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Absolutely on Music: Conversations with Seiji Ozawa

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  2,298 ratings  ·  317 reviews
A deeply personal, intimate conversation about music and writing between the internationally acclaimed, best-selling author and his close friend, the former conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Haruki Murakami's passion for music runs deep. Before turning his hand to writing, he ran a jazz club in Tokyo, and from The Beatles' Norwegian Wood to Franz Liszt's Years of
Paperback, 272 pages
Published September 1st 2016 by Harvill Secker (first published 2011)
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Massimo Laneve Good day, I've got English translation - by Jay Rubin - of this book and there are the nice two birds on the paper cover. Actually they are three, one…moreGood day, I've got English translation - by Jay Rubin - of this book and there are the nice two birds on the paper cover. Actually they are three, one of the two on the front cover is also replicated on the back suggesting this somehow represents Murakami, the blue one representing Ozawa. This interpretation is also confirmed by their placement on the paper explicitly referring to authors' names in the front cover, position that shows clearly the conversational nature of the book focused absolutely on music.
I'm not an ornithologist nor a specialist so cannot say which birds they are.
I only know those illustration are taken from some of John James Audubon's work that was a great ornithologist and painter - more references here

If you get some details on the two birds, please share, it's kind on intriguing for me as well.(less)

Community Reviews

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3.89  · 
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 ·  2,298 ratings  ·  317 reviews

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Sean Barrs the Bookdragon
Murakami loves music, any reader of his could tell you as much. Norwegian Wood was named after a Beatles song (albeit one not very well known) and After Dark is framed by a music soundtrack in a brilliant display of atmospheric setting. With this all that love is here. And like all who have a good taste in music, Murakami's is eclectic and very well considered. I found myself looking up musicians after reading this because I found many of his opinions quite convincing.

He shares them with the ren
Jun 15, 2017 added it
One of the most remarkable evenings of my life was the time I hosted an assistant conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra a couple of years ago. I cooked, wine flowed, and we talked late into the night. I recall it started with his explanation of The Enigma Variations over farro and grilled vegetables and segued into a discussion of what symphonies he most wanted to conduct (with halibut and mango sauce as accompaniment). He went through my music collection (Oh, let’s start with the vinyl ...more
Christopher Shawn
Aug 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I've said it before and I'll say it again: If I could only read the work of one author for the rest of my life, I'd choose Haruki Murakami. In this new non-fiction work, Murakami sits down with Seiji Ozawa, legendary conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Music has long been a pivotal component of Murakami's novels, which is no surprise, as he ran a jazz club before becoming an internationally bestselling author.

Absolutely on Music is like sitting in on an intimate conversation between frie
Since I read all things Murakami, I had to read this. It turned out to be wonderful. I guess the more you know about music, the better it would be. I know a little and learned a lot more.

But it's also about what it means to be an artist. It's a lot about the process of creating art. Seiji Ozawa comes across as being gentle, warm, and generous, with his time his energy and his talent. He teaches as well as conducts, although he has been slowed up in recent years by illness.

Murakami, despite his
Nam Le
Jun 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: music
Mình tình cờ thấy cuốn này trong list "to-read" của một người bạn và ngay lặp tức muốn đọc nó. Còn gì thú vị hơn đối với một người thích đọc tiểu thuyết và nghe nhạc cổ điển như mình khi đọc được những cuộc trò chuyện nghiêm túc của hai người Nhật nổi tiếng nhất ở lĩnh vực của mình cơ chứ :P

Murakami như thường lệ, vẫn luôn biết cách tạo nên bất ngờ cho người đọc. Nhưng lần này đó không phải là những cảnh "quan hệ" nhuốm màu nhục cảm, những cuộc du lịch vào chiều không gian thứ 3 hay một ốc đảo
Loredana (Bookinista08)
Îmi vine cumva să râd amar când îmi aduc aminte de mine la 16 ani, urând cu pasiune muzica clasică. :)) Habar n-aveam ce pierd! Dintre toate genurile, opera mi se părea cea mai detestabilă. Iar acum, opera e suflețelul meu. Unde vreau să ajung, de fapt...

