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Soloist CoverGenerally not with it to begin with, I’m further without whatever it is as I bear down on composing deadlines, as I am now. So I don’t know why there’s been a sudden surge in a post from five years ago, but it’s all of a sudden getting a lot of hits. The One Book, One Philadelphia selection for 2009 was The Soloist by Steve Lopez, which was also made into a movie with Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr.

The Free Library asked me—I was still working there as curator of the Fleisher Collection—if I’d like to write something short about each of the musical works mentioned in the book, for materials they were putting together for this city-wide educational project. The book is about Nathaniel Ayers, a violin-playing homeless man in Los Angeles who turns out to be a former Juilliard double bass student, and Lopez mentions a lot of musical titles in the book. I counted 46.

I got my feet wet by first writing about Stevie Wonder and Henry Mancini (not all the references are classical), and then I worked my way through the book. I didn’t realize it then, but it turned out to be great practice for blogging—well, for writing in general. The descriptions had to be very brief, and there’s no better tool in any kind of writing than the hatchet.

The post, with Youtube examples, is here.


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