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Mozart in the Jungle: Sex, Drugs, and Classical Music

3.35  ·  Rating details ·  2,396 ratings  ·  332 reviews
In the tradition of Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential and Gelsey Kirkland's Dancing on My Grave, Mozart in the Jungle delves into the lives of the musicians and conductors who inhabit the insular world of classical music. In a book that inspired the Amazon Original series starring Gael Garcia Bernal and Malcolm McDowell, oboist Blair Tindall recounts her decades-long ...more
Paperback, 318 pages
Published June 8th 2006 by Grove Press (first published 2005)
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Esther Duerinck The book is based on the same concept but is storywise nothing like the show. The book almost only shows the dark, bitter side of the professional cla…moreThe book is based on the same concept but is storywise nothing like the show. The book almost only shows the dark, bitter side of the professional classical music world and endless chaptres of numbers of evolution in government funding etc. Except from some rare fun anecdotes it's not actually fun to read, i thought. I just finished it and it kind of depressed me, being a young classical music student myself.(less)

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Average rating 3.35  · 
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Jul 22, 2011 rated it did not like it
Before I review this book, there is something you must know about me. I very rarely ever give one-star reviews. I usually try to find something -- anything -- to like or appreciate in a book. I also make an effort to finish reading books I don't particularly enjoy, no matter how long it might take. This book... I can honestly say I hate this book.

First of all, the book is 307 pages long. I made it to page 130 before putting it down for good. It took me something like four months to read those 13
At several points in this memoir, Blair Tindall states that she was so isolated and insulated within the classical music scene that she never gained perspective on the wider world. Upon graduating from an arts high school, for example, she had no idea how the Civil War started and had never heard of the periodic table of elements. While most people move to NYC at a young age to gain worldliness, her climb up the city's classical music career ladder only furthered and prolonged her naivety. She s ...more
Emily Wortman-wunder
This is one of those books I find impossible to rate. I mean, how many stars do you assign to "pissed me the hell off, but I really recommend you read it"? One star, due to the number of indignant internal rants it inspired? Five stars, since it's one of the few books I can imagine pressing on strangers in the street--here! read this! Find out what's wrong with Classical Music in America--or maybe not! What do you think? A tepid three just doesn't convey the depths of my hot/cold response.

So her
Oct 18, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: people interested in music and nonprofits.
Shelves: music, biography
Blair Tindall’s lively book offers a rare inside look into the American classical music scene. Her experience in the field is very wide, having played with the New York Philharmonic and every other major and minor orchestra and chamber music ensemble in the Tri-State area, as well as an oboe soloist. She also played for years in the pit for Broadway hit musicals, such as Miss Saigon and Les Miserables, and in the studio recording music for Hollywood hit movies as well as jingles. Tindall’s tell- ...more
Jul 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Every word is true. She nailed it to the wall. Of course, no civilian will believe it.
Jan 02, 2016 rated it liked it
I couldn’t wait to read this memoir after beginning to watch the eponymic series on Amazon.

Tindall began playing the oboe, a difficult but hauntingly beautiful instrument when played well, almost by mistake. When they were handing out instruments alphabetically by last name in band, by the time they got to T there was only a bassoon and oboe to chose from. The oboe being smaller she chose that.

Somewhat intimidated by her academically overachieving brother who went to Exeter and with poor grade
Oct 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
Trying to understand my concert pianist boyfriend's life better... Blair Tindall wrote a terrific book about what it's really like to try to earn a living as a classical musician. This book answers just about every silly question I ever had about how that career really works. Tindall didn't hold back on sharing intimate details even when they painted her in an unflattering light. This book is an amazing resource, and very well researched.
Sep 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
An easy and entertaining read. A must-read for female classical music professionals, as it discusses much of the situations in which we may find ourselves.
Feb 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Blair Tindall’s Secret Garden

This is the autobiography of Blair Tindall, a performer, speaker, and a journalist who dazzled in the world of classical music as an oboist. In this book, she delves into the lives of the musicians and powerful men and women who control the world of classical music. Tindall spares no punches when she recalls her professional career full of hard-luck, pain, self-loathing, deceit, and total addiction to sex, drugs and alcohol. As a freelance musician, she was introduc
Jul 25, 2011 rated it liked it
Interesting. Not quite what I was expecting - slightly less of the sex, drugs, and Chopin, and slightly more of the history and economics of the classical music scene in the US in the 20th century, but generally pretty engaging.

I'm always left wondering what those who know the author, and those who feature in such candid autobiographies make of the finished product.
Oct 03, 2013 added it
Shelves: music
I found this book intensely frustrating on many levels.
On one hand, Tindall brings up many very important issues and history of the arts and of music in the U.S. On the other hand, I think it is one perspective of a disillusioned oboist who seems to be blaming her unhappiness on anything she can find.

As an oboe student music major making my way through college, I find the harsh realities of the industry quite depressing - no one wants to devote their life to the kind of frustrations Tindall de
Jan 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book articulated all the reasons why I decided not to follow a career as a classical musician. Perhaps a bit of a insiders book, but I think it would appeal to all. It provides a candid look behind the scenes of an industry many see as dull and stiff, when it is anything but.
Brianna Wing
Jul 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
I wish I had read this book earlier in my life. It is a must for anyone even considering getting a music degree or heading into the field.
Apr 07, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I wasn't a big fan of this book. I was expecting something with a quicker plot but found entire chapters about the history of arts funding.
Jul 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As with most of the books I read, I check out the reviews written by other Goodreads users either before or during the time I read the book myself. I was flabbergasted by the zero and 1 star reviews that prevail on the opening pages. Surely, I thought, this book can't be that bad, they made a lovely tv show based on it. Oh. Yeah.

