If you have read even one Murakami novel, you can't help but notice he makes a point of mentioning specific pieces of music. These pieces vary from classical to jazz to The Beatles (his best-known novel is titled after the Beatle's song "Norwegian Wood"). In "Absolutely on Music" Murakami records a series of conversations with is friend conductor Seiji Ozawa. The majority of the conversations start out with them listening to specific pieces of classical music. I found it fun to look up the pieces and listen to them as I read. They even provide a playlist available from Murakami's website. Despite Murakami's extensive jazz and classical collection and knowledge, he confesses to knowing nothing when it comes to the technical side of making music. This keeps the book from being bogged down with complicated terms the average reader would not be familiar with. Instead, the conversations follow Ozawa's musical career, how he conducts his favorite pieces, how he learned under Leonard Bernstein, and most interestingly the difference between making music in the Western world with an Eastern mindset.
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.