Cartea lui Murakami despre muzică este în principal despre muzica clasică. ÎNSĂ! Chiar dacă nu prea ați avut întâlniri de gradul III cu ea până acum, e foarte posibil ca dialogul dintre Murakami și Ozawa să vă apropie de o lume muzicală în care
Paul Secor
Oct 25, 2017 rated it liked it
When I was about four years old, I received a gift of a mechanical bear cub that climbed a pole. I looked at the illustration on the box and was disappointed when I opened it that the toy itself didn't look as perfect as the illustration. I imagine that four years of age is a bit young to start being jaded, but I think I learned then that it doesn't always pay to have expectations that are too high. One's expectations might be fulfilled, but not necessarily. In the case of this book, the reality ...more
Jan 07, 2017 rated it liked it
In 2010 star conductor Seiji Ozawa, then in his mid-70s, had to settle down for a while to convalesce from a series of serious health problems. Haruki Murakami, his celebrated countryman and a genuine classical music buff, filled in the gap with a series of long conversations on all things musical. Murakami is an avid record collector but doesn't know how to read music. So he is essentially a dilettante who had the privilege to quiz a supremely experienced professional musician. The results are ...more
Jeanne Thornton
Feb 14, 2017 rated it liked it
i feel like this is probably really really good if you know a lot more about classical music than I do. As it was, I was just fascinated by the eerie dynamic btw Murakami and Ozawa:

Murakami: I will now ask you to listen to this recording you made forty years ago
Ozawa: ha ha okay
Murakami: Let's stop the tape at 3:39, I'm intrigued by the timpani hiss here, why did you do that
Ozawa: huh! never noticed that before, don't remember
Murakami: I see
Murakami: I will now ask you to listen to this recordin
This book is not for everybody, and yet it is a valuable contribution to nonfiction. If you have any interest in classical music, music history and more, then this is a book for you. It hardly matters if you already know the pieces of music discussed in many parts of this book, because there is a website where you can listen to them to hear what is being discussed. But this is more than a discussion of music, it also brings up history. After all, Ozawa was an assistant conductor to Leonard Berns ...more
Aug 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
The genius that is Seiji Ozawa and Harukuki Murakami is revealed in this series of intimate conversations. Plus, we get a crash course in music and conducting. Engrossing!
Originally posted on my blog:

"Haruki Murakami....doesn't just love music, he knows it."
- Seiji Ozawa, Absolutely on Music

To be honest, the primary reason why I wanted to read to this book is because it's co-written by Murakami. I am a sucker of anything Murakami so after knowing that he has a new book coming out, I took the chance and requested an advance reader's copy from the publisher. Upon learning that my request was approved, I got excited for two things
Кремена Михайлова
Всички почитатели на Мураками знаят какъв меломан е той. Но от романите му (и биографията му) разбираме предимно какви са неговите предпочитания в джаза и донякъде в рока. А ‘Absolutely on Music’ е посветена на класическата музика - разговори на Харуки Мураками със Сейджи Озава през 2011 г. (в момента диригентът е на 82 г.)

Освен за диригентската история на Озава, ми беше много интересно в книгата да прочета и за неговите учители Ленард Бърнстейн (всичко го наричат Лени и е голям шегаджия) и Херб
Nov 19, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Who loves classical Music
** Books 298 - 2016 **

I read in English but the review will be written in Indonesian Languange

3,2 dari 5 bintang!