The author obviously did not write about Hailey and Rodrigo. They are a creation based upon the world remembered by Ms. Tindall. Indeed, in the 70s and 80s, I also was a
Marcy Heller
Mar 28, 2015 rated it it was ok
I'm not sure which was THE better decision: that I gave up playing the oboe early in my life (and I sucked), or that I deleted this book from my Kindle since I didn't even want to see it on my carousel.

Shame on Blair and some of her colleagues, and what a darn shame any of us needed to know the seedy side of a few musicians' lives.

I grew up knowing many who succeeded in the world of music without the sex and drugs. They did it the old-fashioned way: practice, practice and practice. There ought
Jan 22, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: trash-can
If Blair Tindall's playing technique is anything like her writing style, then I am not at all surprised she didn't make it in the classical music world.

Even if you are able to ignore or survive the awful writing, this is really a rather uninformative book. Sure, there are tidbits of interest here and there, but the generally gossipy tone and the fact that Tindall thinks we should be scandalized by the fact that classically trained musicians do weed and have sex is just immature and naive. My fir
David Vanbiesbrouck
Aug 11, 2014 rated it did not like it
Seeded in shallowness; a book that illegitimately demeans artists and exposes false pretenses of the classical musician's life.
At this point in my life, I've read enough biographies to know that there is definitely some exaggeration (especially in the ones promising scandal and salaciousness). I assume the same of this one, but it was nonetheless very interesting. Having been exposed to classical music from a fairly young age (Not all young people's concerts are terrible, Blair! Some of them actually do accomplish their aim of establishing a lifelong love of classical.), I don't know that I would say that I hold the mus ...more
Olivia Dannenberg
I heard about "Mozart in the Jungle" by Blair Tindall from my cousin who recommended the TV series. As someone who enjoys reading, I figured I should read the book first. I went on a mad witch hunt to find the book-- Barnes and Noble, the library, a different Barnes and Noble, and the library again-- and I finally found it. I like memoirs a lot, and being a musician, the premise of this book intrigued me.

The overarching theme of "Mozart in the Jungle" is music. However, it goes so much deeper i
Jun 15, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
There are interesting parts of this book, but as it went on Blair just became insufferable. There’s a lot of information given about the politics involved in classical music, the rising costs of orchestras, the day to day lifestyles of musicians, and the way classical musicians look down on Broadway orchestras. But the book is ruined by Blair’s inability to take responsibility for herself. Blair chooses to go to NC School of the Arts instead of Exeter, but then acts like she never chose to study ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Apr 24, 2007 rated it it was ok
Shelves: music, read06
In an attempt to write a controversial memoir, Tindall writes about her life as a young musician, and how she slept with people to work her way up into the New York classical music scene. While I understand that it is difficult to make a living as a musician, I don't really believe that one has to live as she did to get there (besides, drugs are expensive.... perhaps if people spent drug money on rent life wouldn't be as hard? just a thought).

If you want a more entertaining telling of the seedy
Mar 31, 2008 rated it liked it
A must read for anyone who has an interest in the public arts and its funding.
The behind-the-scenes look at NYC's classical/Broadway music scene during the 80's and 90's is fun and entertaining, but the book delves into the issues of public funding and the attitudes of those who give and those who receive.

Jul 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Most of the book was terrible, but the analytical information about the classical music industry itself and the funding mechanisms and the data of it's growth and compression over several decades made it worth slogging through all the other trash. Honestly, the last few pages were the best - if you can make it that far.
Stinky Girl
Sep 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book was a very good account of a young lady dealing with the trials and successes of the music business. She started at fifteen years old in the Big Apple playing the obo trying to get the good gigs. She struggled with drugs, sex, and loss of friends and compatriots to aids. I highly recommend this book.
Kate Schindler
Jan 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Memoir of a freelance classical oboist in New York with sections on how classical music worked in the US in the last 50 years or so. If I had ever regretted not taking that path with my violin, I certainly don't anymore.

All in all, an engaging, easy read.
Mar 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book was a good wake-up call to aspiring musicians in the classical world. As a musician myself, I really had no idea this sort of "underground" life existed. The situations that Blair went through in life almost baffle me. The things some musicians would do just to get and keep a gig...
Jul 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As someone who attended music school and was seriously considering music college, I found Ms Tindall's frank portrayal of the classical music industry very insightful.
Duffy Pratt
Jan 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, journalism
This book has an almost schizophrenic feel. It's partially like Kitchen Confidential, by Anthony Bourdain, in that it does give some personal account of the darker side of being a classical musician. But then it also has fairly large sections that simply report on overall data and trends within the field, trying to diagnose what has gone wrong with it.

In light of the #metoo movement, its interesting to see the somewhat casual approach that Tindall takes towards her teacher's abuse of her, and th
Lindsey Stephenson
Oct 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
The reviewers who stopped reading this book before it was over do the book and themselves a disservice. This book did a several things for me.

As a person who works in a field (mental health) where you have to be acutely educated, yet also acutely underpaid, I needed the camaraderie.

As someone considering embarking on a new phase of life, I needed to see her success after making the choice to go back to school later in life.

As someone who already left music as a profession (mostly) I identifie
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“With a bad reed, my oboe could be a beastly instrument honking and squeaking as if it had a mind of its own. When my reeds were working, though, I learned that making a sound spoke my emotions more directly than my own voice.” 0 likes
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