Music – Beach Reading for the Music Lover


Works of fiction that are in some sense or part about music or musicians:

Kingsley Amis: “Girl, 20”

Honore de Balzac: “Gambara” (short story)
“Sarrasine” (novella)

Julian Barnes: “The Noise of Time”
“Harmony” (short story)
“Vigilance” (short story)

Saul Bellow: “Him with his foot in his mouth” (short story)

Thomas Bernhard: “The Loser”

Anthony Burgess: “Napoleon Symphony”

James M. Cain: “Career in C Major” (short story)

Joseph Caldwell: “The Uncle from Rome”

Bo Carpelan: “Axel”

Alejo Carpentier: “The Lost Steps”
      “About a composer who sojourns with a primitive tribe in the Amazon jungle and finds his musical voice.” (Benjamin Yarmolinsky)

Willa Cather: “The Song of the Lark”
“A Wagner Matinee” (short story:

Kate Chopin: “The Awakening”

Frank Conroy: “Body and Soul”

Marcia Davenport: “Of Lena Geyer”

Robertson Davies: “A Mixture of Frailties”
“The Lyre of Orpheus”
“The Rebel Angels”

Thomas M. Disch: “On Wings of Song”

Rita Dove: “Sonata Mulattica”

Jessica Duchen: “Alicia’s Gift”

Jean Echenoz: “Ravel”
“The best adaptation of ‘classical’ music in fiction I know.” (Simon Morrison)

Robert Ford: “The Student Conductor”

Janice Galloway: “Clara”

Steven Galloway: “The Cellist of Sarajevo”

Nikolai Grozni: “Wunderkind”

James Hamilton-Paterson: “Gerontius”
“An exquisitely moving portrait of Elgar at the end of his life.” (Joshua Kosman)

Herrmann Hesse: “The Glass Bead Game”

E. T. A. Hoffmann: “Kreisleriana”
“Johannes Kreisler, des Kapellmeisters musikalische Leiden”
“The Life and Opinions of the Tomcat Murr together with a  fragmentary Biography of Kapellmeister
Johannes Kreisler on Random Sheets of Waste Paper”

Kazuo Ishiguro: “The Unconsoled”
“Nocturnes” (short stories)

J. D. Landis: “Longing”

Norman Lebrecht: “The Song of Names”

Donna Leon: “The Jewels of Paradise”

Thomas Mann: “Doktor Faustus”
“Tristan” (short story)
“The Blood of the Walsungs” (short story)

James McCourt: “Mawrdew Czgowchwz”

Ian McEwen: “Amsterdam”

Brown Meggs: “Aria”

Sean Michaels: “Us Conductors”

David Mitchell: “Cloud Atlas” (the composers’ section is based on Frederick Delius and Eric Fenby)

Alice Munro: “Dance of the Happy Shades” (short story), others.

Cory Oldweiler: “Testimony of the Senses”

Conrad L. Osborne: “O, Paradiso”

Ann Patchett: “Bel canto”

Richard Powers: “The Time of Our Singing” (the one title most often mentioned)
“The Gold Bug Variations”
“In some ways his most startling writing on music.” (David Froom)

Terry Pratchett: “Maskerade”

Sarah Quigley: “The Conductor”

Anne Rice: “Cry to Heaven”

Kim Stanley Robinson: “The Memory of Whiteness”

Romain Rolland: “Jean Christophe”

Carter Scholz: “The Ninth Symphony of Ludwig van Beethoven and Other Lost Songs” (short story)
“The Johann Sebastian Bach Memorial Barbecue and Nervous Breakdown” (short story)

Lynne Sharon Schwartz: “Two-Part Inventions”

Vikram Seth: “An Equal Music”

Nathan Shaham: “The Rosendorf Quartet”

Josef Skvorecky: “Dvorak in Love: A Light-Hearted Dream”

Wesley Stace: “Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer”

Leo Tolstoy: “The Kreutzer Sonata” (short story)

Rose Tremain: “Music and Silence”
“The Gustav Sonata” is scheduled for publication later in 2016

William T. Vollmann: “Europe Central”

Jiri Weil: “Mendelssohn is on the Roof”

Rebecca West: “The Fountain Overflows”

A.N. Wilson: “Winnie and Wolf”


Works of fiction containing notable musical scenes/descriptions:

Kingsley Amis: “Lucky Jim”

Patrick O’Brian: The Aubrey-Maturin series

Julio Cortazar: “Hopscotch”
          “There is a new music piano recital scene that is brutally satirical and scarily convincing.” (Isaac Schankler)

E. M. Forster: “Howards End”
“Where Angels Fear to Tread”

Aldous Huxley: “Point Counter Point”

Randall Jarrell: “Pictures from an Institution”
“All the talk of music, from Mozart to Berg, is wonderful” (Alastair Macaulay)

James Joyce: “Sirens” episode in “Ulysses,” among others.

Jonathan Lethem: “Gun, with Occasional Music.”

Thomas Mann: “The Magic Mountain”
“Death in Venice” (in the novella, Aschenbach is a writer; he became a composer in the Visconti film)

Dawn Powell: “Turn, Magic Wheel”

Marcel Proust: “A la recherche de temps perdu”

Artur Schnitzler: “The Way into the Open”
“Some wonderful passages from the perspective of a conductor” (Richard Bratby)

William Styron: “Sophie’s Choice”
   “Styron describes listening to Mozart’s B-flat piano concerto. Passing reference, but lovely.” (Justin Davidson)

William Makepeace Thackeray: “Vanity Fair”
“Tiny fabulous references to opera” (Alastair Macaulay)

Eudora Welty: “The Golden Apples”

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