Kent Nagano memoir, now in English, explores classical music in the modern age

Posted on: March 5, 2019

Conductor Kent Nagano’s Classical Music: Expect the Unexpected, originally published in German in 2014 and recently released in an updated English translation, is “part memoir and part polemic,” writes Arthur Kaptainis in Saturday’s (3/2) Gazette (Montreal, CA). “Above all it is passionate in its advocacy of classical music as an eternal pathway to individual spiritual awareness and a tonic for what ails the modern age…. His famous enthusiasm for Frank Zappa is an expression not of an urge to play nice with rockers but a real admiration for the ‘classical’ complexity of this composer’s little-understood orchestral scores.… The new availability of music through streaming and YouTube represents a golden opportunity.… ‘Let’s transform “the crisis of classical music” into “classical music for a time of crisis,” ’ Nagano writes…. There are chapters devoted to” Schoenberg, Beethoven, Bruckner, Charles Ives, and Leonard Bernstein, and “there is naturally a portrait of Olivier Messiaen, with whom Nagano lived as a musical assistant in Paris.” He describes the sound of the Montreal Symphony, where he is music director, as “ ‘Québécois: brilliant, very warm, lean, elegant, not very American, but not purely European, either.’ … Most important was outreach to a younger audience.”

Posted March 5, 2019