Lyric Opera's 2008-2009 Season
The Minnesota Opera's 2008-2009 Season

Musicophilia Review

* Notes *
As an adolescent my two boyhood heroes were most certainly
Václav Havel and Oliver Sacks. It was around that time that I tried, in vain, to find a copy of Zahradní slavnost at my public library. It is just as well, I did not understand the play when I read it as an undergraduate. The library did, however, have Oliver Sacks' Awakenings, which I probably did not understand that well either, but made quite an impression on my young mind.

Sacks' latest book, entitled Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain, is in the same engaging style as The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat (which, incidentally, was made into an opera) and An Anthropologist on Mars. Like the previous books, Musicophilia goes through several case studies of neurological conditions that involve music, including musical hallucinations, synesthesia and music, and musician's dystonia. However, the scope of this new book is broader, not only discussing pathologies, their disadvantages and surprising advantages, but also covers music and the human brain generally.

While organized into four major parts, at times I felt Sacks jumped around a bit. For example, Chapter 16 deals with aphasia and music therapy, but Chapter 17 abruptly goes into a short case study on dyskinesia. Nonetheless, on the whole, the book is both entertaining and instructive. I am particularly fond of the chapter on musical savants.

* Tattling *
I was disappointed the index did not include "opera," so for your amusement and consideration, I made my own entry:

     Freud and Mozart operas, 292

     Challenger, Melanie 281-282

     musical imagery involving, 241-242

     Das Rheingold, 282-283
     Dido and Aeneas, 284, 301
     Jenufa, 34-35
     La Traviata, 11, 79
     Orpheus in the Underworld, 241
     Tannhäuser, 75
     Turandot, 326
     William Tell, 103

     savantism involving, 151-152, 239

     Jenkins, Florence Foster, 100
     Tucker, Richard, 320
     Lenhoff, Gloria, 325-327

Also, I noted that the index had an entry for "Japanese speakers, see tonal languages," but the pages referred to had information on Chinese and Vietnamese speakers and absolute pitch.