Book Review: A musical offering by Luis Sagasti, Translated by Fionn Petch

Luis Sagasti is a writer, lecturer and art critic. He uses all these skills in this small volume which could not be more appropriately titled. The book was translated from Spanish by Fionn Petch. He has been nominated for his translation skills and as a reader I can see why.

This book gives a new slant on the history of music through the centuries. Sagasti links snippets of information; weaving in art, history, philosophy and music, giving me new knowledge in easily readable bites. The complex linkages between all the subjects kept me interested and informed. I especially enjoyed the section on musical silence and how this form has been interpreted through the years. I have gained knowledge I didn’t know I needed.

The book uses lots of examples from classical music along with other more recent music. Although I am familiar with most of the examples used, I don’t think a lack of awareness in this respect detracts from the book.

Another personal high point is Sargasti’s knowledge of Mondrian’s art and the links to music – as any sociologist or historian is aware, nothing happens in a vacuum. This book pins music into its place in history in a very readable manner.

I’m planning to place this volume on my staple gift list. Ideal for lovers of music, art and history when I am struggling to think of appropriate presents. I don’t think recipients will be disappointed (it’s also very easy to wrap).

A Musical Offering is available now from Charco Press.

Review by Carolyn Batcheler

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