The best books about Igor Stravinsky

2 authors have picked their favorite books about Igor Stravinsky and why they recommend each book.

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Themes and Conclusions

By Igor Stravinsky,

Book cover of Themes and Conclusions

Igor Stravinsky was one of the most influential and innovative music composers of the 20th century. He was also remarkably intelligent, humorous, and insightful. This book is a collection of interviews, letters, and notes made by and about Stravinsky. Some of these writings would interest only classical music enthusiasts, but much of the book comprises witty observations of human nature, art, and what it really means to praise or critique someone.

Who am I?

I am an associate professor of neuroscience at the Donders Institute in the Netherlands. My research lab focuses on discovering how the brain uses electrical signaling to compute information, and transfer information across different regions of the brain. I also have a few decades of experience teaching scientific coding, data analysis, statistics, and related topics, and have authored several online courses and textbooks. I have a suspiciously dry sense of humor and insufficient patience to read five books on the same topic.

I wrote...

Linear Algebra: Theory, Intuition, Code

By Mike X Cohen,

Book cover of Linear Algebra: Theory, Intuition, Code

What is my book about?

Linear algebra is the study of matrices (like a spreadsheet of numbers) and operations acting on them. Linear algebra used to be an advanced topic that was only of interest to advanced mathematics students. But modern computing has brought linear algebra to the forefront of human civilization: Nearly everything that computers do — from video graphics to financial modeling to machine learning to artificial intelligence — is implemented using linear algebra. I have tried to present linear algebra in a way that is rigorous yet lucid, explaining proofs and concepts while also using diagrams and code to show how linear algebra is applied and used in practice. This textbook can be used for self-study or as part of a university-level course.

Creating Minds

By Howard E. Gardner,

Book cover of Creating Minds: An Anatomy of Creativity Seen Through the Lives of Freud, Einstein, Picasso, Stravinsky, Eliot, Graham, and Ghandi

Howard Gardner admitted Creative Minds was the personal favorite of all his books, and I can see why. From Albert Einstein’s transformational science to Martha Graham’s innovative dance, the book traces the personal forces at work in radical creativity of ‘the greats’ from science to arts and politics. It taught me to look at the entirety of a person’s biography to get to grips with their creativity and challenges the reader to think about a common creative scheme, but perhaps underestimates the role of conversation and community.

Who am I?

I have worked in scientific research and teaching for over 30 years, and maintained a love of art and music as well, but am saddened when I hear statements, especially from high-school pupils, that ‘there is no room for creativity or imagination in science.’ Like all working scientists, I know that imagination is the most important faculty for a scientist. The Poetry and Music of Science is my project to tease out the creative threads in the scientific process, and also to find the buried pathways that link science with the arts and humanities. The journey of discovery has been full of surprises and delights for me.

I wrote...

The Poetry and Music of Science: Comparing Creativity in Science and Art

By Tom McLeish,

Book cover of The Poetry and Music of Science: Comparing Creativity in Science and Art

What is my book about?

What human qualities make scientific discoveries, and which great art? Many would point to 'imagination' and 'creativity' in the second case but not the first. This book challenges the assumption that doing science is in any sense less creative than art, music, or fictional writing and poetry, and treads a historical and contemporary path to their shared creative process. Personal stories of scientists and artists reveal their common desires for a creative goal, experiences of failure, periods of incubation, moments of sudden insight, and the experience of the beautiful or sublime. Themes weaving through both science and art emerge.

A new paperback edition of The Poetry and Music of Science is being published on Feb 13th, completely revised and with a new chapter on Poetry and Theoretical Science.

Beloved Dog

By Maira Kalman,

Book cover of Beloved Dog

I recommend this book in part for its sheer weirdness and in part because dogs have evolved to be our true blue friends, and Beloved Dog celebrates that fact as much as any book I’ve ever read. Kalman’s writing is often a stream of consciousness, so the reader needs to leave any expectation of linear story-telling aside and just enjoy the ride. Kids are great at doing that! They can turn each page and lose themselves in her illustrations. Once again, I adore a book that isn’t exclusively for children or adults, but both.

Who am I?

I’m the eldest of seven children and didn’t grow up with pets because frankly, it was chaotic enough with that many people in the house. And yet I always had a penchant for looking at an animal and imagining what it was thinking to itself. I assumed that every creature had an inner life that was as colorful and varied as my own. Animal fables were as plausible to me as stories about humans. Now I love writing books with talking animals, because once your furry or feathery protagonist opens their mouth and starts talking, anything goes!

I wrote...

Otto P. Nudd

By Emily Butler,

Book cover of Otto P. Nudd

What is my book about?

Otto is the smartest bird around. "You’ve seen the best, now forget the rest,” is his motto. He spends his days swapping treasures with a girl named Pippa and inventing marvelous things with a scientist named Bartleby. But Otto’s most important job is keeping the local birds in line. After all, he’s the top bird.

Then Bartleby has a dreadful accident. Desperate to rescue the only father he has ever known, Otto raises the alarm! He tries to rally the neighborhood, but no one cares. The birds are sick and tired of following his orders. And Marla (a notorious squirrel) thwarts him at every turn. What’s the top bird supposed to do? Otto learns that to have a friend, you have to be a friend.

