How relevant is classical music today? The genre seems in danger of becoming nothing more than a hobby for the social elite. Yet Kent Nagano has another world in mind – one where everyone has access to classical music. In Classical Music: Expect the Unexpected the world-famous classical conductor tells the deeply personal story of his own engagement with the masterpieces and great composers of classical music, his work with the world’s major orchestras, and his tireless commitment to bringing his music to everybody. Narrating his first childhood encounters with music’s power to overcome social and ethnic boundaries, he celebrates an art form that has always taken part in debates about human values and societal developments. The constantly declining relevance of classical music in these disrupted times, he argues, not only impoverishes society from a cultural perspective but robs it of inspiration, wit, emotional depth, and a sense of community. Getting to grips with classical music’s existential crisis, Nagano contends that it is too crucial to humanity’s survival to be allowed to silently disappear from our everyday reality. In this moving autobiography, Kent Nagano makes a compelling plea for classical music that is as exhilarating as it is thought-provoking.
“A book full of philosophical and political reflections that will fascinate all those who like to think about the role of music and musical institutions in our society … A must-read for all actors in the music world and a source of enrichment and reflection for the music lover.” Caroline Rodgers, Scena
“A tribute to the music teachers who trained Nagano, but [also] a precious reflection on the teaching of music, and even, more generally, on the teaching of the arts and humanities.” Didier Delsart, Huffington Post
“A resounding advocacy for classical music in a world that belittles art, and an invitation to break the elitist shackles in which it has been bound.” Martine Desjardins, L’actualité
“This enjoyable book is at once smart, modest and surprisingly intimate.” Christophe Huss, Le Devoir
“A very interesting read, not only for classical music lovers, but for all those who care about the arts.” Marc-André Masson, RDI
“A discreet man, Kent Nagano opens his story with great tenderness and takes you on a journey from California to France, from Germany to Montreal, and along the way provides the reader with important insights into the future of classical music.” Christophe Rodriguez, Journal of Montreal
About the Author
Kent Nagano is a renowned conductor working all over the globe. Born in the United States, he grew up in Morro Bay, a fishing village on the west coast of California. After gaining success as a conductor in the US, he was appointed music director at the Opéra National de Lyon in 1988, where he served until 1998. From 1991 to 2000, he stood at the helm of the Hallé Orchestra in Manchester, and in 2003 he was appointed first music director of the Los Angeles Opera. From 2000 to 2006 he was chief conductor and artistic director of the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin before becoming general music director at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich (until July 2013) and music director of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal. In 2015, he began his tenure as general music director and chief conductor of the Hamburg State Opera. Inge Kloepfer, born in Munich, is a prize-winning and bestselling author and journalist writing for Germany’s leading papers. She lives in Berlin.