winter read – sex, quartet drama, dashed hopes, moments of triumph – Vienna, London, Venice. It’s got it all. If you are cracking the binding for the first time, or searching through your stacks and dusting off your copy for a third go-round, this book will transport you into the world of a touring string quartet – from the practice room to the concert hall, through the lense of the second violinist.
The Scotsman says: “All his books have the power to lift you out of your own life and carry you into a world of delight…It is a novel of wonderful high spirits and vitality, a true enchantment. All those who delighted in A Suitable Boy will find delight here too”
I will be your host for this cycle – but I want to hear from you – how does this book resonate with you – does it ring true, bring back memories of your school days, a concert you attended or performed? Let’s listen to the music in the book – from Beethoven Op 1 #3 Trio (and the rarely heard discovery of the Op 104 arrangement for string quintet) to the Trout – these works are bought to life vividly in Seth’s magical prose. Write to me below with questions, or if you prefer, to
See you in a Fortnight – I am eager to start our discussion!

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  • I shuddered at the first violinist bidding up & up at auction beyond all reason.

    Since the book was published poor Nim Kym ( of stolen Strad fame) has shown the folly in real life of getting too attached to a single instrument.

  • The best novel I’ve ever read on the subject of Classical music-making. Carefully researched and beautifully written.

  • This is an excellent book which I remember reading when it was first published almost 20 years ago. Sadly, the details and the story are rather dim in my mind and perhaps I should think about re-reading it some time. Some books, like people age well – hopefully, “An Equal Music” is one of them.

    • I‘m on my third time! It is really a good read. I especially want to try to sightread the Beethoven String Quintet they play…..

      • I guess this is a case of life imitating art at its best. I wonder what Mr. Seth would say knowing that a real world class violinists is trying to do what the characters in his book were doing.

  • This is a wonderful book! I loved reading it quite a long time ago, and also bought the Decca double CD of the music featured in the book. Time to re-read it, I think! One of those books I loved so thoroughly that when I finished the last page, I immediately turned back to the beginning and started re-reading it. I still cringe at some of the main character’s life choices and self defeating behaviours, though!

  • I read it when it came out about 20 years ago. I liked it so much, that every few years or so I think about re-reading it. Alas, I never find the time…

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