Saya sangat penasaran dengan buku ini ketika melihat teman saya membacanya dan buku ini sudah terpajang rapi di salah satu toko buku. Makin penasaran lagi karena saya mempunyai feeling buku ini akan bercerita tentang Musik Klasik

Benar tebakan saya buku ini menceritakan tentang Musik Klasik! Percakapan antara Haruki Murakami dan Seiji Ozawa dari awal hingga akhir hanya berkutat tent
Nov 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 Stars - Excellent book

The musical conversations in this book are truly unique and like nothing I’ve ever read before. Murakami presents these conversations in an engaging and almost lyrical way.

Haruki Murakami, world-renowned author, sits down with Seiji Ozawa, world-renowned conductor, for conversations on music (hence the title). They sit down for 6 conversations and Murakami observes Ozawa in action as he conducts his academy for youth musicians in Switzerland. Topics range from musical co
Dec 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Conductor Seiji Ozawa is far too modest a man to write an autobiography, or to have one written about him. During the time in the early 2010’s, when Ozawa was recuperating from esophageal cancer and its many complications, the conductor sat down on many occasions with novelist Haruki Murakami to discuss his musical life, his views on music and on certain composers, as well as teaching. The result is this delightful and marvelous book of musical talk: Absolutely on Music – Conversations with Seij ...more
Dec 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
While reading this book, I felt as though I’d found the opening to that "secret room" as described in this book by the world renowned master of conducting Seiji Ozawa. Through the words and interactions between the reporter, a long-term classical-music aficionado with no formal education in music, and Ozawa himself who was the music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra for 29 years, I saw vividly, conversations between me and my father. My father was a veteran in the art of composition, whi ...more
Jan 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-reads
I find conversations a delight to read. This one is largely about the art of conducting and musical performance, with insights into why performances vary, and plenty of dishy gossip about major conductors of the 20th-century. While many technical details were beyond me (I am not a musician) the book did open a small window into the mind of a conductor and the mysterious communication between conductor and orchestra. Some fascinating parallels can be seen between conducting and novel-writing, and ...more
Paula Cappa
Apr 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Readers who have a ‘hungry heart’ and feel compelled to ‘dig deeper, forging farther ahead,’ as Murakami explains in his introduction, will find themselves quite satisfied. Absolutely On Music is staged as an interview with Seiji Ozawa but it’s really just two guys, drinking tea, listening to music, and exchanging their thoughts in an easy chat. The book will be a treasure for any student or lover of music, and of course the accomplished musician. Because I’m a writer of fiction, I found the cha ...more
Kasa Cotugno
Nov 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Music ... is an art that occurs through time." This is only one of the observations by Seiji Ozawa during conversations with Haruki Murakami transcribed herein. And it is one that resonates. There is much technical material, but Murakami, who downplays his knowledge of music, mostly serves as interlocutor, providing Ozawa the greater amount of input. It is unlike any book on music I've read, providing an insight into the life and mind of one of the most influential maestros in the world. I was ...more
Widyanto Gunadi
Mar 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely On Music is a fascinating and insightful life narrative of a great perennial Japanese former classical music director, conductor, and arranger of the famed Boston Symphony Orchestra from America, Seiji Ozawa, whose performances have successfully made the audiences anywhere in the world to experience a heavenly blissful, auditory solace. The book comprised of a number of interviews conducted by our very own enigmatic contemporary Japanese novelist, Haruki Murakami, on several special o ...more
amirMasoud Hadidi
Jan 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
برای من که شوق موسیقی مدتیه من رو فراگرفته خیلی کتاب جالبی بود،
دور و برم آدمی که چندان موسیقی رو بشناسه پیدا نمی کنم یا خیلی دورن یا اینکه
من ناتوان بودم از برقراری ارتباطِ موثر
چند وقت پیش هم قول و قراری گذاشتم اینکه هیچ وقت سازی رو یاد نگیرم،
دور و برم رو که می گردم می بینم بیشترمون هنوز در مصرف گرایی مشکل داریم و لزوماً خلق چیزها
مزیتی محسوب نمی شه