Stravinsky's Lunch

By Drusilla Modjeska,

Book cover of Stravinsky's Lunch

Drusilla Modjeska’s Stravinsky’s Lunch is an absolutely original study of art and life. Its starting and finishing points are the contrasting lives of two major Australian artists, Stella Bowen and Grace Cossington, born twelve months apart in the 1890s. Don’t be put off if you’ve never heard of them (though their work is wonderful). This brilliant book involves its author – and even the reader – in an untricksy but radical look at the self who makes.

Who am I?

Fiona Sampson is a leading British poet and writer, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, awarded an MBE for services to literature. Published in thirty-seven languages, she’s the recipient of numerous national and international awards. Her twenty-eight books include the critically acclaimed In Search of Mary Shelley, and Two-Way Mirror: The life of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and she’s Emeritus Professor of Poetry, University of Roehampton.

I wrote...

Two-Way Mirror: The Life of Elizabeth Barrett Browning

By Fiona Sampson,

Book cover of Two-Way Mirror: The Life of Elizabeth Barrett Browning

What is my book about?

Born into an age when women could neither own property once married nor vote, Barrett Browning seized control of her private income, overcame long-term illness, eloped to revolutionary Italy with Browning, and achieved lasting literary fame. A feminist icon, political activist, and international literary superstar, she inspired writers as diverse as Emily Dickinson, George Eliot, Rudyard Kipling, Oscar Wilde, and Virginia Woolf. The first biography of Barrett Browning in more than three decades, with unique access to the poet's abundant correspondence, Two-Way Mirror holds up a mirror to the woman, her art, and the art of biography itself.

Daily Rituals

By Mason Currey (editor),

Book cover of Daily Rituals: How Artists Work

This book summarizes the habits of 161 famous geniuses—authors, musicians, philosophers, and more. When we think of someone who’s a genius, we tend to imagine someone living a very eccentric life. But according to this book, many geniuses actually spend their days in a very regular, disciplined manner: they wake up early, get their work done in the morning, take a nap, and go for a walk. (Of course, some of them do live an eccentric life, like Marcel Proust.) As it turns out, people become geniuses not by waiting for inspiration to randomly strike, but by developing good working habits and devoting time to their work every day.

Who am I?

When I became a minimalist, I found that having less made my household chores so much easier. Before then, I thought I was a loser who lets dirty dishes and laundry pile up. But when my environment changed, what I had believed was my personality also shifted. Once my apartment was tidy, it became a habit to do the dishes right away and vacuum the floor before going out, and my life became consistently enjoyable. But other habits were harder nuts to crack, like quitting drinking or exercising regularly. In Hello, Habits I write about my journey of acquiring these habits through a process of trial and error.

I wrote...

Hello, Habits: A Minimalist's Guide to a Better Life

By Fumio Sasaki,

Book cover of Hello, Habits: A Minimalist's Guide to a Better Life

What is my book about?

Fumio Sasaki changed his life when he became a minimalist. But before minimalism could really stick, he had to make it a habit. All of us live our lives based on the habits we’ve formed, from when we get up in the morning to what we eat and drink to how likely we are to actually make it to the gym. In Hello, Habits, Sasaki explains how we can acquire the new habits that we want―and get rid of the ones that don’t do us any good.

Drawing on leading theories and tips about the science of habit formation from cognitive psychology, neuroscience, and sociology, along with examples from popular culture and tried-and-tested techniques from his own life, he unravels common misperceptions about "willpower" and "talent," and offers a step-by-step guide to success.

The Dead Ladies Project

By Jessa Crispin,

Book cover of The Dead Ladies Project: Exiles, Expats, and Ex-Countries

The Dead Ladies Project follows Crispin’s inner and outer journey across Europe following her suicide attempt. As a way of trying to make sense of her own fragile condition, Crispin researches the lives of other artists who also fled abroad in order to find themselves. 

I first read The Dead Ladies Project while researching my own hybrid memoir. It was a revelation and an inspiration, this elegant weaving of Crispin’s personal story with the stories of those she imagines traveled a similar path as herself, both geographically and emotionally. 

At this time of overly curated, highly sanitized social media depictions of our lives, Crispin’s unflinching humanity is not just brave, but like water poured on arid soil.

Who am I?

I’m a cultural anthropologist with a passion for exploring how we humans make meaning of the wonderful, terrible, startling, often-absurd existence in which we find ourselves. My research has taken me from NYC’s underground occult scene to the conflict-resolution strategies of Central Peru; from circus performers in Portland, Maine, grappling with their physical potential, to a comedy club in Berlin where I set out to discover the secret sauce for evoking “collective joy” amongst strangers. I am drawn to artistic works that mix genres and defy categorization… and thus have a penchant for alienating editors, librarians, and bookstore owners who struggle to identify on which shelf my books belong. 

I wrote...

The Friendliest Place in the Universe: Love, Laughter, and Stand-Up Comedy in Berlin

By Hillary S. Webb,

Book cover of The Friendliest Place in the Universe: Love, Laughter, and Stand-Up Comedy in Berlin

What is my book about?

In this “anthropological memoir,” Hillary S. Webb turns an anthropologist's eye to the existential search for meaning through the microcosm of a multicultural comedy club in the age of Trump. Told with her signature mix of humor and emotional candor, Webb’s journey offers lessons for all of us grappling with the divisiveness of contemporary life. Come for the free pizza and schnapps—stay for the characters, their stories, and the community.

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