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Absolutely on Music: Conversations with Seiji Ozawa
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Absolutely on Music: Conversations with Seiji Ozawa

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  1,778 Ratings  ·  247 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
Hardcover, 325 pages
Published November 15th 2016 by Knopf (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)
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Bookdragon Sean
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
Christopher Shawn
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
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
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Paul Secor
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
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
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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  ·  review of another edition
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
"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
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
Dec 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
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  ·  review of another edition
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
May 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-book
Fellow classical music geeks, this one's for you. I'm glad Murakami was able to have all these conversations with Ozawa and turn them into a book. They talk about pieces, orchestras, performers, composers, focusing in on what interested them to explore in depth.
Maria Ploumaki
Jan 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am not a big fun of the classics,so at the beggining of this book i was kinda sad it wasnt about jazz hahaha.I tried to listen the music they were talking about but i couldnt keep up.Untill Mahler.What a revelation!!!!I am sure i am going to read this book again in the future!
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
Jan 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Robert Blumenthal
Feb 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What I really liked about this book was the very same thing that I found as a fault (how do you spell irony again? or is it paradox?). What I am referring to was the casual nature of this book, just a couple of geniuses having a series of conversations about music. This gave the book a nice relateable quality that was quite charming. However I would have appreciated just a bit more structure to it, for it seemed to ramble at times. I know this sounds a bit contradictory, but this is very much ho ...more
Kelly Sedinger
Jul 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music, 2017-reads
This is a terrific book, if you are interested in classical music. (It is NOT geared at all toward people who aren't at least somewhat knowledgeable about classical music, so buyer beware.) Haruki Murakami sat down for a series of conversations with Seiji Ozawa, one of the great orchestral conductors of our time, and this book is simply the transcriptions of those interviews/conversations. The topics range from Ozawa's deep connection to the music of Mahler to a somewhat clinical discussion of t ...more
Harriett Milnes
As a young woman, I lived in San Francisco and bought "rehearsal" tickets to the SF Symphony. Rehearsal tickets meant you attended a performance, which was technically a rehearsal, however I do not remember the performance ever being stopped. It was a cheaper ticket for music students. Seiji Ozawa was the conductor. What wonderful memories I have of those years. I don't remember Maestro Ozawa wearing a traditional tuxedo. We thought he was just the coolest. After that period, Ozawa's career led ...more
Nov 27, 2016 rated it liked it
There are some wonderfully eloquent passages about music and beauty in there, something that I've always found tough to put down in words. I found it engrossing and a easy, quick read, but I think people who are unfamiliar with classical music will find it absolutely obscure and boring; professionals might get bored too. To be fair, it is transparent in the conversations that the writer & conductor aimed this book for amateurs of classical music.
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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
More about Haruki Murakami

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“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.” 10 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.” 8 likes
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