به گمانم موراکامی هم به چنین چیزی فکر می کرده
بیشتر می خواسته یک مصرف گرای درجه یک موسیقی کلاسیک و جاز و غیره و غیره و غیره باشه
تا بتونه در خلق رمان ه
Mira | I Read Like Phoebe Runs
It's hard for me to point out how very high the wall is that separates the pro from the amateur, the music maker from the listener. The wall is especially high and thick when that music maker is a world-class professional. But still, that fact doesn't have to hamper our ability to have an honest, direct conversation. At least that's how I feel about it, because music itself is a thing of such breadth and generosity. Our most important task is to search for an effective passageway through the wal ...more
Jul 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2011
I know more than I would ever possibly ever need to know about Concerto No.3 and that's a good thing. I love Murakami on music and in a non-fiction conversation it's just as beautiful as him in love with Janacek in 1Q84.
Ronald Geigle
Jul 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a gem. Two masters in conversation. Murakami draws out insights from Ozawa, ranging from the drama behind otherwise invisible moments in classical scores to sharing a box with Liz Taylor and Richard Burton when Ozawa was an assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic. And Murakami’s mastery of the classical music canon makes me want to go back to my teenage years and substitute a little Brahms for Beach Boys. This caution though: if you are not a committed fan of either of these guy ...more
Feb 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Silence in not the absence of sound: there is a sound called silence."
Oh, this was such a delight.

Despite having taken lessons for over a decade of my life (piano, classically trained, the whole RCM shebang), I don't listen to music with 1/1000th of the attention that Haruki Murakami does, so even if this book was just him talking about his love for music, that would've been enough to motivate me to listen more widely and jump back into the world that I've mostly abandoned since revolving around it in my high school days. However, this book isn't just Murakami's m
Jan 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Two disclaimers:

1. Before I was a writer, I studied to be a musician, so I'm not able to say how accessible this book is to someone without a formal musical background.

2. Murakami was the writer who led me to become a writer myself, so I'm always a little biased in favor of his books.

Those two things being said, I greatly enjoyed Absolutely on Music. Murakami has no formal musical training himself, but the powers of his intellect and his careful attention to musical detail shine through as he in
Mar 16, 2018 rated it liked it
ABSOLUTELY ON MUSIC: Conversations with Seiji Ozawa. (2016). Haruki Murakami. ***.
This is a transcription of several conversations that took place between Murakami and Ozawa over a two-year period. There was no formal structure, as such, it was simply a long talk about music – mostly about Ozawa’s roles in it. Murakami, a noted Japanese novelist, was an avid fan of classical music, and, in addition, an avid collector of recordings of that music. Although he had no real training in that musical g
May 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: posseduto
I love classical music and Jazz, even if I'm far from being an expert, so this book was interesting most of all, but I read it very slow so I could listen to the pieces they were mentioning. As usual Murakami is a great narrator and I would probably be happy if I could read everything he wrote.
I wouldn't recommend this book to everybody, but if you have just the slightest interest in music, I would definitely do that.

Mi piace molto la musica classica cosí come il jazz, ma non mi considero nemmen
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Murakami Haruki (Japanese: 村上 春樹) is a popular contemporary Japanese writer and translator. His work has been described as 'easily accessible, yet profoundly complex'. He can be located on Facebook at:

Since childhood, Murakami has been heavily influenced by Western culture, particularly Western music and literature. He grew up reading a range of works by Am
“As Duke Ellington once said, “There are simply two kinds of music, good music and the other kind.” In that sense, jazz and classical music are fundamentally the same. The pure joy one experiences listening to “good” music transcends questions of genre.” 12 likes
“Creative people have to be fundamentally egoistic. This may sound pompous, but it happens to be the truth. People who live their lives watching what goes on around them, trying not to make waves, and looking for the easy compromise are not going to be able to do creative work, whatever their field. To build something where there was nothing requires deep individual concentration, and in most cases that kind of concentration occurs in a place unrelated to cooperation with others, a place we might even call dämonisch.” 11 likes
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